This year, school has looked much different for students, teachers, and parents alike! Everyone has had to quickly adapt to online, distance learning and much more time at home.
While online learning has been a lifesaver during these times, it has also brought with it many challenges. And, although schools are slowly beginning to reopen with different schedules, it looks like online learning in North Carolina may continue for a bit longer. However, like everything in life, there are always ways to minimize these challenges and make the most of the situation.
So, whether your child is completely online or partially online, here are 7 tips to help your child focus during online learning.
Create a Proper Learning Space
One of the most important things your child needs to stay focused is a proper learning space. How can any child focus if their environment is full of distractions?
Create a learning space that is quiet, clutter-free, and comfortable for your child. We say clutter-free because practically anything, even the salt shaker at the kitchen table, can quickly become a distraction. Set your child up at a desk or a table; don’t let them work on couches or beds, as this can easily result in nap time! Make sure all immediate distractions are also out of sight. For smaller children, this means removing all of their favorite toys or gadgets, and for older children, this means removing phones, tablets, and other devices.
For parents who have some essential oils, it’s also a good idea to diffuse an oil that promotes concentration into the room, like lemon or peppermint oil.
Maintain a Schedule
Creating a schedule and sticking to it is another key thing to do to promote focus. It establishes structure and discipline, and significantly boosts productivity. With children especially, a schedule is needed to hold them accountable and ensure the tasks for the day get accomplished. Without one, it’s easy to let time pass by, resulting in a missed assignment or activity! Overall, having a schedule leads to better time management, and research shows that students who have higher GPAs are typically better at time management.
To create the best schedule for your child, it’s important to consider a few things. Determine when your child seems to work best. For many children, this is in the morning, while for older children, this may be during early afternoon. If virtual live sessions and activities allow it, try to base the schedule around the times that your child is naturally more engaged and focused.
For some students, it may be best to stick to the same schedule they had when they were physically attending school. This means the same wake-up and breakfast time, and starting schoolwork at the same time they would ordinarily start class.
Overall, just figure out what works best for your child and stick to that schedule! However, on those off days where your child is a little more frustrated or unengaged than usual, it’s okay to allow some flexibility. Don’t push the schedule so much so that it causes more frustration. If things go awry, just get back to the schedule as soon as possible.
Create Daily Checklists
Along with a consistent schedule, it’s also wise to create a daily checklist. For many students, having a visual of all the tasks they need to accomplish for the day is the perfect tool to keep them focused, organized, and motivated. It helps them to see the complete scope of their school day and the steps they need to take.
The ability to check off each task when completed is also a great way to keep students feeling accomplished. Crossing off tasks from the list acts like a reward, bringing them one step closer to finishing their day and moving on to more fun things! So, at the start of each day, have your child create a checklist of tasks for the day, or help them to do so.
Encourage Brain Breaks
Numerous studies have shown the importance of breaks in students and adults alike! Taking breaks has been shown to help students learn more efficiently, recover from stress, to boost performance, to restore energy and motivation, to increase productivity and creativity, and more. Movement breaks - where one takes a short break to move about, whether it be walking around or stretching - have also been shown to be crucial for physical and emotional health.
Children especially need to take breaks throughout the day to rest their brains and move about. It’s difficult for practically all students to sit through an entire class each day and maintain undivided focus! So, allow your child to take breaks throughout the day, like one break every hour. According to one research scientist at Johns Hopkins University, younger children may need to take more frequent breaks, like one every 5 to 25 minutes.
During some of these breaks, and especially at lunch time, make sure your child gets some physical activity in, whether it be playing outside or exercising indoors. As mentioned before, this physical activity is key to maintaining focus and attention, while also providing a boost in emotional and physical health.
Provide Positive Feedback
For younger kids especially, online distance learning has come with a lot less positive reinforcement and reassurance from teachers, counselors, and even other students. Most students miss the praise they used to receive after completing an assignment or the reward system they experienced in class. So, it’s important to be that source of positive feedback for your child!
Every now and then, praise your child for completing an assignment or put a sticker on an assignment. Even for older students, a simple “Great job on your assignments today” can go a long way.
Gamify Their Online Schooling
Want to take providing positive feedback a step further? Try gamifying your child’s online schooling! This is especially useful for younger children.
Several studies have shown the benefits of gamification to increase learning engagement, make learning more fun and interactive, boost knowledge absorption and retention, and enhance the overall learning experience for all age groups. This is because the simple act of working towards achieving a goal to ‘level up’ or obtain a reward releases a flood of endorphins. This flood of endorphins brings with it increased motivation, excitement, feelings of accomplishment, and much more.
Gamifying your child’s online school experience is much simpler than it seems. Just offer points, levels, and challenges, along with a visual to track their progress. For example, offer a certain amount of points for every assignment completed on time and points lost for assignments that are poorly completed. Create prizes that can be purchased with the points, with the more significant prizes requiring more points. Your prizes can be anything, like more play time before bed or an outing with friends, to a brand new toy. For older children, points can be earned for good grades, with prizes being things like small gift cards.
Use School and Local Resources
The Alamance-Burlington School System and most other school systems offer numerous resources to assist children during this time. Some examples are online resources, like Study Island and BrainPOP, and even helpful guides to remote learning. The specific resources vary depending on the school which your child attends, so be sure to see what resources your child has available to them. Here’s a link to ABSS’ remote learning resources for COVID-19.
Different local facilities, like community centers and churches, are also offering things like free tutoring or homework assistance to students. So, be on the lookout for local resources, too!
Is Remote Learning Causing Your Child to Fall Behind in Math?
Like we mentioned in the beginning of this blog, remote learning has brought with it many challenges. Due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, many students are falling behind in math. That’s why we’re here to help. Our personalized math tutoring will help your child not only get back on track as soon as possible, but also excel in math.
Call us today at (336) 792-7000 to schedule a free trial session, or for any questions or concerns!