From distractions online to distractions at home, sometimes virtual students need a little boost to get back into the school-day groove and stay on focus. As the weather gets warmer and the end of the school year approaches, virtual students can have an even more difficult time staying focused. Here are a few helpful tips from iCademy teachers on how to keep your students engaged with their work, even on their “off” days
Maintain a Schedule
Staying consistent with lessons, even on non-Live Lesson days, is vital for keeping your students engaged with their classes, but it isn’t just about schoolwork! Remember to set aside time each day for “brain breaks,” time spent outside, and ample time for exercise
Help Virtual Students Track Their Progress
It’s easy for students to look at a pile of assignments and get overwhelmed. Students can benefit from many different methods of tracking their progress. Some may find a weekly or daily planner helpful, while others may prefer a comprehensive to-do list or spreadsheet with due dates. Work with your student to determine which option is best for them. Seeing the boxes crossed off and all their accomplishments on paper can give them the motivation to keep going
Facilitate Daily Exercise
No matter the weather or time of year, getting your students up and moving is a great way to re-engage their mind in their school work. We highly recommend setting aside time in the morning and around noon for some form of physical activity, preferably outside.
Make it fun by setting daily or weekly activity goals! Challenge your students to set aside time for 1 hour of physical activity per day, broken out into 15 minute breaks throughout the day. If you need some inspiration, here are some fun and simple stretches to try.
Encourage Regular Movement
Beyond what we might think of as “normal exercise,” general movement can greatly help some students to focus. Placing supplies to prompt additional movement, like art supplies in bins at different heights, can re-engage a student’s wandering mind. Movement-encouraging seating—like stability ball chairs, floor cushions, bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, wobbly stools and more—can help higher-energy students with a greater need to fidget.
Designate Virtual Learning Spaces
For many students, setting up an environment that “guides the task” can take some pressure off of Learning Coaches to keep the student on-track. This space should be separate and distinct from other spaces in the home, i.e. not in bed where they sleep or surrounded by toys where they play. Using visual task lists can also help establish a learning space.
You can also designate different spaces for different school topics instead of designating one specific space for all classes. When movement or body shifts occur between lessons, it can help the student’s brain shift from one topic to the next.
Especially when students are getting frustrated, starting with quick, easy-to-accomplish tasks can help refocus them for other tasks on their to-do list. This could involve finishing up a quick assignment, reorganizing schoolwork, tidying up their learning space or re-writing a to-do list. Experiencing success in the simple task can motivate students to do the larger tasks ahead.
Move the Party Outside
Studies have shown that simply being outside can help humans focus our minds better. According to Child Mind Institute, “…studies agree that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.” From promoting creativity to reducing stress, there are plenty of reasons to spend time outside with your students every day!
One of the greatest things you can do is take the time to understand what your students are learning each week. Ask questions often and connect lessons to other things you do together during the week. Let them know that you think their lessons are cool, interesting and relevant. Not only will this make past lessons more meaningful, it incentivizes them to stay more engaged with future lessons.
Inject Fun Into Their Day
High levels of stress or negative feelings can stifle a student’s ability to learn effectively. Be a little silly and encourage smiles and laughter! According to Mayo Clinic, “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” All that to say, a laughing kid is a relaxed kid who’s ready to learn.
Distractions are a part of life, but hopefully these tips help to keep your kiddos motivated and having fun!