The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine has brought with it hopes that the pandemic — and all the life changes it has caused — can start to fade away relatively soon.
But for now, the Spring semester is underway across the nation, and students, parents, and teachers continue to navigate eLearning environments. So, how can those environments be maximized?
While we’ve seen all sorts of helpful pointers over the last several months, we’ve asked Dr. Kate Shively, assistant professor of elementary education at Ball State University’s Teachers College, to compile a fresh list of eLearning tips and tricks for both students and parents to keep in mind now that the school calendar has flipped to 2021.
Body and posture
- Check your desk and chair height. Don’t sit on your bed for eLearning. According to Athletico: “Sit with feet flat on the floor and pick a stable surface to sit on. Adjust the height of your desk or table so the child can look straight ahead at the computer screen. You can use a stack of books to raise the height of the laptop. Try to have forearms, chin, and thighs all be in flat lines when sitting at your designated desk space.”
- Stretch — and encourage doing it throughout the day!
- Move Around. Incorporate plenty of opportunities for your students at home to move on a regular basis, even while sitting or standing at their desk/computer. Consider incorporating a cushion on their chair that allows them to shift or a standing mat for anti-fatigue.
- Utilize timers — on the stove/microwave, your watch, or the built-in timer on your computer/tablet/phone — to remind both parents and students that it’s time to take a little break.
- To avoid eye strain and screen fatigue, remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away to something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Breathing exercises: Here are some helpful relaxation exercises that can be done at home for students of all ages.
- Let natural light brighten the learning environment. This helps engage students in listening and learning. Try to avoid sitting in dark rooms.
- Create tech-free zones or times. While there is evidence that children connect on an emotional level with friends through their devices — and they should be given the proper amount of time to do so — the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests building in times for students without direct access to this technology. This would include possibly limiting exposure to devices one hour before bed and/or requiring students to charge their phones outside of their rooms at bedtime. Tech-free zones (family meals free from digital devices, scheduled family fun nights without electronics, etc.) can also be utilized.
- Post your family’s routine in a space where all can view and look forward to different parts of the day — and remember to designate time for school work and play. These routines that incorporate times to work and play reinforces positive, caring relationships, and energizes students and parents because they know what is expected and what they have to look forward to throughout the day! A students’ listed routines may include: school schedule and responsibilities; chores schedule and household roles (such as making dinner one time a week); athletics and exercise schedule; and breaks, play-time, resting, etc.
- Be aware of outside pressure and let it go! Working parents can feel a lot of pressure juggling their children’s eLearning responsibilities with the work they need to accomplish for their own careers, oftentimes blurring the lines between personal and work time. Keep trying to strike the balance that works best for you, your children, and your employer.
Try to incorporate these new eLearning tips and tricks above with some of these other more common pointers:
- Make a space
- Limit distractions
- Communicate with teachers
- Stick to a schedule
- Make time for breaks
- Take care of yourself
- Provide positive feedback
- Be flexible
- Stay in touch with friends