Due to the ongoing pandemic, most schools modified their back-to-school plan and shifted to online education.
However, transitioning from a face-to-face classroom environment to an online learning format like Google Classroom is challenging for everyone involved. Teachers must put extra effort into teaching their students effectively while students, in turn, need to make extra effort to stay focused.
As your kids take their education online, inevitable challenges and distractions at home can make them lose interest. But, according to research on Parent Involvement in Education, some parental participation can help improve a child’s academic performance.
So what can you do to keep young students engaged in their online education? We’ve gathered valuable knowledge from experts and parents on how to get the little ones interested in their classes and how parents can stay sane during these trying times.
Before you can help your children, you must first understand the challenges students face in online learning. Of course, each student is unique, but these are the common issues that most of them experience during this new learning setup.
Here are the challenges that affect their focus on their schoolwork:
Online education is a safer alternative than sending your young ones back to school, where social distancing can be quite impossible. However, this latest wave of education also comes with a few drawbacks.
The good news is that there are strategies that you can implement to help your kids learn and study effectively at home.
As a parent, your role in student engagement during online classes differs from teachers.
Your job consists mainly of adult supervision and education management. Although sometimes, you might also need to teach your kids and help them study their modules to keep up with the lectures.
Here are eight strategies and tips that you can follow to keep your kids interested in online learning:
According to Charis Lauren Wahman, Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, the lack of predictability is often the cause of emotions that disrupt learning. That is why setting up a routine, and increasing predictability can significantly help.
Brittany Adams, a mother of a 6-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son in Tampa, Florida, said, “I try to get my son to follow the same schedule that he had before.” Ensure that your little one gets enough sleep, wakes up in time for breakfast, and gets dressed in their uniform --- a subconscious cue that it’s time to learn.
If the old schedule doesn’t work anymore, try to find something new that can signal your child that it’s time to focus. “My 6-year-old has difficulty waking up early, so we do her coursework after lunch,” added Mrs. Adams. It’s essential to stick to the routine, so it becomes a habit that will help guide the family during school days.
Make sure that your child has everything they need within arm’s reach to get the work done. This ensures that your kids won’t have to leave their workspace and break their focus to look for you and ask for help.
It’s also essential to provide the student with a stable WiFi connection. Finally, for older kids in high school or students studying for a Degree, ensure that they have PDF readers or note-taking apps to make online classes easier.
Most parents already set up a room in their house as a designated workspace for their kids to complete their schoolwork.
“My daughters are in 9th and 12th grade. We all have separate, quiet workstations. It helps lessen the distractions and stress for all of us, especially since I’m always talking on a Zoom meeting,” said Christian Robertson from Saskatchewan, Canada. But don’t worry if you don’t have an extra room to turn into an alternative classroom.
Providing a space conducive to learning is crucial, especially for easily distracted kids. It doesn’t even have to be expensive or take up a lot of space. You only need a table or desk where they can work and a comfortable chair.
Ensure that the area is free from noise and visual distractions or clutter-like toys.
If a teacher assigns multiple tasks each day, the young ones may feel overwhelmed or quickly lose focus. They may have a hard time finishing a whole lesson in one sitting.
So, if they have a 30-page reading assignment, you can tell them to read five pages, and then they can take a break before finishing five more.
Children in kindergarten and grade school have a short attention span, so you need to shift their tasks every 15 to 20 minutes to keep them interested and engaged.
Meanwhile, older students can stay focused for extended periods. For high school students and older, consider scheduling breaks between different subjects. In addition, try to maintain a journal or planner to keep track of your children’s activities and homework.
Parents should also allow flexibility in the schedule. For instance, when you notice your children getting anxious, frustrated, or very distracted, it’s time to give them a break.
Encourage movement to release their stress. “Since they are young, they have a lot of energy in their bodies. Letting them sit still for more than a few hours is like a ticking time bomb. So, I let them walk around the house or run down the stairs a few times before going back and finishing their work,” added the mother of two.
Instead of asking your children how they performed in class as soon as they finish the video conference, have them teach you what they learned instead.
While you should track their performance, focusing on their learning experience shows your kid that the actual learning is more important.
“I asked about Roman history once, and my daughter ranted about how Julius Caesar was a tyrant. The next day, she gave me a PowerPoint presentation about how he didn’t deserve to die,” explained Mr. Robertson.
So, share your enthusiasm with knowledge and take every opportunity to learn new information from them. Not only will this help them feel less stressed about chasing grades, but they will also be more interested in the next lesson they want to share with you.
No matter how small your kid’s achievements are, you should recognize and celebrate them.
Positive feedback is especially significant for students in elementary age as it keeps them motivated and interested to learn. Recognizing and celebrating their achievements also challenges them to do better.
And if your child finished a complicated project or aced a difficult test, give them an incentive or special treat. Trust us; it’ll work!
Each student has styles and preferences that are best suited to their way of learning.
Tina Sokac, a mother of a 7-year-old in Zagreb, Croatia, said, “My son was having a hard time with online classes. So, I emailed his teacher and suggested he show visual aids during their video conferences so my son can follow the topic.”
Some kids may grasp the lesson or knowledge better when the teacher shows them how things work. Meanwhile, auditory learners can understand the course by listening to the instructor teaching the subject.
When it comes to kids with limited learning skills, it’s best to explore and utilize different learning styles. Using their preferred learning techniques improves their interest in the online class.
Online learning is also stressful for parents. Between juggling work from home and caring for the family, you also have to track your kids’ online education. But to support your children with their education, you need to take care of yourself and stay sane.
Here are some self-care tips to keep your sanity as your child learns from home:
Navigating this frightening and uncertain time can be mentally and emotionally draining for students, teachers, and parents alike. But at the end of the day, what matters is that your child stays safe and healthy while learning. Parents should work together with their kids, teachers, and the community to keep students engaged and motivated with their education.
With the stellar resources available and accessible on the internet and within the community, embarking on this journey is possible.