5 Strategies to Make the Best of Kindergarten Virtual Learning
September 15, 2020
Distance or virtual learning is not new but for many people, it is a new experience. Kids are resilient and adapt better than most grown adults but it’s still difficult to think of our youngest learners getting the majority of their education through a computer screen. I want to give you 5 Strategies to Make the Best of PreK or Kindergarten Virtual Learning.
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Many adults that have to sit at the computer most of the day have horrible posture- myself included. To remedy or fix this problem you need to either be very conscious about how you are sitting or have a really great chair. Both of these are next to impossible for our smallest learners. They wiggle so much that there is no paying attention to how they are sitting. Desk and computer chairs are not designed for kids in mind normally and if they are, the price tag is $$$$. Sitting for a long time is so much easier when you are comfortable.
So how can we make these little kiddos comfort level optimal for learning?
Get a chair that you can add a cushion for the back and to boost them up to they are looking at the computer screen strait on. Optimal sitting is all about 90 degree angles. Chin, Hips, Knees, and Ankles. Get a step stool for the floor to make sure the knees and ankles match the right angle as well.
Bonus: I let my son keep a beach ball under the desk. It helps him stay focused. He has something he can wiggle without being a distraction to others in his virtual meetings. They also make giant rubber bands that go around chair legs. This option is even more stable and less able to distract than the beach ball. You do know your kid the best though, so if you think this would be more of a distraction than a helpful tool- skip it!
Even though these kids are very little they can learn and understand many things. You will be amazed by how fast they can pick up some basic computer skills with some:
Modeling (Showing them how.)
Guidance (Letting them do it with some help.)
Practice (Doing it on their own while you watch.)
The first skill they need to master for virtual learning is using the mouse. Left Click and Moving to a target object are the most used and important skills. Model moving the arrow, lining up the arrow onto a target, and clicking to achieve a goal. Right-click is not used much so you don’t need to focus on that one. Some things they will have to click on include:
Hand Raise Feature
Video On/ Off
Play, Stop and Pause Videos
No matter the format your child’s school is using you will still have to help guide your student through. Eventually they will become proficient at these skills and therefore ready to do this learning more independently. If you watch during the beginning classes of virtual learning your child’s teacher will have pictures and games to help your kiddo learn these skills. The three main things they will use are pictures of where to click, patient wait time and encouraging praise. Don’t worry, after all that modeling and patience- they will get to the meaty learning parts!
There seems to be a lot of wait time. Why? And what can I do to help my kiddo stay focused?
Wait time is a big part of the model, guide, and practice portion of getting the kids to work independently. Even when they are waiting they are learning. They will learn better and enjoy it more when they have gained that independence. Ways to help your kiddos focus during wait times when the teacher is giving the other students patience to learn and master the procedures:
The ball or band under the desk which I mentioned earlier in the post. Click the picture above for an Amazon Link.
Having some paper, pencil or crayons next to the computer for doodling while waiting. Bonus points if you get them doodling something from the lesson.
A fidget spinner or stress ball that they can keep on the side out of the camera view.
Remember what I already said, you know your kid and if they can handle some of these wait time ideas or not. If you give them the chance and they are to distracted you may have to sit and help encourage them to focus.
Another important way to help them focus is to take good advantage of all breaks given. In Kindergarten there are many wiggle breaks in each lesson as well as those away from the computer. For the in meeting breaks, I am sure there will be singing and dancing. Encourage it! DO it with your kid. Help them notice their friends enjoying it- peer pressure goes a long way.
Bonus: I notice my daughter participates and focus’ more when she has the grid view on during the meeting. She can see all her classmates as well as the teacher. It’s that peer pressure.
During the breaks away from the computer be sure to have snacks and drinks ready. Encourage a bathroom break, engage them about what they have been doing, give them some attention, or let them play for a few moments.
When to Still Step in and Help
Your little learners will still need some help. What will they need help with and how to know when to help.
You will still need to help model and guide those basic mouse skills.
Help them sign into the meeting and navigate the learning material.
Some of there work will have to be submitted with help.
Don’t forget, most importantly to encourage them to focus and get excited about this new school stuff!
Bonus: Give the teacher some feedback and praise! They are all working super hard and want to work out for your kiddos as much as you do.
These can be great if you have a lot of distracting background noise happening in your house. Sometimes when you are working to get your kiddos independent it can be good for you to hear what is going on. This way you can know when yo step in and help.
My Kindergartner does better with the track pad on the lap top. She started with that and she is left handed. It seems she is more comfortable using that tool. Some Kiddos may find things easier with an external mouse. We got my son one of those and he is doing very well with it.
I mentioned this tool earlier. It will help keep the little legs and feet in the most comfortable position, therefore they will be ready to focus. This is especially important if they are sitting in an over sized chair.
Seat Cushions/ Chairs
Sitting still is very hard when you are uncomfortable. Paying attention is so hard when you are uncomfortable. Here are some more ideas to get the most comfortable seat for our little learners while they are participating in virtual learning.
All the little things you kiddo need while learning like books, reading buddies, white boards, markers, pencils, crayons, and manipulatives will need to be stored away somewhere.
As parents, it’s hard to change the expectations that we have for our children. We expect a lot of them and for them. Do your best to be patient and encouraging. When things are frustrating for you be sure to model how you would want them to react if they were having the same frustrating feelings. Be sure to check out my other post7 Tips for Easy Elementary Distance and Online Learning.