How To Keep Children Engaged During Online Sessions?
Sometimes life can throw curveballs right out of nowhere. COVID-19 has been the largest curveball of our time, especially for students and their teachers.
As a teacher, or someone who engages with children for educational or professional purposes, you have probably found yourself working from home and figuring out how to run proper sessions/classes with children through the internet. It hasn’t been the easiest transition for teachers, and educators have one of the most important jobs of all to fulfill – not only during lockdowns – but every regular day as well.
In order to support you, we’ve done our research and come up with helpful tips and advice on how to keep children engaged during online sessions when students may be struggling with learning from home. Keep reading!
- Explain how to use virtual tools
If you want to use virtual tools (such as screen-sharing, online activities, etc) take time to explain them to your students, so they feel confident with using them.
- Dense texts are challenging to read on a screen
When screen sharing, don’t use long, dense texts as they will rarely be read!
- Smaller classes = better engagement and more personalized education.
If it is possible to split your one hour class to two half-hour sessions with half the class in each, you may find that you can get more out of each child in that half-hour session than when you have them all in a one hour session.
This works even better if you have children who have a problem with keeping their concentration up for long periods at a time.
Connection with the kids:
- Silence doesn’t translate well virtually
It provides the perfect excuse for a child’s attention to drift elsewhere! You will have to be a full-fledged entertainer during your class!
- Use their names throughout the sessions
- Follow up on previous sessions
This lets the children know that you’re on top of what they’re working on (and that they should be too!)
- Give regular feedback on their progress
- Incorporate their interests
Find out your student’s interests and include where possible.
Moral & Psychological Tips:
- Stressful environment
The resources a child has at home depends on the background of the child you are working with. Some children may be sharing a PC with others in their family. We are also not only talking about electronic resources! Some children may be living in a noisy household, one with disregard for the importance of their online sessions, and may be living in an abusive situation that they are currently having to study within. It is important, as an educator, to keep all those possibilities in mind to be able to teach our students with grace.
- In the first few sessions they may not be talkative at all
Mentally prepare for that. We must be making most of the effort ourselves and remain interactive. With time, they will trust the process.
- If the child goes silent, there are probably reasons that have nothing to do with you
It is because they are probably scared or fearful of failure, disappointment, not knowing the right answer, and so on.
- Facial expressions and tone of voice
It is going to be much more motivating for them if you look and sound engaged and interested in what they are saying (even if it requires plenty of patience from your end!). Beware of having a one-note lesson: don’t forget to mix up the tempo of your session.
- Make sure the children have to say something during each session
This ensures that you keep the children alert because it may be their turn to speak next!
- Aim to be a positive, encouraging presence and present your best (online) self!
This goes without saying, but always be sure to present your best (online) self! Meaning not only should you look presentable, but the location you’re in should too.
Final pieces of advice:
- Take breaks to chat
- Bring fun into the session: Kids learn better when things are light and enjoyable. Being fun also fosters a better connection between you and your student.
- Get their opinion!
- Give them choices: Do you want to look at how come rabbits are so fast or do you first want to cover how lions hunt?
And finally, remember that these are trying times! It’s okay if not every session was completed properly or if some time from the session was used to bond. Us and our kids are human and a small digression could be a good thing at times.
Best of luck from the CodeBrave team!
If you’re looking for inspiring ways to keep children engaged during online sessions, check out our coding and robotics online tutorials!