Online schooling can be an adjustment at any age, but for young students who need a lot of hands-on help, it can be particularly tricky. You want students to learn independence, but they also need help staying on task. Here are a few tips to know when you are doing online learning in Kindergarten, or helping any young student new to online learning.
Manipulatives are items that students can touch, play with, and otherwise use primarily in math. These are very useful to have handy when teaching math concepts, as well as to visualize stories and order of events. While many stores will try to sell you fancy plastic or wood “math manipulatives,” they can really be just about anything. You can use beans, beads, coins, legos, or anything else that you probably already have around the house!
Lots of Breaks
If you’ve ever spent more than an hour with a five-year-old, you know that focus is often in short supply. Developmentally, this is completely normal. However, it can drive parents and teachers a little crazy when you have a lot of work that needs to get done! Kindergarten teachers usually become pros at noticing when their students need to get the wiggles out, but a good rule to follow if you are learning at home is to take breaks every 20-30 minutes. This may seem like a lot, but students will usually come back refreshed and more focused, having had time to process some of what they just learned. Breaks should only be a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom, get a quick snack, and most importantly, move around.
Learn in lots of different ways
One of the benefits of learning at home is the flexibility for families and all the different options students have when it comes to how they learn. All students, but young ones, in particular, can benefit from the practical application of the skills they are working on and hands-on experiences. For Kindergarten or young students, this might mean practicing their handwriting and phonics by helping write the family’s shopping list. They can practice counting and simple addition using the items in the trolley. Then, language skills and following directions if they help to make dinner later. Kids often won’t even notice they are learning if they are also having fun. There are learning opportunities everywhere!
Prepare your day before your student starts working
The younger the student, the more involved the learning coach. Kindergarteners are still learning how to navigate a computer and many can’t read yet, so they need someone to guide them through their tasks. This will be a lot easier for you as a learning coach if you’ve oriented yourself to the lessons and know what you will be working on the day before. You will be able to guide your student smoothly through their work and have less downtime, which will help them stay engaged. For programs offered through accredited online schools, such as iCademy Middle East, this process is easy because the lessons are planned out at the beginning of the school year. Plus, you have online teachers available to give help and live lessons each week! This is an excellent way to organize your at-home learning and make it easier for you and your student.
Set a predictable schedule that you follow as often as possible
The flexibility of learning at home is a good thing. However, like all good things, it is possible to have too much. When you are learning at home, try to set a daily and weekly schedule that you feel confident you will be able to stick to the majority of the time. At iCademy Middle East, our courses are all organized with flexible due dates, pacing guides, and separate modules to help students and families work through their lessons at a comfortable pace.
Encourage independence and self-agency
Include your student in the planning. Ask them what they think is important to have a good school year, and what they feel they need to have fun while learning. Some things might not be realistic (they are five-year-olds after all), but incorporate their input where you can. Have your student help set up their learning area however they like. If they are excited to go to their study space that they helped set up, they will be more excited to learn!
*iCademy Middle East is an American curriculum online school that provides a comprehensive education to students based in the UAE and around the world. We are NEASC and KHDA accredited, and provide individualized learning and instruction from grades K through 12.