Getting the Most out of Virtual Learning Sessions: A Guide

April 02, 2020

As an increasing number of schools announce their plans to remain closed for the duration of the school year, we are witnessing an unprecedented shift from in-person to virtual learning. Over 100,000 public and private schools have closed and 55 million students have been affected.

Obviously, teachers across the country recognize that (whether in-person or online), the burden of teaching falls on them and are doing backflips to ensure parents and students have the lesson plans, resources, and support they need to ride this out. Teachers are truly the MVPs here. Still, many parents are still struggling to figure out how to get the most out of virtual learning – especially those with children in younger grades.

With a little trial and error, a great deal of patience, and an extra dose of planning; you can nail this! Here are some tips.

Embrace a Digital Quarantine

While fancy sounding, this basically means nothing more than establishing a schedule when it comes to screen time. With lessons and activities now being conducted on a tablet or laptop, the line between screen time and academic time can easily become blurred – especially for younger kids who aren’t used to using their devices for school. The easiest way to mitigate this is to create a screen time routine and limit non-educational screen time to times that do not interfere with academics.

Nix Distractions

The easiest way to ensure your child gets the most out of this new normal is to create remote learning opportunities that are free from distraction. For NYC parents operating with less square footage than they would like, this can be a challenge. Sometimes, the reality of the situation is simply that there isn’t room for your child to have his or her own, distinct learning space. Don’t stress! Even if your child’s learning space is the middle of the kitchen, you can nix distractions with headphones. This way you’re sure your child isn’t struggling to tune out the noises of the house while focusing on the lesson at hand.

Keep Snack and Movement Opportunities at the Ready

Save everyone the headache of trying to compel kids to learn when they need a break or a snack by offering healthy snacks at regular intervals and finding fun ways to get their bodies moving during lessons. Need ideas? Try a fun scavenger hunt (you can adapt the theme to fit almost any lesson), spend some time doing dramatic play, try some yoga… anything that gets  them up and offers a “brain break.”

Video Chat with Abandon

Socialization is one of the most overlooked benefits of schooling. Making friendships, navigating disagreements, sharing life’s ups and downs… these are key elements in your child’s days at school. And, likely, are what your child is missing the most as these “shelter in place” days turn into months. Create a zoom meeting for your child and his closest friends. Suggest your older kids do a Facebook “Watch Party” for their favorite shows. Offer to facetime with friends and read a story to the entire crerw. While not the same as seeing their friends in person, kids will love the chance to connect socially on any level.


Yes, your child’s academics are important. Yes, they should participate in and focus on their lessons. Yes, it is your job to ensure learning takes place. But, let’s remember they’re children and fun is a hugely important part of their day. Imagine your kids 10 years from now, how will they remember this time? Chances are they won’t remember the specifics of the lessons they learned. What they’re remembering is the time they had at home with you. Make it as fun as possible. It’s good for you too!

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