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  • Tilda Dodson and Emily Roe, D.O.T.S. OT's

Maximising online learning during lockdowns

Managing screen time, encouraging home learning and working with our own kids is challenging at the best of times, let alone throwing in an extended lock down and our whole lives have moved online. As parents and adults I know some of us are struggling with our own lives being online, so we can only imagine how challenging it is for the littler ones around us.




Movement is your best friend 


During this tricky time, you may find the kids feeling more restless and having trouble staying focussed during learning tasks in their familiar home environment. By providing regular opportunities to get up from their chairs and move around, in between learning tasks will help increase focus and there is research to back this up. It assists with concentration and attention for learning activities.


Activity ideas you can use for these breaks include:

  1. Animal walks

  2. Making an obstacle course with your kids

  3. Cosmic kids

  4. P.E with Joe

  5. Gardening


Don’t be afraid for some screen time


This is not the time to be feeling guilty about some extra screen time for your child. There is a difference however between turning on movie after movie and giving structured screen time with educational learning behind them. There is nothing wrong with some movie time but it's also important to utilise screen time for learning too if the hours in front of the screen are adding up.  


Some of the below apps and websites provide some great fun and educational learning opportunities for your child while they are online. 

  1. Dexterity Junior

  2. Reading eggs

  3. Jigsaw planet

  4. Touch and write, Australian Cursive

  5. Common sense media - apps for kids with special needs has 100's of great app recommendations too

  6. using a stylus (pen for screens) helps with tripod grasp rather than using their finger tip.




Fresh air helps keep a fresh mind


Spending time outside is shown to increase attention and reduce distraction for kids, so is great to incorporate into the day when spending longer periods of time indoors for online learning. Spending time outside can help to improve mood. This can be tricky, particularly if there isn’t much of an outdoor space to use. But there are lots of ways to get the kids outside, even for short periods of time.


Here are some ideas to use in your hour exercise, increasing to two today!:

  1. Create a search and find map that includes finding for example, a yellow leaf, two dandelions, a stop sign, 3 green fences, two trees with no leaves, snail trails, anything you can think of that the children can tick off on a list as they walk around your suburb.

  2. Create a hopscotch out the front of your house

  3. Draw a chalk obstacle course on the footpath

  4. read a book in your yard or take any of their learning outside

  5. create mini races e.g. how fast can you run between this light pole and the next, now can you beat your time? How far can you hop on one leg? now try the other leg

  6. Play eye spy as you walk the streets. For younger children you can use colours e.g. I spy with my little eye something that has orange on it rather than saying starts with "a".


Your setup is what sets you up for success


Setting up an environment that your child can associate with their learning is important. Ensuring that distractions are reduced, lighting is good and their table/seat set up is appropriate for their height is important. If your child can become distracted easily in their home environment, this setup will ensure that they have the best opportunity to learn while at home. The best way to orientate the desk is to have your child facing a blank wall instead of into an open room or out a window where a bird flying past might grab their attention.


Some other alternatives to the traditional classroom seating arrangement could be including a hokki stool or a stability cushion. Please talk to your D.O.T.S. OT about what would best suit your Childs needs and they can let you know the pros and cons of each item specific for your families needs.




Routine


Keeping your learning routine consistent each day will help to support your child to feel the structure of a typical school day. Try to keep timing of the school start and finish consistent, this might be very different to a typical day but keeping day to day consistency for home learning, as well as similar times for breaks each day. It may also help to prepare a schedule that the children can refer to during the day to follow along with. For younger children this can be made up of visuals. When things don’t go to plan - and sometimes they don’t - know that it’s ok too. We are all learning a new way of life currently and its been a long steep learning curve for all of us. Particularly those who have children with some extra special needs.


We wish you all the best through the rest of home learning. We are here to support you at this time, please get in touch with your D.O.T.S. OT if you need some additional information on what might work for your child. We'd love to help even more.



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