Engagement Strategies for Distance Learning

By Katy Turpen, EdD, Associate Professor ELED, George Fox UniversityHayden Homes Back to Home School Giveaway Collage

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

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.

Lets Go to School

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

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

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

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.

  • Play
  • Walk
  • Talk
  • Cooking
  • 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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/720646598483414

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drturpen/

Back to Home School Giveaway

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!

Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks while Distance Learning

Mom and son making Breakfast in their new Hayden HomesarningIt is important, even in a distance learning setting, to maintain a nutritious and well-balanced diet for your kiddo. We know it’s a challenge to prep and serve meals and snacks that keep kids energized and focused, without keeping you in the kitchen all day. Below are some tips and information to help get your family off to a healthy start this year.

  • Start the day off strong, with a protein based-healthy breakfast before the day’s lessons. A healthy breakfast will give your kids the energy and brain power they need to stay active, keep up with the days routine and make it until lunch without hunger getting in the way. Check out these 28 Ideas for a High Protein Breakfast to help you stay creative in the kitchen.
  • Lunch time can be challenging when you want your kids to eat healthy and they have their own idea about what makes a great lunch. If you’re looking for fun ideas that children will enjoy, try these 50 Lunch Ideas for Kids at Home. These recipes are balanced, quick to whip up and suitable for kids of all ages.
  • It is recommended that kids have two nutritious snacks throughout the day to provide important nutrients they need between meals and help boost their brain power throughout the day. During the week, this means children should have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to meet the demands of their growing bodies and brains. Learn more about the benefits of healthy snacks and how to prepare something your child will enjoy here.

Dieticians and Nutritionists suggest a focus on whole, unprocessed foods as it can help your kids maintain stronger immune systems, have better moods and increase fitness levels.

If you can, cook ahead and meal prep to make things easier on school days. You can even get your kids involved in the process and plan fun picnic-style meals that they can mix and match. And lastly, as important as food and nutrition is, don’t forget to focus on hydration with frequent water breaks.

We’d love to hear your kiddos favorite recipes in the comments!

Tips and Tricks for Adapting to Distance Learning

By Ronda M., 3rd Grade TeacherHayden Homes Back to Home School Giveaway Collage

We know back to school planning looks different this year and that parents are in the middle of adjusting and preparing for a school year in which distance learning will very likely be part of the curriculum. We also know the uncertainty this brings.

Given that, we have teamed up with one of our own Hayden Homes homeowners who is a teacher to provide some tips & tricks to help you and your kiddos.

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

It is important that families, parents in particular, keep a growth mindset. There are bound to be frustrating times as there usually are when we learn something new. This is a great opportunity for parents to model how to navigate distance learning when it may be difficult. I encourage families to use phrases such as; “we can do this”, “it may take some time and effort”, “we aren’t there yet”, “let’s ask what other families are doing to be successful”, “education is important and we can learn this new approach”. Students will take cues from their families as to the kind of attitude they’ll have about distance learning and online instruction.

Create a Routine with Your Kiddos

Create a Routine

Routine is essential.  This is what helps classrooms run smoothly with the most efficient use of educational time. Most children learn to rely on routine, and it helps calm their brain so that learning can take place. Following the teacher’s academic timeframe and lessons is a good place to start.

Here are some routine suggestions and considerations:

  • Students focus best in the early mornings.
  • The attention span for most students is between 20 and 30 minutes. Therefore, it can be helpful to schedule 2-5 minute “brain breaks” into your day. You can ask your child what some of their favorites are from their classroom, or click here for a list of 50 Brain Break Ideas to help your student focus.
  • Establish a half hour lunch time each day.
  • Schedule a 15-minute morning and afternoon “recess” each day. Students should be ready to learn at the end of the 15 minutes. It is not recommended that the break is much longer than this, as it could break the rhythm of their school day.
  • Create an ending time for each day that you and your child can expect. At school, this time is generally around 3:30PM. This could look very different for families adjusting to new schedules. If daytime schoolwork is not completed due to inefficiencies, behavior or lack of effort, the days assignments can become homework. This could take place an hour after school gets out and an afternoon snack has been given.
  • Remain consistent and try to stick with the schedule you create.

Have Balanced Meals and Snacks

Balanced Meals & Snacks

It is important, even in a distance learning setting, to start the day with a protein based-healthy breakfast before beginning the day’s lessons. A healthy breakfast will give your kids the energy and brain power they need to stay active, keep up with the days routine and make it until lunch without hunger getting in the way. In addition, it is important to consider keeping breakfast, snacks and lunchtime away from their learning area. Check out these 28 Ideas for a High Protein Breakfast to help you stay creative in the kitchen.

Generate Excitement

Generate Excitement

Excitement for a new school year normally happens for students very naturally. They get to see their friends, meet a new teacher (in person), be a part of a new classroom, and they get to open their fresh new school supplies. Some families will even purchase back to school clothes or a first day of school outfit and schedule a new haircut to generate further excitement for that first day back. Why treat this year any different? Following back to school traditions, activities and hyping up the school year with conversation will continue to help prepare children for a positive experience.

Setup and Learning Station

Set up a Learning Station

Find a spot in your home where your child knows it’s theirs to learn, whether it be at the kitchen table, on the living room coffee table, a desk in their room or another room, a spot in the garage (provided it is a safe environment), at a kitchen bar, etc.  Wherever your child will be learning be sure it is tidy, consistent, and theirs.

Back to Home School Giveaway

Back to HOME School Giveaway

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!