Children of all ages have been forced to adjust to virtual or distance learning, and because of dedicated teachers and parents, they have managed very well. The live classroom sessions on platforms like Zoom or Google Meets have had to focus on getting children to re-engage and connect with peers, friends, and teachers they have not seen in a while.
How Do Teachers Encourage Engagement During Distance Learning?
Teachers know how vital it is that children develop positive feelings about learning from a very young age. They also realize that all children are individuals who experience a range of emotions and also have “good” and “bad” days. For preschools to stay safe during this pandemic, physical interaction has been limited, but teachers have found creative ways for children to interact virtually.
To encourage interaction and engagement, the teacher may:
- Have virtual classrooms with only a few children at a time. Teachers may mix and match the children in the “classroom” every week, that way children interact with each other in smaller, less intimidating groups. The teacher may put the whole group together on a specific day, but that may be a shorter session with a specific theme, or where they are read a story.
- Allow children a few minutes as the session starts to chat with each other. They may be shy at first, but will soon get used to the idea and enjoy having a few minutes of unstructured time with their friends.
- The teacher may ask questions and encourage the children to respond with a thumbs up or down. This helps the teacher gauge how the child is feeling, even if the child cannot verbalize their feelings.
- Teachers may also start the day with a theme song that encourages the children to dance, do actions, and sing along. This is a wonderful ice breaker and helps to focus the child’s attention on what is to follow.
Fun Distance Learning Activities
To keep usually active children’s attention and focus in the virtual classroom, teachers have had to think out of the box and get very creative. Activities have had to be age-appropriate, fun, and educational. Depending on the child’s age, some activities may need a parent or other adult’s assistance.
Some distance learning activities may be variations of some activities that children are familiar with like:
- Simon says – This is a game that helps to develop gross motor and listening skills. The teacher will give an instruction like: “Simon says put your hands on your head” and the children need to put their hands on their heads. If the instruction is not preceded by “Simon says” then it is not to be followed.
- Answering simple math problems by asking the class to answer the question using their fingers This is also a good exercise in fine motor skills. A variation could be asking them to use their left or right hand only, or if the answer is less than five, to still use both hands. Older children who can read and write could write their answers on a whiteboard.
- Colors and shapes can be taught with a scavenger hunt where children have to run and fetch something of a specific color or shape in a given time. They could also be taught to draw cartoon animals using shapes like round face, triangle ears, oval body. They could draw on their whiteboards under the teacher’s instruction and then have a virtual art show when they point their whiteboard to the camera.
- The teacher could give them a theme that they have to dress up for the next lesson. An example could be “grandparents’ day” where the children could dress up to look like their grandparents. The lesson could then be about grandparents and how they fit into the family dynamic or anything regarding the elderly.
- The alphabet can be taught by asking the child to fetch an item that starts with a specific letter, or for the older child, you can write the letter on a whiteboard and combine it with the number of items you need them to fetch.
- Show-and-tell is always a firm favorite with children. Apart from encouraging interaction and participation, the teacher can use every item displayed as a teaching opportunity. The teacher may choose a theme like:
- My favorite stuffed toy
- Something I found in my garden
- Modes of transportation (toy cars, boats, planes, bicycles)
- “Funday-Friday” can be a day that children look forward to all week. The teacher can ask children to wear a silly hat or silly socks or dress up as a book character or super-hero. Once they have had a chance to laugh or admire each other’s outfits, the teacher can then and read them a story. The rest of the day can involve singing songs or playing games with the focus on fun and laughter.
Parkland Children’s Academy Makes Distance Learning Fun
At Parkland Children Academy we believe in children’s physical, social, and emotional wellbeing, that is why our teachers have gone the extra mile to connect with each child and to ensure distance learning is both educational and fun.
Want to find out more about our distance learning program? Contact Parkland Children’s Academy Monday to Friday 7 am to 6 pm at 954-688-5877.