Schools recently announced distance learning for fall 2020 throughout California and many schools across the US. The struggle many students (and families) faced at the end of the spring semester will continue.
It’s not going to be easy going back to distance learning. However, there are strategies and technologies that can make it less painful.
Why Attention Matters in Distance Learning
For both teachers and students, paying attention can be especially challenging during the coronavirus crisis as it upends what everyone is used to. It is a lot harder for students to pay attention on Zoom than during in-person classes (a distraction is only a click away) and teachers are still getting comfortable with the new way of teaching. Plus, the home environment is not conducive to focus with everyone working from home.
Nearly 4 of 5 teachers think their students’ ability to focus has gotten worse with school-related tasks during the shutdown, according to an April EdWeek Research Center survey. When students cannot pay attention during distance learning, they are more likely to fall behind.
However, there are things that parents and teachers can do to make things better.
Reduce At-Home Distractions
Your child will likely engage the online learning class better with headphones that block out ambient sounds and a microphone that amplifies your student’s voice. Try to avoid visual distractions around your child when he or she is learning. For example, if your child’s learning space is shared with your working space, consider using a trifold poster board or have your child’s desk face a corner, creating something similar to a cubicle where your child can work and focus better.
Minimize On-Camera Distractions
Some of the best classroom instructors have challenges adapting to teaching online. These teachers need your patience and support. Sharing this tip for maintaining a remote learning classroom that fully engages students will likely be welcomed. Video cameras can capture things going on behind other students. So, teachers can be more aware of these distractions and ask students to minimize them. When students minimize these distractions, all students can more easily focus on the class.
Recognize it is challenging for your child to stare at a computer screen for long periods of time (just like it is for you). Breaks to rest your child’s eyes are recommended. As the class schedule allows, help your student take a break to look at a point far away, maybe look for birds outside the window and follow their movements for a minute or two.
Getting up and moving is also a great break. Have your child help you create a favorite music playlist to dance to during breaks. Between classes, celebrate his focus by encouraging a quick dance party! No judgment if Mom, Dad, and siblings join in 🙂
Develop a Schedule
Work to establish a regular schedule that includes breaks and flexibility for when days have their ups and downs. Setting one day each week to have a theme or focus for independent work (e.g. Math on Monday) can help your child feel a sense of accomplishment that she accomplished a substantial task. Using a visual schedule to keep track of the week will also help your child focus.
For children with attention challenges, these strategies can help, but there is more we can do. BrainLeap’s Attention Training games help children train the skills that can improve attention, including fast and accurate shifts of attention, inhibitory control, and anticipatory focus.
With the right strategies, your child with attention challenges can have a better distance learning experience.