5 Ways to Keep Your Child Engaged in At-Home Learning

If you feel like you just became your child’s substitute teacher and camp counselor all at once, you’re not alone. With kids around Connecticut staying home due to COVID-19 school closures, it’s up to parents and other caregivers to keep children engaged, excited and learning new things.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Ann Koenig, an education specialist at Connecticut Children’s, joins the blog to share keys to successful remote learning.

Make learning fun.

While the specific activities can vary, the goal is always the same: teach the material in an environment that is as engaging, fun and stress-free as possible, so students feel safe making mistakes.

To help your child feel excited about beginning their daily lessons, start with a motivator, story or game like Tic-Tac-Toe. Let your child choose the assignment they would like to complete first. Once you get the first assignment out of the way, take a short break or engage in a fun activity to let them reset and gear up for the next assignment.

When needed, establish a reward system to ensure they receive appropriate recognition for positive attitudes and completed work.

Structure is key.

Children of all ages need to understand that this extended break isn’t a series of snow days, but an important time to continue learning. Make a daily schedule with your child, post it for the family to see, and stick to it.

Get a sample schedule, plus specific tips for how to structure your child’s day.

Get creative!

Beyond completing any lessons that your child’s school district has provided, feel free to work in additional learning opportunities. Be creative! Some popular ideas:

  • Schedule time each day for independent reading. After your child finishes a book, challenge them to use what they learned for a related activity – for example, making a costume depicting their favorite character, or writing a short summary of the story.
  • Have your child research a topic of their choice and make a list of the facts they learn.
  • Have your child make a model out of clay, build a diorama or create another fun art project.
  • Children love to cook. Have your child choose a favorite recipe, make it together, and turn it into a math lesson. This activity can take place any time of day by making healthy snacks, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Children and adults of all ages love this one: Grab a magazine, cut out pictures and words that describe you, glue them onto a piece of cardboard and display them in your house.
  • Using a magazine, have young children cut out words that begin with a “letter of the day,” or make a list of items in your house that begin with that same letter.

Aim for one unique activity a day to keep your child from getting in a rut, and remember that not all learning involves traditional school subjects. Have your child help you with a project around the house, such as fixing a leaky faucet, washing dishes or folding laundry.

> Want help getting your family through COVID-19? Check out our School Closure Kit

Step outside.

Movement breaks are key to a productive learning environment. Weather permitting, have your child step outside to enjoy 30 minutes of physical activity several times a day. If the weather is poor, take an exercise break inside by dancing to music, practicing yoga or participating in an online exercise class. Try these 23 Indoor Activities for Heart-Healthy Kids.

Beyond movement breaks, a change of pace is always good for continued learning. Encourage your children to complete any online learning assignments inside, then go outside to either extend the lesson outdoors or learn something new.

Some examples for younger kids:

  • Read a book about clouds. Then go outside, lay on a blanket and look up at the sky. Have your child identify the shapes of any animals they see floating by in the clouds. Head back inside and glue cotton balls onto blue paper to illustrate what they saw.
  • Teach your child about pollution. Take a walk, bring a bag, wear gloves and pick up litter to do your part in cleaning up your environment.
  • Teach your child about noise pollution. Stand outside with a clipboard and a pen, listen for five minutes, and write down all of the sounds you hear. Talk with your child about what they observed.
  • Go outside, lay on a blanket and read your favorite books.

Stay positive.

With public schools in Connecticut closed through at least the end of March, you may have to lead your child through a great deal of learning. Be sure to take a deep breath and remain positive. There are endless opportunities to help your children stay engaged in the learning process!

Get strategies to stay calm and carry on during COVID-19.

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