Whether you’re teaching virtually or in person, making the most of each learning moment is always the goal. Engaging children requires you to make many plans and decisions based on your teaching knowledge. Ideally, you help children meet individual needs while still reaching goals. With strong relationships as a foundation, clear expectations and consistency will help children listen, participate, and learn throughout your virtual learning experience.
Having clear goals and consistent routines is a strong place to start. Remember to adjust your expectations for the needs of each child—just as you would in person.
Break learning activities into small chunks and take frequent breaks.
Adapt expectations for seating and participation.
Teach children to use technical features, such as breakout rooms and muting.
Supportive learning routines and clear communication about the expectations for each session will create a predictable environment where children can thrive instead of wondering, wandering, or worrying.
Incorporate routines as you begin and end each session.
Use visual cues to help children focus on your clear learning goals and activities.
Teach children ways to ask for help and participate.
Using a variety of materials and methods in the virtual setting will help you engage children. Work toward a balance of predictability and novelty while regularly trying new facilitation strategies.
Encourage various ways of participating: speaking, gesturing, or drawing.
Include variety in learning (songs, chants, games).
Ensure all children have access to necessary materials.
Now that you’ve read some ways to maximize engagement in a virtual classroom, use this planning document to brainstorm how you will maximize engagement in your virtual classroom.
Live sessions with children are only part of providing virtual instruction. Some children and families may need additional support. Children may not be able to participate online because of barriers to accessing technology. Providing alternative ways for children to receive instruction, complete work, and connect with you will help ensure equitable opportunities for learning and assessment. Make sure to communicate your expectations to adult caregivers. Letting them share information about their child can help you offer alternatives that meet individual needs. As always, working in collaboration with families supports children’s success.
When Covid-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that Covid is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about Covid related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.
Young infants develop a unique relationship—known as attachment—with their caregivers. To develop secure bonds, infants need to know that at least one person really cares about them. Caregivers provide that comfort by helping infants regulate needs and emotions, such as hunger and sadness. With healthy attachments, infants develop a sense of safety and trust.
Infants need to be held, to have face-to-face interactions, to feel another human heartbeat. By meeting these needs, caregivers foster attachment. Plan how you will meet these essential needs—while keeping yourself and infants safe.
Children need to feel safe before they can explore their surroundings. While curiosity and exploration help awaken children’s talents, teachers help reinforce their learning through guidance and repetition. All children benefit from intentional interactions that inspire them through new experiences—and some children need additional or individualized support.
Given the natural need to be around others, children might have a hard time with social distancing. Organize materials in spaces where two friends can explore together. Make yourself available to facilitate their exploration while ensuring safety.
Toddlers reinforce their trust in caregivers while venturing into the world on their own. Along with stable relationships and independence, they need frequent reminders of behavioral expectations to keep themselves and their peers safe. With support and regulation, educators can help buffer the effects of stress or trauma and promote healthy child development.
Children learn best in a warm, safe environment. While positive interactions strengthen a classroom community, clear safety expectations promote healthiness. Remind children that these measures are in place because you care about them.