Engagement Strategies for Distance Learning
By Katy Turpen, EdD, Associate Professor ELED, George Fox University
Dr. Katy Turpen is an Associate Professor in the Education Department at George Fox University. She has been with George Fox for 12 years and currently sits as the director of the Elementary Education Degree Completion Program. Katy is passionate about education and preparing teachers and parents – especially in our current educational climate. Katy has two fabulous kids she is homeschooling this year and is excited to be sharing tips and tricks for families navigating a new education paradigm, be that Comprehensive Distance Learning, hybrid learning, or homeschool.
Kids Learn in Different Ways
There are multiple styles in which we learn and process information. Visual learners do well by seeing and reading, auditory learners excel through listening and speaking, and kinesthetic learners do best through hands-on activities. Figuring out the learning strengths of your child can help with things like homework and school. Conversations and learning become more productive when you can identify the way your child receives information and knowing your child’s learning style can help you present information in a way that makes it easier for them to learn. If you’re interested in discovering your child’s learning style, here is a great resource for getting started.
Let’s Go to School!
It is important that you create a physical space where your child is excited to “go to school”. This doesn’t have to be a traditional desk set-up, but it should be a fun and comfortable space that is special to your child. Here are some tips and tricks for setting up the ideal learning environment:
- Make it comfortable
- Let kids decorate
- Use a lap desk and comfortable chairs if a traditional desk is not for you
Creating an organized space is also important do reduce stress and chaos.
- Identify a place where supplies are kept and organized
- Utilize caddies, cubbies and baskets to put things away
Buying fun school supplies is a great way to increase engagement and make your child feel like they are “at school”. Ideas for special school supplies you can incorporate in to your “classroom”:
- Dry Erase Board
- Erasable Pens
- Scented Markers
Establish a school routine to ensure you are productive with your time, and everyone knows what to expect throughout the day.
- Start at the same time each day
- Get dressed and out of pajamas in the morning
- Eat a healthy breakfast
Age = Attention Span
Kids of all ages struggle to sit and listen attentively for long periods of time. When you are thinking about breaking up your day, consider your child’s age as a guide for how many minutes they can remain on task. If you have a 10-year-old, you can expect approximately 10 minutes of attention. Here are some important things to remember about breaking up your day:
- Quality vs. Quantity – a few minutes of focused work is better than a long period of time that lacks focus. You should only spend 20-30 minutes max on any one project, split in to blocks of time appropriate for their age
- Set timers to keep everyone on task
- Breaks are good
- Split video assignments in to 2-5-minute segments
- Fidget toys are effective
- Movement is important
- Create a checklist of items that need to be finished at the end of the day
Build on the Positive
Kids respond well to recognition, and acknowledgement of their hard work. Building on small victories encourages continued motivation and success. Brainstorm with your kiddo and let them decide what is motivating to them, so that you have tools to get through some of the harder tasks. Visual representation of rewards is helpful, and below are a few ideas for reward systems to keep kids engaged.
School Looks Like a lot of Things
Learning can happen in several ways. Don’t be afraid to put down the pen and paper and utilize other tools for education and mind breaks.
- Take Breaks
- Provide a choice bucket with activity options to choose from
- Rearrange the order of your day to keep things interesting
- Use fun apps and programs, such as: Audible, Amazon Unlimited, Prodigy, Epic, Storyline Online
If you enjoyed this information, join Dr. Katy Turpin online where she is always sharing tips, tricks and resources for distance learning.
Be sure to check out the Hayden Homes Back to HOME School Giveaway and enter to win a Back to HOME School Package, including:
A new iPad (or home computer)
Home school desk and chair
Books, activities and school supplies
Hayden Homes will work with the winner to make sure the package is exactly what they need to get this school year off to a great start!
For every package given away, Hayden Homes will donate one to a local nonprofit who is ensuring all kids in our community have access to the supplies they need for successful distance learning. ENTER TO WIN!