By: Sophie Gilbert, Penfield Children’s Center

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this school year looks different for families, and virtual learning has become the new normal. Whether you are a beginner or a pro at virtual learning, it can be difficult to teach several kids at the same time–especially if they are different ages.

Here are some tips on how to make things a bit easier at home with multiple children, from how to structure your virtual learning time, to keeping your kids energized and engaged in their learning.

  • Make a plan
    • You will need to have a general idea of what subjects the children are learning for the year. This framework will help you figure out some basic questions like:
      • What subjects or skills is each child learning? Do they overlap?
      • How are they being taught? Synchronous or asynchronous? Do their schedules align?
      • What materials and supplies will they need? Will each child need different tech/supplies, or can they share?
      • Can your wifi and/or tech withstand multiple children attending different online classes simultaneously?
  • Designate work areas
    • Organizing a learning space is important to ensuring continuity of learning now that the usual classrooms and routines are no longer in place. When siblings are working in close proximity, distractions are bound to emerge. It is important that each child has their own private workspace, equipped with comfortable seating, a laptop or other device, necessary school materials, and some form of desk or surface on which to work. If space is an issue, consider lap desks as an alternative to furniture desks.
  • Use headphones
    • Since many teachers are utilizing Zoom calls and other video tools to conduct teaching and learning, having your child use headphones is a good idea. Not only does it help the student concentrate more on their online material, but it also saves other family members the headache of trying to block out instructional videos and online lessons.
  • Arrange individual check-in times
    • Parents are busy! To avoid being stretched too thin, consider designating certain time(s) of the day for each child to check-in, seek help, review work, etc. Limit this assistance to a half-hour per child, depending on whether the child has a disability or additional learning needs. To help your children stick to the 30-minute check-in period, encourage them to write down or think about their questions beforehand and be prepared to ask how they need assistance.
  • Coordinate breaks and snack times
    • With multiple kids in the house, coordination is key to productive distance learning. Depending on each child’s age and learning needs, siblings may need more or less time for movement, screen-free learning, exercise, or “brain breaks”. Try to establish universal times throughout the day when children break from learning to keep motivation, focus and energy levels up and running. Having simultaneous break times ensures that kids aren’t being distracted by siblings during learning sessions.

How have you structured your child’s virtual learning plan?



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