Schools and teachers are doing their best to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks during the 2020/21 school year, but parents need to be prepared to assist in their learning should their child be required to isolate at home. MindFuel, a nonprofit pioneer in the online learning space and STEM (science, tech, engineering & math) programs, was quick to support with online learning when the pandemic hit in March 2020, by offering its award-winning programs free of charge to all Canadian students, teachers and parents.
“Online learning requires more than just putting the curriculum onto tablets, we need to find engaging ways to teach kids and ensure they are learning and having fun,” said Cassy Weber, CEO of MindFuel.
To further assist parents and educators, MindFuel has compiled a list of tips to help keep kids engaged, even if they’re learning online.
1) Limit distractions and make sure the space is functional.
Removing distractions like other electronic devices and screens will go a long way in helping your child find success learning online. The space should be comfortable, well-lit and quiet to help your child concentrate.
2) Encourage regular breaks and stretching, and remember mental health is just as important as physical health.
It can be hard to stay focused when looking at a computer screen for a prolonged period of time, so make sure your child is taking frequent breaks throughout the day to rest their eyes and stretch their muscles. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused undue stress in all of our lives, so ensure your child is practicing healthy habits such as eating well and sticking to a regular bed time to help reduce this stress. Also, encourage your child to find healthy and positive ways to release their stress. This could look like taking time to play a game, diving into a new book, playing outside or finding other activities you can do together.
3) Turn learning into a game for a change of pace.
MindFuel knows how hard it can be to get students excited about learning, so they have developed programs through a game-based platform, designed to challenge students to think critically and apply their lessons to real-world scenarios. Is there a certain topic your student is struggling with? Explore thousands of queries and topics at MindFuel’s wonderville.org to reignite their passion for learning.
4) Stay in touch with your child’s teacher and class.
Though your child may be learning from home, it is still important to remember they are part of a class, with a teacher ready to support them as needed. Make a point of emailing your child’s teacher to ensure they’re staying on pace and encourage your child to schedule online study sessions with their friends to help keep their spirits up.
5) Encourage your child to enhance their learning and try to learn something new.
You can pair your child’s lesson plan with a range of related topics and games thanks to MindFuel’s student-approved resources. Do they have a particular interest in one of the topics their class is learning about? MindFuel has built an extensive library of science videos, animations, games and interactives to allow students to deep dive into the areas they want to learn more about. Why not encourage your child to pursue a new interest and topic altogether? MindFuel is currently offering free registration for Codingville, a game-based platform dedicated to teaching youth the foundations of coding.
6) Allow for flexibility in your child’s learning schedule.
While they will still have set class times, the benefit of learning from home is that your child can take advantage of a flexible schedule when completing assignments. By allowing them to switch between topics and take them at their own pace, their odds of success will drastically increase. For example, they could focus better in the mornings, so that might be a good time to tackle the subjects they struggle with.
7) Setting goals and rewarding success goes a long way.
When it seems like isolation will never end, a good way to keep your child motivated is to find ways to reward them. Maybe they get some extra time on the computer if they complete their reading on time. Or they get to pick what the family will do together that evening since they did well on a quiz. Take the time to celebrate their successes, even the little ones, and you will notice a big difference in your child’s attitude towards school.
8) Find ways to do things together throughout the day.
If you’re also working from home, another benefit of distance learning is the increased quality time with your child. Plan to take your lunches together and check in with them on your coffee break. Your child will appreciate the company and it’s a good way to see how they are coping.
9) Take your child’s learning outside when possible.
While the delivery of their learning will be online when they are at home, you can find ways to supplement your student’s learning in the backyard or community in general. Maybe they’re learning about the lifecycle of a certain bug, so why not try to find one for yourself? If they are learning about shapes, see if any occur naturally in the area.
10) Incorporate regular classroom activities into your child’s day.
Children thrive on routine. Chances are there are regular activities your student’s teacher plans throughout the week. Maybe there’s a theme for certain days of the week, or a certain activity they do together such as reading a book chapter at the end of the day. You can ask your teacher if they have any recommendations to make your child’s at-home learning a little easier!
At-home learning is a new reality Canadian students may face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MindFuel is committed to helping families adapt their learning during these uncertain times. For more information, visit www.mindfuel.ca.
This article is from Mindfuel.ca