Due to Covid-19, many schools have replaced in-person learning with online school. While these technological advances have tremendous advantages in helping kids continue their education during the pandemic, hours and hours of screen time can be difficult for little ones to endure.
So we enlisted the help of Pediatric Occupational Therapist Jessica Romano, at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital's Pediatric Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy department, to provide five tips to help kids stay focused during daily virtual school lessons.
Why Is Online School So Challenging for Kids?
According to Romano, “During virtual school, kids have to sit in front of a computer all day and are not having enough rest breaks. They might be getting up for lunch breaks, but at home they aren’t getting up between classes, and they aren’t walking around the classroom or to their next class, so it’s very difficult for them to sit still the entire day.”
How can a parent help their child be more comfortable at home while still being attentive during lessons?
Here are five tips Romano recommends to set your children up for success with online learning.
Five Tips for Online School Success
Datasource: Online learning tips
1. Set Your Child’s Workspace Up For Success
Pretend as if every day is a normal school day. Your kids need to get up and complete their normal morning routine, and then go to where they will be completing their online schooling. Make sure they have a book bag with all their supplies, crayons, pencils, workbooks - everything they need for the day. That way they don’t have to get up to search for these supplies throughout the day and get more easily distracted.
2. Posture Perfect
Modify the chair that your child is using. We always want to consider their posture, their hips, knees and ankles at 90 degrees with their feet firmly placed on the ground. And then you can change the surface they are sitting on. You can have children sit or bounce on a therapy ball, or a wiggle stool, something that’s going to give them enough stability, but also give them the ability to move while they are sitting.
3. Movement Breaks to Break Up the Day
Another great tool for parents is to create movement breaks. Between classes kids can do wall pushups, jumping jacks or animal crawls. Swing sets and trampolines can help burn off the extra energy as well.
4. Sensory Toys to the Rescue
Fidget blocks or tangle toys can be used at the desk. These fidget toys give busy hands something to do, as long as they don’t distract from school work.
5. School Movement Tools
Parents can also invest in a bouncy band or therapy bands that can be attached to the legs of the chair. Kids can bounce their feet while learning. Parents can also attach a therapy band to a chair or table leg for kids to kick their legs. This gets some of their energy out, which can help them focus longer.
After school is just as important as in school, so remember to give your kids plenty of exercise and no screens.
Romano does not recommend TV, video games, or more computer time after school, opting for bike riding, swimming, going to a park, or even a sensory exercise like cooking a meal.
With all of these recommendations, sitting in a proper chair, setting up students for success, movement breaks, and after school exercise, this will help kids focus longer, get the wiggles out, and be more successful with learning online.
If your child is having issues focusing, visit the Pediatric Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy page to learn more about the programs offered at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.