Many students are beginning the year with some form of virtual learning. During virtual learning, teachers, parents, and students act as a team to ensure the student’s success. Parents take on the role of a learning coach, which can feel overwhelming at first.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to maximize the effectiveness of virtual learning. According to Karina Zaiets and Janet Loehrke, education columnists for USA Today, there are a few keys to success when preparing for a virtual school year.
First, remove distractions. While students use the internet for virtual learning, they don’t always stick to academics when online. According to Zaiets and Loehrke, students check their devices for non-academic reasons approximately 11.43 times a day. Setting limits on the internet can help reduce distractions. Establishing a clean, quiet space where a student can sit upright will improve focus as well.
Of course, non-stop focus is a recipe for burnout. Plan breaks around chunks of time (every 30 minutes) or a set of tasks (after finishing two assignments). The activity a student does on a brain break is also a factor. Exercise is the best choice. Connecting with friends is another excellent choice. Virtual learning can feel isolating at times, and students may miss talking with their friends outside of class.
Planning breaks is part of managing a student’s time. Parents can help a student by creating a schedule to follow every day. Learners are generally more productive in the morning, so schedule the most challenging work early. Some students may need more structure, with a timer to help stay on task.
Next, plan to give positive feedback that would usually come from teachers and counselors at school. Checkmarks, stickers, and words of encouragement help keep a student motivated to learn. Staying in close contact with the student’s teachers is also an effective strategy. When a child struggles with an assignment, the teacher can help. However, the teacher may not know there is an issue unless someone reaches out.
Of course, even with these supports in place, virtual learning is not easy for every child. Children with special learning needs may struggle with the virtual format. In a recent article for USA Today, Zaiets and Loehrke advise parents to “work with your child’s teachers to identify and remove any learning barriers.”
These structures can help students find success in virtual learning. However, plans may need adjustment, and obstacles may pop up. The last tip is to stay flexible.