Tips for Virtual Learning
Updated: Jan 22
Our most frequently asked questions are always about tips for virtual learning and learning from home.
Where should students be learning in their homes? Should kids be studying in their beds? Should they stay up late to complete an activity? How long for and with what supplies? How can distance learning feel easier to the parent and the learner?
While Covid-19 has dramatically affected the need for virtual learning, these concerns are not exclusive to homeschooling. Summer studying and homework should also have a specific virtual learning space all year round.
There isn’t a one size fits all solution to at-home learning environments; however, there are plenty of small shifts you can implement for big impact.
Below you will find practical tips for virtual learning that have helped students to focus and become independent, confident learners.
Prefer to listen?
Check out episode 118 of the Learn Smarter: The Educational Therapy Podcast where I discuss with my co-host, Stephanie, the framework of questions that parents should ask themselves before they set up a successful at-home learning environment.
Before you begin making changes to your child’s virtual learning space, ask yourself the below questions…
How many things are you asking your child to change at once? What is the priority? Will your child listen to you and if not, who will they listen to? What’s the goal you want to set?
Looking at the overall goal of how you want learning to function in your home rather than simply demanding changes will make it a smoother process for all involved.
Often the battle of where homework is complete is not as simple as it first seems. Remember when your little one had to move seats in class? It’s a big deal! So make sure you go about a new change together.
When setting up a distance learning space at home, there are a few environmental factors to consider.
First, a devoted workspace needs to be free from distraction and clear of clutter. Only set up a desk or table with the supplies your child needs for their specific at-home learning activities. Learners tend to want all their tools close by - and while 50 pencils might be comforting, it also reduces focus.
Your at-home learning space should preferably not be in the same room as a working parent or another child. Separate rooms are powerful and an easy way to avoid distractions if your home can accommodate them. This is particularly important for older children who can independently function without close supervision.
Beyond separate rooms, kids can also benefit from having their own at-home learning resources and devices where possible. If sharing is unavoidable then make sure to rotate who gets what to eradicate unnecessary fighting.
Another key area to consider is the level of comfort your learning space provides. Is the lighting too bright? Is the temperature too warm? Creating a cozy, safe space will encourage focus.
A set distance learning schedule is important for all ages - even adults! For smaller children, this means clearly laying out time for snacks, breaks, and recess. For older kids this helps you and them to understand what they are capable of - they might focus for 30 minutes or up to two hours.
Set aside time for both homework and schoolwork if you are learning from home. Making each activity clear and structured increases your child’s ability to focus.
The use of a timer is particularly helpful. Try a cube timer which allows children to physically see how much time is passing. Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs are another useful tool that removes distractions for learners but also for parents who need to focus on their own work.
We all work harder when we know there’s a prize to be won. By rewarding achievements such as test results, finishing a module, or simply learning a difficult sum, you’ll not only keep your child’s interest - they’ll begin to feel proud of their work too.
For those who love learning, a small reward at the end of the week is a great way to celebrate. For kids who need more encouragement, a daily star chart is an excellent practice.
Whilst you can build up to a bigger, desirable prize such as a games console or trip away, smaller treats can have just the same effect - without a high price tag. Appeal to your child’s favorite pastimes such as going to the cinema, a trip to the sweet shop, or an afternoon of play.
Importantly, don’t forget verbal praise. Taking the time to recognize children’s hard work and achievements is vital for maintaining motivation and the drive to learn.
Learning doesn’t have to be boring! To get children excited about their at-home schooling, it’s important to make sure to add an element of fun. The more we engage and enjoy learning experiences, the more likely we are to retain new information.
Mix up your at-home agenda with elements that appeal to various learning styles and your child’s natural competitiveness. Gamifying the experience will increase your child’s motivation and willingness to learn.
Think about what your child likes to do outside of the virtual classroom. Do they like playing games? Try including a quiz or interactive activity. Are they creative? Get hands-on with drawing and crafts. Or if they’re a visual learner, look for videos, TV shows, and animations.
Social skills are just as important as what we learn in the classroom. We learn to share, communicate and interact with children and adults. In an at-home learning environment, this can be particularly difficult to accommodate. Therefore it’s important to include virtual socialization into your schedule, just as you would in a classroom.
Set up opportunities for online interaction with your child’s friends and schoolmates by introducing regular video chats, group games, and chat messaging. By talking in real-time, children can discuss the topic at hand and help those who are finding the task more difficult.
The most important thing to remember when setting up a virtual learning space at home is to change one thing at a time. Which of the above will excite your child the most? Make their new environment a fun, rewarding experience and you’ll reap the benefits.
Don’t forget to have grace and compassion for yourself, particularly during these unprecedented times. Virtual learning is no easy feat and requires a lot of patience.
If you need extra support with your child’s at-home learning, consider the help of a trained expert.
Homeschooling is a particularly tough gig for parents who are managing multiple children and their own jobs. If virtual learning is impacting your quality of life and your family’s home life during the pandemic, seek the support of virtual learning assistance.
Kapp Educational Therapy Group offers a variety of distance learning experiences to facilitate education, helping parents who don’t have time or need extra support during Covid-19.
Whether you have multiple learners, need 1:1 support at home, or even have a few friends you can create a learning pod with - we provide expanded hours to implement and supplement children’s learning.