Tips for Successful Distance Learning

Provide a good meal prior to beginning school tasks. If you’re having trouble affording nutritious food be sure to make use of community resources such as the food bank (406-586-7600).

Designate a specific workspace if possible and show your child that this is where they will do their schoolwork. It may be difficult to find a place to designate for school within your existing space. Maybe designating a space means that when breakfast is done, you slide the dining table against a wall where it becomes your child’s desk. This provides a visible cue that breakfast is over and school has started.

Set your child up for success with appropriate seating. Good positioning provides support so that your child can write (and perform other fine motor tasks) without relying on other muscle groups for stabilization, which leads to fatigue and decreases precision. Your child’s feet should be able to rest on the floor, with knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. If your child’s feet don’t reach the ground, look around your house to see if there is something you can place under their feet. Can you use an ottoman, box, or old phone books?

Set clear expectations. Use a visual schedule with pictures or words to help your child know what is expected and when. Consider a format that allows your child to cross off or remove the tasks they have completed so they can see their progress. Stick to a set schedule when possible.

Give your child control when possible. A simple way to do this is by providing two choices that are acceptable to you. For example, you might let them choose whether to do Math or English first.

Provide frequent movement breaks throughout the day. Allow your child to move between tasks, either free movement or guided. See the linked worksheet to “Roll a Brain Break”. Incorporate heavy work when possible to increase concentration. Heavy work includes things like frog jumps, wheel-barrow walks, and lifting heavy books—anything that provides significant input to the joints.

Don’t forget about recess! Make a set time for unstructured play during the day.

General tips for increasing focus and alertness: 

  • Eating crunchy snacks like carrots or celery
  • Chewing gum
  • Drinking cold water through a straw
  • When the child is not writing offer an alternative to sitting in a chair, like standing to listen to a lecture, or sitting in a bean bag to read.
  • Offer headphones or earplugs if there is distracting noise in your household, like a sibling doing a video lesson nearby, or a dishwasher running near the work area.
  • Create dividers between siblings if needed. These can be as basic or creative as you want. There are tons of ideas on the internet.
  • Did I mention chances to move?!?

Consider making a “hall pass” that your child can use 1x per day, 1x per week, or whatever you decide to take an unscheduled break of a predetermined length. We all need a break sometimes.

Keep calm. Give your child simple strategies to regain composure when they are stressed. See linked worksheets for “Take 5 Breathing” and “Slow Down & Calm Down.”

Promote good sleep. Even if your child won’t be leaving the house, remember to treat bedtime as if it were a regular school night.