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Ideas To Support Kids And Parents Through Virtual Learning

Joey started his kindergarten year on a computer. Instead of greeting his new teacher at her classroom door, sitting on the carpet and meeting his new classmates, exploring all the new things in his classroom, and making new friends on the playground during recess, we are starting the year at home with virtual learning. While this is not the ideal way for us to begin our school year, we know this is the safest way for us to learn that will protect families and school staff. 

Many friends and family have said learning from home will be a breeze since I was a teacher. I am sure my teacher mommies can agree that teaching our own kids is different from teaching your kids. My mommy’s voice is definitely not as scary as my teacher’s voice. 

One of the hardest things as a teacher is getting all students to pay attention and engage in the learning you are putting out. It comes from training and experiences, testing out different strategies. Doing it virtually is definitely a whole new way of teaching that many teachers are doing their best to adapt and figure out.

virtual learning sitting
His own learning space right next to my desk.

As we do virtual learning at home, I rely on Joey’s teacher to support him in learning the grade-level skills and providing me the guidance to do so at home. The hardest is getting him to focus on the computer and listening to his teacher and classmates. 

Taking some of the ideas I had used when I was teaching and with some suggestions from my teacher friends, here are some ideas to help your child stay focus on the computer. An extra benefit, some of these ideas are great for parents working from home and in front of the computer for a long time. 

virtual learning seating options
Switching to kneeling helps him stay focus on his teacher during virtual learning.

Different Sitting Options

Sitting still in front of the computer is the hardest thing for a child, even for some teenagers and adults. Having different sitting options accessible may help them keep their focus on the screen while giving their bodies a little adjustment. 

It is best to have your child set up at a table close to their height, so they have some independence when adjusting their seating. It is also more comfortable in a chair their size, so they are not dangling their legs. 

  • Wobble Stoolthey were always the favorite seats for my students. The stool allows for movements while seating upright and staying in place. I have always preferred these over the exercise balls that usually ends up being more of a distraction.
  • Kneeling – Joey loves to switch up between sitting and kneeling. He likes the option of pulling his chair back and kneeling whenever he needs to switch it up without being too distracted.
  • Balance Cushion they are great for an added cushion to the seat. It gives them a little movement to wiggle around while staying seated. I used these in my classroom for many years. 
virtual learning standing
We all get tired of sitting sometimes.

Using Different Spaces

Sitting at the same spot and staring at the same wall for a while can be hard to stay focus for a kid. Utilizing different spaces and changing up the scenery slightly can help with refocusing for kids and adults. Here are some tools that allowed us to make use of different workspace around our house. 

  • Lap Deskthere are multiple ways we use this. It is great for the kids to sit on the floor but having a flat surface to do his work. We used it on the carpet and even on the grass when we want to be outside. We also use it as a computer stand when Joey wants to stand up and stretch his legs during his virtual learning. 
  • Computer Stand I use this on my desk when I get tired of sitting. It’s an option for older kids also to switch up their workspace. It also has an extension for my mouse when I work on my computer.
  • Surf Portable Lap Deskthis is a portable table that you can use it anywhere. If you have multiple kids and adults sharing workspaces around the house, this is compact and stackable to easily store at home.
virtual learning sitting options
Who says learning has to be on a desk.

Reward System

A reward system is used to keep kids motivated in meeting a set goal each day or for each task. It is a great way to remind us to celebrate the success and accomplishments big and small. 

Here are a few tips on how to set up a reward system at home. 

  • Set Goals – The key here is to set achievable goals. Think about what your child will need to do to help them with their virtual learning each day. Make the goal very specific. As a kindergartener, one of Joey’s goals is, “I will finish all my work neatly.” We set this goal because he was rushing to finish his school work. Start with one goal and add on or change it as needed. 
  • Make It Visual – Write out the goals and post them up where it is visible from where they work. Use something tangible like tickets or stickers to keep track of goals met for each day. We use a large index card to help us keep track of our goals for the week. Joey will get a sticker for each goal he met for the day.
  • Keep It Simple – Set up a system that is easy for your child to follow and also for you to manage. I had thrown many systems out the window as a teacher when it was too much to handle, or students had lost interest because it was a bit complicated to follow. Our goal is to collect 10 stickers in exchange for a reward. If Joey met his goals each day, he should achieve this in 5 days. There may be a day or 2 that he will struggle with meeting his goals, and that’s ok.
  • Have Fun with the Rewards –  Deciding on a reward together is the fun part. Because I am planning for the possibility of a prize each week, I need to think about rewards that are manageable for me. A new Lego set each week will not work for my wallet. I will give Joey 2 options to choose from that I know it’s doable, and I can follow through. We had options between a trip to the ice-cream shop or bubble tea cafe (he loves bubble tea); the choice between 2 new board games; $5 to spend on our trip to Target or save it for his next Lego set (he’s been working on saving for a big set he’s been eyeing). 

Keep in mind, each child learns differently. So some of these ideas may or may not work for your child. But whichever one you choose to try, give it some time. Kids need time and lots of reminders to adapt to something new. So give it multiple chances and tries before ruling it out and moving on to something else. 

Virtual learning is not something we had planned for this year. Remember what works for Joey may not work for your child. Do what is best for your child and for your family’s situation. Keep open communication with your child’s teacher because you are in this together. You got this!

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