Online learning isn’t just a struggle for children. It can be extremely overwhelming for parents and caregivers as well. Younger kids often need the assistance of an adult to manage their daily schedules, troubleshoot technical difficulties, help with homework, and ensure assignments are submitted on time. Families with multiple kids and/or children who struggle with attention and focus can find this especially challenging, and if one or more parents are simultaneously trying to work from home, it can feel downright impossible. If you want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning, these tips and ideas will help!
How to Keep Kids Motivated with Virtual Learning
1. PLAN AND PREPARE
One of the most helpful things you can do for yourself and your family while navigating virtual learning is to spend some time each evening prepping everyone for the following day. Load/unload the dishwasher, prep breakfast and set the table, make sure your children have their homework completed and their log-in information ready for the following day, block off time to focus on high priority work tasks, and do anything else that will ensure you aren’t in a mad scramble when you wake up in the morning. If you have younger kids, it might be helpful to write out their daily schedule on a chalkboard so they know what to expect throughout the day. The more organized you are, the smoother your morning will be, which will ensure everyone starts the day feeling positive and motivated instead of frazzled and overwhelmed.
2. DO ONE THING YOU LOVE WHEN YOU WAKE UP
If your kids are learning remotely and you aren’t physically leaving the house in the morning, chances are you have a little extra time to play with before your kids log-on for the first lesson of the day. A great way to keep everyone happy and engaged is to start the day doing something you love. This could be snuggling with your kids in bed for an extra 10 minutes, having a family dance party while you’re getting dressed, or making a proper sit-down breakfast to enjoy together. Or, if your kids are older and more interested in hanging out with their friends, they may want to FaceTime with their BFF while you practice yoga. The point is to block off a little bit of time for everyone to do something that brings them joy shortly after they wake up so they are motivated to get out of bed each day.
3. EMPOWER YOUR KIDS
If you want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning, make sure you’re empowering them to take control over their daily schedule. A little responsibility can go a long way in making a child feel as though they are a contributing member of the family, and when we praise our kids for a job well done, we are teaching them that they’re capable, that we trust them, and that their contributions matter, making them more likely to help in the future. And since moms and dads need help more than ever right now, don’t be afraid to delegate morning chores to your little ones and to allow them to take on some of the responsibility of virtual learning so they feel accomplished and important.
4. SPEND QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
Another important tip for those who want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning is to ensure you are blocking off time to spend together each day. It may feel like you’re already doing this given that you’re cooped up inside together all day every day, but I’m talking about distraction-free, one-on-one time. Kids need to feel a connection with you in order to feel safe and secure, and this is especially important right now when their worlds have been turned upside down and they can’t physically see their friends.
Remember that spending quality time with your children doesn’t need to be an Olympic event. You don’t need to pull out all of your board games, put together a 1,500-piece puzzle together, or play dress-up. You just need to carve out 5 to 10 minutes of time to remind your kids that they matter to you. Put your phone down. Look them in the eye. Talk to them about the things they are looking forward to at ‘school’ that day. Ask them about their friends. Brainstorm ideas for a fun (socially distanced) family outing that weekend. You get the idea…
5. LEARN HOW TO MANAGE EVERYONE’S ENERGY EFFECTIVELY
In case you haven’t noticed, I have a THING for productivity, and one of the best tips I’ve ever been given is to learn how to manage my energy effectively. The idea is to pinpoint when you are at your most productive, and then organize your schedule such that you can take advantage of that time to tackle your most important tasks. I have found this helpful not only in my life, but in my daughter’s as well.
If you want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning, an important part of this involves structuring your days such that you can tap into everyone’s energy as effectively as possible. For example, you may find it helpful to get up before your kids to focus on items that require you to concentrate and then use the time they are online with their class and need your help to catch up on mindless tasks like emails and administrative stuff. Your kids, on the other hand, may have an easier time focusing on their schoolwork after eating and moving around, so you can strategically plan snacks, outside time, and brain breaks throughout the day to help break things up so as to maintain their motivation and concentration.
6. ALLOW FOR BREAKS
If you’re trying to figure out how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning, this one is pretty important yet often overlooked. Working for long periods of time without a break can lead to feelings of fatigue, stress, and frustration, and proactively scheduling regular 5-10 minute breaks allows a child’s brain to rest before fatigue and frustration sets in. Regular brain breaks have also been shown to:
- Improve attention and focus
- Increase retention of material being taught
- Improve emotional regulation
- Reduce behavioral problems
- Increase motivation!
CLICK HERE for a list of age-appropriate brain breaks!
7. CHECK IN OFTEN
While it may seem as though you are pretty involved in your child’s education while he or she is learning remotely, chances are you tune out during his or her lessons so you can focus on work and/or household tasks. And if you have older kids, you may not be part of their online learning whatsoever. Whatever your situation looks like, take the time to check in and see how your child is coping with online learning on the regular. Are they engaged? What aspects do they find challenging? Are they finding ways to connect with their friends outside of their lessons? Keep the lines of communication open and remind your child they can come to you to discuss anything from technical difficulties to homework struggles to friendship woes.
8. CREATE A REWARD CHART
Reward charts are another great tool to use if you’re trying to figure out how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning. They tend to be most effective in kids aged 2-10 years, and offer a simple way to keep kids motivated without power struggles and consequences. I’ve written an entire post about how to successfully implement reward charts, including links to my favorite free printable options as well as some great budget-friendly customizable options, which you can read HERE.
9. THINK BEYOND SCHEDULES AND TEXTBOOKS
My final tip for those who want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning is to remember that education isn’t confined to textbooks, worksheets, quizzes, and exams, and a child doesn’t need to be sitting at a desk to learn. While you may feel pressure to supplement your child’s virtual lesson plans with additional learning opportunities each day, it’s important to remember that your kids are learning all the time. Whether you’re cooking a meal, sewing a button onto a shirt, cleaning, gardening, or balancing your check book, get your kids involved! Embrace the opportunity to spend quality time together while teaching your little one important life skills.
Remote learning can be challenging for parents and children alike, especially with younger kids and those who already struggle to focus and concentrate for long periods of time. If you want to know how to keep kids motivated with virtual learning, I hope the ideas in this post inspire you to think outside the box and finds way to connect with your kids and help them stay engaged with their school work!