Virtual learning tips during COVID

COVID-19 has turned our world upside-down. Which is why if you or your children are staying at home and learning virtually, it’s important to reduce the stress online learning can cause. Here are seven actionable tips for learning virtually during COVID-19.

Make a Learning Plan and Schedule

It’s important to plan out your (or your children’s) days ahead of time. That way, you can ensure you don’t just have all studying and no breaks. Studies show that adult attention spans typically wane after 15 to 20 minutes; children attention spans decrease even faster at 10 to 15 minutes. 

You will need to schedule meals, time away from the screen, and play or relaxation time to ensure that you or your children can learn.

Don't Take on Too Much

Just because your home doesn’t mean you have more time to take more classes or do more work. Although it’s tempting to take on new projects and new tasks, just the change of being at home all the time may cause added stress. Keep yourself and your kids organized and provide enough time to rest and do enjoyable things.

Everyone talks about multitasking, but the reality is multitasking is bad for learning. When you or your child is working on homework, they should focus on one subject at a time and work in a quiet and out of the way place. if you or they can’t stand silence, a white noise generator, classical, or easy listening music that is designed for studying, is a good choice. Keep the smartphone away and the TV off. Stay away from social media and other time wasters.

Limit Your Screen Time

Studies have shown that too much screen time can interfere with your sleep/wake cycles and provide a distraction for learning. Limit your screen time or your kids’ screen time, which includes computers, smartphones, and tablets. 

Don’t allow your children to have their smartphones and tablets until their coursework is complete. At the same time, if you’re the parent, reducing the amount of screen time will help with your parent-child interactions. In other words, put the phone away and pay attention to your kids.

If your children or your studies allow, use physical books and texts for reading, rather than read it on a screen. Print out lessons and work on them long hand before entering them into the computer. Although doing this “old school” may seem strange and harder, people use different parts of their brains when working with books. 

You and your kids won’t get the same benefits from reading online or even using an eReader.

Exercise and Play

Take time to exercise and/or play. The reason is that too much digital time can lead to obesity and health problems associated with it. Plus children need play and exercise to reduce anxiety, refresh their brains for learning, and become stronger. 

Schedule these times in and nix the TV and video games. Instead, go outside, take a walk, play, or just have fun. Weather not conducive to going outside? Provide hands on crafts, games, or puzzles.

Watch Videos and Use Interactive Apps

One of the stresses of learning from home is the lack of social contact. If you or your children can, watch videos of lectures to study, chat with classmates via Zoom or another meeting app, or even engage in chat with friends. 

Although you might not be able to visit grandma and grandpa, a Zoom meeting might be just the thing to stay in touch. Plan on regular meeting and get the necessary face time.

Your kids are likely to miss their friends and teachers. Try organizing an online meeting for your kids with their friends so they can stay in touch and talk about their day. Children, teens, and adults need to have interaction with people, even if it’s on the computer or smartphone. Maybe you can set aside times for your kids to just socialize with their friends online.

Spend Time with Your Family

If you’re a parent, chances are you’re working at home as much as your kids are learning at home. Despite all this, for yours and your kids’ mental health, plan on interacting with your children in a meaningful way. 

That means shutting off the videos and TV and actually relating to them in a positive way. Read a book to them, or have them read a book to you. Work on a craft both of you might be interested in. Talk to them and find out what they’re learning in school, and offer some perspective on it with your own experiences. 

More often than not, you both might have similar interests and your child may learn more about you and the world around them besides what’s on their smartphone or computer.

If the weather is conducive to being outdoors, taking a walk, riding bikes, or playing catch can be fun for you both, plus it gives you a needed break from the screen.

While it may seem odd to do things the old fashion way, interacting with your family gives you and them the needed relief from digital overload. You’ll all feel better when you do positive and constructive things as a family rather than feel lonely and apart from people.

Contact Your Teacher, Professor, or Your Child's Teacher

Just because you’re stuck in the virtual world doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be in contact with your instructor or (if you have kids) your children’s teacher. If you’re proactive and stay in contact, you can get help in areas you or your child is struggling with. 

Your teachers can help in a variety of ways through suggestions, ideas, and helping solve issues with technology or schoolwork. This way you or your kid won’t fall through the cracks when it comes to learning, and won’t fall behind because they are having problems grasping the material.

Lastly, realize you’re not alone when it comes to online learning and staying at home. We’re all in this together, but by following these tips, it can make online learning easier.