Help Kids Focus & Thrive in Online Classrooms
Your favorite birds are chirping, your favorite color of blue is in the sky, your brother is stomping all over the house looking for his keys, your toys are calling you from their corner, your parents are on conference calls in the adjoining rooms, your snacks begin to beckon temptingly from the cabinets, your favorite tv show just one click away....oh yeah, and your teacher on the screen in front of you. What did he just say again? Wait, there was homework?
Does this situation sound familiar by any chance? It should to many American families with school-aged children. According to the US census bureau, 93% of children in the US are participating in some form of online learning.
This means that 93% of families are struggling to find a balance in the online, remote classroom/home atmosphere, usually while Mom and Dad try to get their own remote work done as well. Needless to say, things for families across America have been chaotic to say the very least.
There's no denying it, this year has been one for the books. Of all the changes we have experienced this year, one of the biggest has been the way in which we learn and work.
Our children have been thrown into a world of online learning, and honestly, so have we. Parents, teachers, kids, this is a tricky time for everyone involved.
So, the question is, how to make it a bit better? How do we help children focus and thrive even amongst the myriad of distractions that is home-learning?
We have compiled 6 expert tips to help you, help them. According to Dr. Linda Carling of Johns Hopkins School of Education, kids need movement, a dedicated workspace, a strategic work schedule, checklists, breaks and plentiful immediate positive feedback/encouragement.
Movement: Kids need to move. It's pretty simple. If you need them to focus for an extended period of time, make sure to integrate movement before and after the focus period. Carling even suggests allowing the option of standing to work.
Dedicated Workspace: Kids are like little adults (who knew, right?). They need a calm and specific space to work too. Having a dedicated workspace will help them get into the learning mindset and will help them better focus.
Strategic Working Schedule: We all have times in the day when we can focus more or less on different tasks, and we all have different tasks that fall in our strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to help your child to tackle the difficult work during their high-energy window and save the easy work for when their energy is beginning to wane.
Checklist: Neurologically, your child's executive functioning is very immature, it needs help to keep tasks, assignments and instructions organized. Simple checklists are the way to go. Make it even more fun by providing an incentive for completing a list item.
Breaks: Kids need breaks. Parents need breaks. Teachers need breaks. Basically, when the energy is low, don't keep pushing the kids or yourself. Take a break, do some jumping jacks, sing a song, go to the bathroom or get a snack. Really, it will help.
Positive Feedback: We all know that incentives are incredibly motivating. Creative incentives and give plentiful and immediate positive feedback, both of which cement the good behavior, promote the positive learning cycle and increase momentum.
Note: It is important to remember that each child is vastly different, and while one incentive may be incredibly motivating for one child, it may not hold the same appeal for another. Incentives need to be as tailored as your work/break strategy.
Your Takeaway: Let them move, try to be intentional about what they learn and when, and make things as fun as possible with high-energy positive feedback and incentives.
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