Funniest online teaching moment of young children during lockdown? Child disappearing mid-lesson only to hear “Dad, I need you to wipe me!” over the still connected sound. We can laugh at such online moments but on a more serious note, how many times have you got to the end of an online session feeling frustration over time wasted or lack of focus?
There are some simple steps that can be taken by both the teacher and the parents to ensure online lessons with young children run smoothly.
- Take a moment to connect with your student before work begins. Connections are more difficult via a screen, and are not automatic. Draw the student in by asking them about their day/week, relaying a funny anecdote or connecting over a shared experience (snow in London anyone?)
- If you have an expectation of materials being to hand, ensure you have communicated this with the parent in plenty of time before the lesson. Will the student need lined paper, coloured highlighters, a ruler, a printout of any text you are working through?
- Ask the student at the beginning of the session if they have their homework, materials, etc ready. Even if you have communicated to the parent ahead of time, check the materials are there and ready. It is better to have a disrupted start to the lesson than have to stop part way through.
- Allow preparation and transition time before a lesson begins. It is not fair or realistic to expect a young child who is pulled from the midst of an activity they are enjoying to be able to transition smoothly to an online lesson. Ensure they know the lesson is coming up and that they have time to finish what they are doing.
- Set up their work area with all of the materials the teacher has asked for and ensure there is space for them to work and see the computer/tablet at the same time.
- Ask them to use the toilet before the lesson begins!
- Have a workspace that is free from distractions (kitchens are not ideal!)
Remember that this is a two way relationship between you as the teacher and the family you are working with. Take some steps yourself, and ensure to help parents by communicating the ideas above to them. After all, both teacher and parent have the same aim – smooth running, focused lessons in which the child is able to progress!