Make Virtual Learning Fun and Effective
August 7, 2020
For many of us, being sequestered in our homes has abruptly introduced us and our children to the world of online meetings and conversations. This isn’t a bad thing. But for many of us, it’s a new thing that takes a little getting used to. Now that it’s here, it’s also likely to be something we’ll see more and more of in the future.
Our experts in the Kiddie Academy® Education Department offered up the following guidance on how to make virtual communication a comfortable and worthwhile experience for kids of all ages.
What Should Parents Expect During Group Online Learning?
- Let go of expectations. Be gentle about the expectations for yourself and your child.
- Parents should do what makes the most sense for their child and their needs. Virtual learning is new, and we are learning together.
- It’s important to create a partnership with your child’s teacher(s) and communicate needs and any feedback you may have regarding online learning. Discuss the positives and negatives about the process. It’s vital for educators to receive feedback from your observations to better meet the needs of their students. Again, we’re all learning together.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most parents aren’t educators, but they’ve suddenly been thrust into the role of teacher. Ask for help, suggestions and guidance.
- Remember that online learning isn’t like watching a cartoon on TV. It’s a challenging way to learn. Learning should be filled with interactions, hands-on experiences and socialization.
- Think about the time you had your first virtual call. Were you comfortable? Did you look at yourself more or others on the screen? Were you distracted by creative backgrounds? Were you comfortable with the controls and how everything worked?
- At Kiddie Academy, we conduct adult trainings virtually at a corporate level and we create a list of expectations, guidance on how to use the virtual platform and conduct practice calls. Even adults need support to make sure their video camera isn’t cutting off their head, or they’re not eating chips while unmuted or even floating in space in a virtual background. We’re all navigating this new normal together. Let go of the expectations and take it one virtual day at a time.
Online Learning Tips For Young Kids
- Create daily routine and stick to it.
- Create a visual schedule, display it at your child’s eye level in a place where your child will refer to it during each transition.
- Maintain good sleep habits so your child is well rested.
- Make sure your child eats a healthy meal before virtual class begins.
- Make time for physical activity before and after virtual class.
- Get your child dressed and ready. Brush your child’s hair, brush their teeth and get them ready as you would normally for day to get your child’s mindset prepared for learning.
- Choose a quiet area away from distractions. Sitting at a desk or table is ideal. Have a defined and dedicated space for virtual learning.
- Provide comfortable seating or even let your child stand if they choose to.
- Using headphones with a microphone help block out distractions.
- Sit with your child and go through a tutorial of the device. Share with your child the important features they’ll use during virtual learning. Attach visuals to the computer to show where the camera is. You can color code different features of the keyboard.
- Role play. Practice with the features of the program your child will be using. Provide guidance during the virtual learning in the beginning. Remember, young children are savvy with technology. It won’t take long for them to learn.
- Create visuals for your child’s needs that they can show to the camera (raised hand, feelings pictures, question mark, BRB [Be right back], etc.).
- Skip the virtual background. In this situation, it can be too distracting. Have a clean, simple background with the source of light in front of your child’s face as opposed to behind them.
- Pets can be a distraction, so try to keep them out of your learning area during designated learning times.
- Breaks are crucial. Avoid what’s jokingly referred to as Zoom Coma. Allow some time away from the screen.
- Your child will move and wiggle. THAT’S OK! Staying completely focused is a developmental stretch for most children under the age of 5. But it gradually increases as they get older. That’s why physical activity prior to sitting down at the computer can be helpful. You can also provide a fidget-type item that your child can hold on to and manipulate. However, if you choose this option, demonstrate the proper way to play with the toy first.
- It’s OK if your preschooler walks away, closes the laptop or toggles between Sesame Street and their preschool class. That’s your child telling you they’re done.
- Basically, what preschool online learning looks like is a meet-and-greet session. It’s a time to sing, have fun, read stories and be with one another for a short period of time.
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