During COVID-19 lockdown online learning has become the normality for children. This can be a challenging time for children to stay engaged and focused when completing school work. Here are some suggestions and tips on how to make online learning a more positive experience.
Posture and good seating.
Maintaining good posture is important to prevent back and neck strain. Sitting at a computer screen for an extended period of time with an incorrect slouched posture can cause fatigue and loss of focus.
Here is a good way to teach kids to have good posture:
Say this little rhyme to remind children (and adults) of correct posture
1, 2, 3, 4 are my feet flat on the floor?
5, 6, 7, 8 is my back up fairly straight?
9, 10, 11, 12 this is how my pencil’s held and this is how my paper’s held.
Rest you forearms on the desk
Weight supported on your non-writing hand
Paper stabilised with the non-writing hand
Neck and shoulders relaxed
Movement break ideas for online learning
It is important for children to have some movement breaks between lessons when participating in online learning. Sitting down in the same position for an extended period of time can cause children to lose focus, become tired and distracted. To allow children to refocus, a movement break can be beneficial.
Yoga can also be a helpful tool for children to use to relax and refocus between online learning sessions. It allows children to stretch and move around before their next lesson. Some examples are:
Eye movement exercises
As children are looking at a screen for extended periods of time, some may develop eye strain. Here are some eye exercises to reduce the risk and impact of eye strain:
Hold your pointer finger a few inches away from your eye.
Focus on your finger.
Slowly move your finger away from your face, holding your focus.
Look away for a moment, into the distance.
Focus on your outstretched finger and slowly bring it back toward your eye.
Look away and focus on something in the distance.
Repeat three times.
Near and far focus
Hold your thumb about 10 inches from your face and focus on it for 15 seconds.
Find an object roughly 10 to 20 feet away, and focus on it for 15 seconds.
Return your focus to your thumb.
Repeat five times
Pick a point on the floor about 10 feet in front of you and focus on it.
Trace an imaginary figure eight with your eyes.
Keep tracing for 30 seconds, then switch directions.
For more information see: https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/eye-exercises#exercises
Some children may find online learning frustrating and tiring. Which is completely normal as it is difficult to sit still for such a long period of time and online learning is very different from what they are used to. So it is important that children know how to regulate their emotions, to allow online learning to be a positive experience. We can use the zones of regulation, developed by Occupational Therapist Leah Kuypers, as a way for children to identify and regulate their emotions, which allows them to continue learning.
Here are some activities children can do to self-regulate when moving through the zones.
When a child is in the blue zone they can:
Have a drink of water
Have something to eat
Talk to someone about their feelings
Quiet activity such as reading, doing a puzzle or colouring/drawing
When a child is in the green zone they can:
List what they would like to achieve (goals)
List what they have achieved, which promotes a positive outlook on themselves.
When a child is in the yellow zone they can:
Do deep breathing
Listening to calming music
Going for a walk outside
Completing a quiet activity such as colouring, drawing or reading
When a child is in the red zone they can:
Do deep breathing
Physical activity such as sport and games
Talking to someone about their feelings
Time out (quiet time to relax)
It is a good idea to use the green zone to educate children on all the zones, ask the child how they are feeling, what zone they are in and ask them what they can do to remain in the green zone.
Yellow to red prevention
When a child is in the yellow zone, it is possible they may enter the red zone. Therefore, it is beneficial if we can prevent that by encouraging the child to do some deep breathing, completing a quiet activity or utilise activities that work for them that assist them to calm down and self regulate.
Why timetabling is important?
Timetabling is important for children when online learning because at the moment things are very uncertain in everyone's lives as a result of COVID-19. Therefore, creating a timetable with a child provides some structure to their life at this uncertain time. It is also beneficial to make sure that children also have scheduled time for physical exercise, socialisation, fun and games, to maintain their physical and mental health.
Ideas of what to do during breaks
As children are at home during their recess and lunch breaks, it is important to encourage that even though they aren’t playing with their friends at school, they can still do fun things at home. It is important to show children that they should take advantage of having their breaks at home, as they can do activities they can’t do at school. These can include:
Playing with a pet
Playing a game (with a sibling or by themselves)
Going outside to play
Going for a walk with a parent or sibling
Reading a book
Maintaining Social Interaction
It is important for children to stay socially connected to classmates through out online schooling. An option to keep them socially connected to one another is to construct interactive games that can be played via zoom, integrating games involving thinking and problem solving. The kids will be encouraged to work together and collaboratively to solve the puzzle/game, it also builds skills to work together as a team.
Other options of social interaction can be quizzes at the beginning of the class, for example a kahoot can be played to switch the kids on ready for the lesson and give them a warm up of whats to come within that lesson.
Other games and interactive activities can be found here:
Create goals with children and discover what they would like to achieve during lockdown. This could be an online learning goal or a personal goal. It is a good idea for children to have a goal as they can have something to work towards and achieve, especially during these uncertain times.