Helping Kids Pay Attention During Virtual School

Learning in front of a screen presents a new set of challenges for our kids. Here are eight ways you can help them focus and pay attention during virtual school.

Is your child nodding off during his or her virtual classes? Learning on a device without a teacher there to help keep kids on track means it’s easier than ever for kids to get distracted from their school work.

It’s up to you, mom and dad, to make sure that your kid stays on task. But how do you help them pay attention on top of working from home and all of your household duties? We’ve got eight easy-to-follow tips to help you out.

1. Know what “paying attention” actually means

If your child is learning through public school online, talk to their teacher and find out what they expect of their students and then have a conversation with your child so they know what’s expected of them.

Don’t assume that because your child is moving or talking that they aren’t paying attention.

2. Create a homework space

A child that is learning in their bedroom surrounded by toys or in the living room while the TV is on is going to have a harder time focusing.

Instead, set up a desk in a quiet, well-lit area of your home with little distractions. Place everything that your child needs at the desk so they don’t need to get up and look for a pencil in the middle of their lesson.

3. Keep a routine

Kids thrive on routine under normal circumstances and that’s especially important now that the world has been turned on its head.

Don’t let kids roll out of bed and log onto school. Try to create a routine for them. Get them up when they’d normally get up for school, have them get dressed and eat breakfast, too — maybe even schedule in some “me-time” for them before they have to log on.

4. Let them fidget

Staring at a screen for eight hours is tough for adults. It’s going to be the same with children, so don’t expect them to sit still all day. Let them get up, stretch and move around. Consider a fidget toy for kids who seem to be moving around excessively throughout the day.

5. Keep yourself available — at a distance

Depending on your child’s age, they may need you to start the video or be available if there’s technical difficulties. For older kids, you might have more of a hands-off role. Either way, parents should place themselves nearby to help out when needed but far enough away that they aren’t hovering.

Play around with your role until you figure out what your child needs from you while at school.

6. Work in breaks

Kids need recess to break up their long days at school and the same goes for those that are learning from home.

Work some time into your child’s day for brain breaks — and make sure you set up an activity during that time so that they don’t turn to their devices.

7. Keep lines of communication open

What works for your sister’s kids might not work for yours. Make sure you check in with your kids to make sure that their current set-up is working for them. Adjust based on their feedback.

8. Be patient

Virtual schooling is new for most and we’re all learning to navigate it as we go along. It can be frustrating for kids, so be mindful of that and allow them to vent as needed. Also, keep in mind that you and your child will eventually get the hang of things. Take time for yourselves and keep working at it.


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