The pandemic has been brutal on everyone, but it’s been the hardest on the children. Kids need a stimulating and structured environment to thrive in an educational setting, and they have not been given that setting in over a year now. While they’re great at adapting, staying focused on virtual learning will always be difficult.
Now that an entire year of virtual learning has passed, teachers and parents have come up with a few tips and tricks to keep kids focused on school during the day. Some of these ideas could work so well that you’ll continue using them once in-school learning is back in action!
Introducing brain breaks throughout the day can help your child get in the right headspace to learn and focus on school. You can give your child brain breaks throughout the day, but you want to make sure to get them in after lunch, physical activity, or a break like recess. After major stimulation, like after a non-structured break like recess, your child needs to refocus.
That’s the purpose of a brain break. It shouldn’t act like another lunch break. It should be structured physical movement like light stretching, shaking it out, or Simon Says. It can also be calming or breathing exercises. Make taking brain breaks a habit. When they have a break for lunch or anything else while they’re at home, end it five to ten minutes early so they can take their brain break and get back in the zone before class starts.
Preparing a daily checklist or to-do list that resets every day can help your child reach their academic goals. It will help keep them on track by showing them exactly what needs to get done that day. Lists also help release a lot of stress that comes with having a non-structured day.
Lists also allow them to feel like they have control over their day when they can choose the order in which some of the tasks get done. Your child can’t control the school day and virtual learning, but they can have some input about what happens before and after school.
Use A Timer
As you’re going through that checklist or your daily activities, use a kitchen timer to track the activity. Tell your child exactly how long they need to focus on that activity and set the timer. Using a timer does two things.
First, it will prevent your kid from worrying about whether the time is up or if they can stop because they will have a physical representation of the time independent from their parent. Second, it will keep the two of you accountable for how much time you’re spending on each task.
After a while, you’ll have a better understanding of how quickly your child loses focus. You’ll also be able to tell what tasks grab their attention and what they lose focus on quickly. That will be a great help when you’re finding activities that will help keep them on task.
If you’re lucky enough to have any control in your kid’s school day, try to incorporate interactive activities. If you can’t do it during the day, try adding activities to their homework time. Make math practice physical by showing them how to add and subtract using objects instead of numbers. Do a science experiment with them to keep them engaged or read out loud to them. Twenty minutes of engagement can lead to a few hours of focus.
Use the topic or subject that your child is learning to create a connection in your own life. Forming connections from the material to the real world will make them care about the subject more, increase their focus, and help them absorb the information.
This is also an excellent chance to use this time to create a deeper connection between you and your child. Sure, they’re doing virtual learning for school, but when they see how interested you are and how much you care, they’ll care too.
Connect With The Teacher
If you notice your child is having difficulty focusing on the task at hand or the material, you should check in with the teacher to see what you can do. Ask them what you can do to help improve your child’s focus. They might have great activities or ideas for you to try outside of the classroom and on breaks.
They can also give you information on setting your child up for success before school and how to improve their virtual learning environment. Ask them for any recommendations on interactive activities and any advice they are willing to share. They’ve been doing virtual learning for a while now. They probably have some great tips!
Eating the right food and getting a good night’s sleep can profoundly impact how your child performs while virtual learning. A tired and distracted kid will lose focus quickly, and when they are focused, they will not retain much information. Fuel them with a full eight hours of sleep and nutritious foods to keep them on task all day long.
Your child can’t know if they’re doing a good job if you don’t tell them, so don’t be shy when it comes to giving them praise and positive reinforcement. Compliment them when they do well or get a correct answer and provide them with praise when you can see they’re trying their best.
A lack of focus can stem from when a child is tired or about to give up emotionally or mentally. Nothing matters more to a child than having a solid support system. Encouraging words can boost a child’s confidence and have a positive impact on their level of focus.
Test out these different techniques and mix them together. Every child learns differently, so you need to find the right combination of tricks to use for your child. It doesn’t happen overnight, but as long as your child stays focused, that’s all that matters.