8 Home Learning Tricks To Keep Your Kids Engaged Published January 8, 2021 Call it remote learning, online learning, distance learning or homeschooling, there are millions of parents across the country whose children no longer head off to school but rather wake up within the walls of their virtual classroom. While there have always been those parents who choose homeschooling for their children’s education, the COVID-19 pandemic has chosen that option for many who never dreamed they’d (and perhaps swore they’d never) see the day. Well, as they say, never say never. Maybe parents no longer have to worry about their children missing the bus, but distance learning provides a whole new set of challenges, including the big one—keeping them engaged. How to keep kids engaged in online learning What do we mean when we say we want our kids to be engaged in learning? The definition of engage is “to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).” Evidence of the word dates back to 1515-25, stemming from the French word engager. It combines the prefix en- with the word gage, which means “something, as a glove, thrown down by a medieval knight in token of challenge to combat.” It’s also an archaic word for “challenge,” which seems fitting when it comes to how challenging it is to get kids to stayed engaged during online learning. It’s hard enough to keep kids engaged in a typical classroom setting. Schooling at home adds even more distractions and diversions. The good news is there are some things parents can do to help keep them focused and actually learn during distance learning. Here are eight things parents can do to help kids stay engaged while learning at home. 1. Create a dedicated workspace Don’t just let your child wake up and work from their bed or plop down on the couch for schoolwork. Set up a specific place that’s as quiet and free from distractions as possible. Provide a chair where they can sit up straight and enough space for them to write and complete other tasks. Also make sure they have paper, pencils, and any other supplies they may need, so they don’t have to continuously get up to go find things. 2. Fuel the fidgeting While the idea of giving kids toys during school sounds like a big distraction, fidget toys have been shown to actually enhance learning. They come in a variety of shapes and materials, from stress balls to fidget spinners, and they can help kids redirect energy and reduce stress and anxiety. Consider putting a supply of fidget toys near their computer so they can reach for them anytime. 3. Great expectations As different from an experience as this may be, make sure your child understands the expectations and proper etiquette when it comes to online learning. That means not distracting others with their behavior (e.g., no spinning that fidget spinner on your head while you’re on camera), not eating while they’re in class, and being appropriately dressed and ready to go when class starts. 4. Set a schedule If your student’s learning is synchronous, meaning it happens in real time, then the schedule is set for you. If, however, their learning is set up to be asynchronous, meaning they are able to do it at their own pace, then setting a schedule with them can help prevent procrastination, provide order to their day and help them stay on task. Learn more about the terms synchronous and asynchronous here. 5. Set goals These goals may not look like those of other school years, but that’s okay because this school year probably doesn’t look like any other school year, either. Make the goals attainable, but lofty enough that they will feel accomplished when meeting them. Depending on their age, things like reward charts or other incentives for achieving their goals may provide extra incentive. 6. Monitor online activity While they may have to be online for learning, it’s also easy for some kids to veer off into other online areas. One minute they’re doing math, the next they may be watching Tik Tok videos, playing online games, or chatting away with friends. If you’re not able to look over the shoulder regularly, you may want to employ the help of some apps that can help you monitor what they’re actually doing online and/or lockdown sites they shouldn’t be on when they should be learning. 7. Call in reinforcements Sometimes, parents need a little more help. Fortunately, tutoring is widely available online. For example, Dictionary.com offers 1:1 sessions, group study and homework help virtually to students in all grades. Who couldn’t use a little tutoring backed by the Dictionary? 8. They need to move it, move it Before school, after school or when there are breaks in the day, get them moving. Have them walk the dog, go outside and play, do a bit of yoga or some calisthenics or follow along with an online exercise video. Research shows that exercise boosts brain power and helps learning, and it can help burn off some of their energy too. No matter how strong of a student a child may be, paying attention to a screen isn’t the same as being in a classroom. Teachers are doing the best they can, but they can use all the help they can get at home too. Hopefully, this pandemic will soon be a thing of the past, and we can go back to times when only those parents who choose to homeschool are the ones homeschooling. Looking for more ways to boost your kid's engagement along with their confidence? Dictionary Academy Tutors are ready to help!