How to create an effective environment for children learning from home

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ST. LOUIS – This school year is complete with its own set of challenges, but FOX 2 has curated a list of suggestions from experts to help kids learn effectively at home.

FOX 2’s Monica Ryan interviewed Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, the founder of Children and Screens for some helpful tips for parents to use with children of all ages and abilities. Children and Screens hosts a weekly webinar on a variety of topics concerning children and digital media. Click here to learn more.

Schedules

A speech-language pathologist at the Yale Child Study Center Leah Booth, MA said creating a schedule that everyone in the home is aware of is important. She suggests a schedule rooted in pictures for children who aren’t great readers yet. Booth also recommends scheduling 30-minute blocks of activities and then moving on to the next. Also, parents should be aware of their own schedule for the day when creating one for the child so that they align.

Checklists

Associate Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Center for Technology in Education Dr. Linda Carling said checklists can be extremely helpful for children as well. In lessons where a child may have to do a few steps in order to complete an assignment, having a checklist in front of them can keep them focused on the task at hand. “For example, if the child is asked to watch a lesson, read a prompt, and then provide a written response to the prompt, the checklist would have keywords for each of these required activities: watch, read, write,” Carling said.

Dedicated School Devices

The Children and Screens Institute of Digital Media and Child Development said giving children a device dedicated to doing schoolwork at home can help kids stay focused. By keeping devices with gaming apps and websites along with messaging separated during learning hours the child’s attention will be able to be more focused on school.

Designate a Space for Schoolwork

The institute also recommends children have a quiet space specifically for school. Due to the many hours a child will be in this space, the institute advises the space is different than where the child would play games or watch TV. They also stressed the importance of comfortable seating so that there aren’t any orthopedic issues down the line.

Monitor the Child’s Engagement

Due to this school year’s circumstances being new to everyone the institute said it’s helpful to monitor a child’s engagement in their lessons. Some things to look for include, watching their eyes to see if they’re following along with the screen, see if they’re taking notes and ask questions at the end of a lesson to see if they are retaining the information. These steps can confirm that a child is truly learning. If a parent finds the opposite is true, the institute said to contact the school or teacher to see what changes can be made.

Take Breaks, Set Alarms

Another way to keep a cohesive schedule at home is to have children take breaks. One way to do this is to set alarms that signify it’s time for kids to get up, move around, take a break or have a snack. The alarms would be similar to a bell for when children are supposed to go to recess or switch classes.

Utilize Technology to Fit Your Needs

In a normal learning environment children would be around their peers all day, so they may be feeling isolated as they virtually learn according to an article from Yale Medicine. Booth suggests parents include FaceTime and playing games with family and friends online into the child’s schedule. “Make a digital village,” Booth said.

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