It’s all about the setup.
As the mom of four boys, ages 4-18, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of virtual learning during the last four months.
But as the founder of Great Speech, an online speech therapy platform, I have discovered how to maximize learning success by setting up the physical space as well as setting expectations.
Here are my top eight tips. They have worked with my boys. They have worked for my clients. And I know you will find success with your own families.
1. Minimize Visual Distractions
Just like when doing homework, set up the physical space to minimize visual distractions. The less distractible objects available to play with, grab, pull, or touch during the online activity, the more focused your children will be, and the greater the chances for successful learning.
A desk and office chair work for some children. For others, a folding table or an inflatable wobble cushion enhances learning. Play around with your furniture choices until you find the right combination of table and chair.
2. Maximize Concentration
Designate a physically quiet space to maximize concentration. Any background auditory distractions such as people walking around, cooking in the kitchen or talking on the phone is picked up during a Zoom meeting and can interfere with your child’s level of concentration. For some, incorporating headphones, especially noise-canceling ones, increases focus while minimizing auditory distractions.
3. Decide Which Technology Works Best
When possible, always choose a computer laptop or desktop over a tablet or a phone. The bigger screen allows for better engagement. Additionally, children associate the iPad with watching movies and playing games. By using a desktop or laptop computer, you are setting a more serious tone for the activity.
4. Set the Schedule
Set a schedule so your child knows when a session or activity is scheduled to begin and end. Sharing times helps set expectations and gives your child a feeling of control.
5. Coordinate Naps, Lunch and Early Risers
Identify when your child learns best and schedule virtual sessions when possible around your child’s optimum learning schedule. We have found most kids do their best learning in the earlier part of the day but it does vary with each child.
6. Praise Hard Work
Set up in advance a positive reinforcement or reward system for specific tasks and milestones. Match the reward to each child and vary the choices to keep the momentum. At the same time, discuss consequences for going off task. Structure can be super beneficial as long as it is realistic and implementable and setting expectations in advance avoids miscommunication and diminished results.
Side note: It’s best not to use computer time as a positive or negative reinforcement in this age of virtual learning. It’s difficult to take away computer time when children need to be on the computer for school.
7. Involve Yourself in the Process
Monitor the learning session from afar and let your child know you will be checking in. While virtual learning is often viewed as an independent activity, it’s important for your child to know you will be checking in regularly to observe the process.
8. Help Your Kids ‘Own’ It
Probably my most important recommendation is involving your children in the planning as much as possible. Particularly with older children, there is a strong sense of ownership when they are included in the process.
And ownership is a major component in promoting success.
Are You Looking for Help with Speech Therapy While Your Kids are at Home?
Great Speech is ready to support your children at home during their virtual learning. Our individualized and interactive programs are ready to go. You can start speech therapy at home today.
Virtual Telepractice allows us to deliver professional services from another location. We are excited to have the ability to provide services during this time. Schedule an introductory call today.