For many parents, distance learning using Zoom has become unavoidable for one reason or the other. Few have no qualms about the challenges associated with Zoom learning, particularly in place of an education altogether, but there are a few elements of an effective remote session that parents can work with teachers to help facilitate.

  1. Keep Calls Short: Particularly important for the younger grade levels, the attention span for an on screen exercise is even shorter than it is for an in person exercise by about 50%. So take your child’s average attention span and divide by two to see how long their mind will actually be locked in to a particular lesson. The school that my daughter attends allows you pick and choose classes as needed and leave the calls when you would like. If your school offers that flexibility, consider strategically arranging their sessions and the lengths to avoid burnout.
  2. Simplify Instructions: The directions for activities can often get muddled online, having to cross the barrier of the screen to get to the child. It’s even more important that those directions are simple. Additionally, if a child is confused, they are less likely to ask the instructor for clarification online, nervous to interrupt. Check with your child to make sure they are clear on what to do in their classes. Ask them in a non-confrontational way to explain it before taking “yes” as an answer.
  3. Check in Often: Especially in a large group setting, students can blend into the woodwork online. With mute and camera blocking features on online meeting software, it is easy for them to take a much more… passive approach to their education than they would in the classroom. Without being too nosey, subtly check in with them, especially in longer classes to make sure they are still reasonably alert. If they seem lethargic, offer them a snack or a drink!
  4. Let Students Socialize: Learning in a classroom setting is meant to be a social exercise. Bouncing thoughts off of others and collaboration, yes, but also the organic experience of being with others, the subtleties of side comments, and the minor motivations of life in the corner. The value of these can get lost in an online meeting, but having an active text chain with others in the class or encouraging a zoom chat on the side are good ways to regain this lost nuance. This may sound ironic, but encourage them to engage in side conversation.
  5. Wind Down: It’s often a good idea to allow students, especially younger ones, to wind down after an online meeting. This can take the form of some doodling in their room with some relaxing 432 hz music going, or some very light reading. A lot of emotions are stirred up in seeing their friends and teachers in such limited ways that need to detangle after an online meeting.