How to help kids focus on video calls

With many children attending school in hybrid and distance learning settings this year, finding ways for kids to stay attentive and motivated is an even greater challenge than usual. Below, we’ll share some tips and strategies for keeping students engaged in class and excited to learn!

Prepare a workstation

Setting matters! Ensure a successful school day for your child by creating a space that’s inviting and free from distraction so that they can focus on learning. Locate an area that’s quiet and has good lighting. Remove distractions, like TVs, cellphones, and toys. If you’re tight on space at home, try cordoning off part of a larger room. 

Using headphones may also help minimize outside noise that could pull a child’s attention away from the lesson. Lastly, gather all the materials they might need for their lessons, such as crayons, paper, and water, so that they don’t have to leave their desk midway through class.
Print out this worksheet and hang it in your child’s workspace as a reminder of five steps for successful video calls.

Go over audio and video settings

Kids may be used to using computers and iPads for playing games or maybe even FaceTiming with Grandma, but they probably haven’t used it for school before. Talk to them about how to adjust settings on their computer so that technological issues don’t get in the way of them learning and participating in class. 

When they first join a Zoom call, show them how to test their speakers and microphone to make sure they can hear and be heard. Talk about adjusting the volume and how to make sure their headphones are set up, if they’re using those. 
For video, check in with the teacher about whether kids need to be on camera or not. If they do, and your child gets camera shy, show them how to turn off self view. (Once on a call, right-click your video, then choose the option ‘Hide Myself.’) If they do want to be on video, let your child add a virtual Zoom background to their screen to make their background fun and to keep them from watching anything happening behind them.

Set and maintain realistic expectations

If you are working remotely now or spend a lot of time on the computer, you know that staring at a screen for a long time can be exhausting, even for an adult. So be realistic with yourself and your kids about how the days will go. Schedule breaks in their day so they have time away from the computer to get a snack, play outside, or read a book offline. Your kids will still learn but they may miss their friends and they might not be able to manage as many hours of instruction each day as they would at school. Talk to your child about how distance or hybrid learning is going and work together to determine what schedule is best for your family.