5 Mom-Tested Tips To Make Zoom Learning Work For Your Kid

By now, remote learning has become many families’ new normal, but that doesn’t mean every kid is a fan. Many parents are still struggling to figure out how to use Zoom for class every day, let alone how to help their kids focus while they’re learning online. Being able to attend school in pajama pants certainly has its perks, but it can be hard for kids to adjust to distance learning in a home environment that’s rife with distractions and lacking the friends and teachers they love so much.

Unfortunately, Zoom classrooms and hybrid learning may be a part of our lives for a while longer, so we talked to real parents to see how they’re coping. Here, moms share their tried and true solutions for helping kids stay invested in online learning, even when they’d rather be doing literally anything else. See if these brilliant ideas make the school day a little easier for your own distance learners!

Make a dedicated learning space

Many kids work better when they have a quiet space that feels like its their own. Obviously, not every family has the space to give kids a private room or desk, and if everyone is working and learning at home, it may seem impossible to give kids a solo area. Luckily, there are some easy ways around those issues.

Rachel Aiello of Valley Stream, New York, says her preschooler uses a trifold board set up around her screen in order to focus. For Michelle Price of Chicago, Illinois, a dedicated work space simply means keeping everything her kids need in one spot that they return to each day. One more way to make it feel like they’re working in a peaceful place? “Noise cancelling headphones so noise in the house isn’t an issue,” Price says. “It makes a big difference.”

Let them get their wiggles out

It’s difficult for most kids to sit still for long periods of time. Working movement into their daily routine can help. “We do movement breaks,” says Price. “Literally 15 jumping jacks or running up and down the stairs at least once an hour or when they feel their energy flagging.”

Sometimes kids also need an outlet for the wiggles while sitting in class. The moms we spoke to recommend fidget spinners, wiggle seats, stress balls, Silly Putty, Play-Doh, and other squishy toys to help kids who need to move. These options provide quiet ways to get the wiggles out that won’t disrupt anything happening in class. If kids are old enough, they may even find that chewing gum or mints helps them relax and pay attention.

Create a schedule

For some kids, timing is everything. It can be hard for kids to focus if they’re sleepy or if they aren’t getting enough free time before school starts in the morning. “If [my son] just woke up or is tired, it’s not happening,” says Tiffany Hagler-Geard of upstate New York.

Most school schedules designate specific start and end times, but kids may feel more energized if they get some free time before class starts or on their breaks. Have them wake up a few minutes early and do something fun, like drawing, reading, or playing a game. Additionally, help them create a sleep routine so they get to bed on time and feel ready to go in the morning.

Make time for socializing

We’re living in a virtual world because of the pandemic, but if school time is the only time kids are on Zoom, they might associate it with work and find it less enjoyable. Many parents are concerned about screen time and don’t want to add extra hours to the time their kids spend on the computer or tablet, but scheduling a few fun events on Zoom may help them feel more comfortable. “We normalize it by having social Zooms,” Aiello explains. “The kids do things like reading a book together, doing homework together, dance parties, and watching a movie or show together.”

Turn off the camera

Certain things about virtual learning may make kids uncomfortable. For example, maybe they don’t like their classmates being able to see them every second, or maybe they feel uncomfortable about showing certain parts of their home or bedroom.

If your child seems uneasy about the time they have to spend on Zoom, see if there’s anything you can do to make the experience better for them. “I asked the guidance counselor for permission for my kid to turn off her camera,” says Amy Hatch of Rochester, New York. “It worked wonders. She was so self-conscious that it was distracting her.”

Final note: Teachers have different rules for their classrooms, and they may not all be okay with things like fidget spinners or turning off the camera. Always check with your child’s teacher before implementing new items and ideas into your child’s distance learning routine. In most cases, they’ll be more than happy to help you come up with solutions to help your child be successful.

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