E-Learning is Great, But Make Time for Breaks
If you are at home with your children during the Coronavirus outbreak and navigating through the e-learning format, you will likely have some questions and feel a bit nervous as to whether you’re doing everything right.
For many students, teachers were amazingly able to roll out an online version of their daily school assignments in a relatively short amount of time. This is impressive… but we should also be aware that the sudden pressure to live out the school day attached to computer screens can have some unintended consequences. As much as today’s kids seem amenable to the online learning experience, they also may run into their share of challenges. Here’s how to navigate through that, keep kids learning, and retain your sanity in the process.
On the plus side, like all of us, kids really take to the computers. They generally do not seem to mind logging in and in fact appear enjoy typing, sending text messages, as well as creating and watching videos online. Of course, there are exceptions. But generally, the computer is seen as a positive thing by most students. This makes e-learning at home much easier to adapt to than would otherwise be the case.
The negative aspect of this is that it is known that computers are highly addicting. As much as your child likely enjoys excelling at computer math games and clicking through a series of questions and answers online, he or she is likely to become anxious, scattered and even emotional after too much time spent seated in one spot, looking at a computer screen.
The frustration, also, of making sure the technology is functioning correctly and that the student is able to follow links and type in passwords correctly to arrive at the correct remote location where their class is held or their assignments are stored, can also increase anxiety, both in students and in parents. When you’re already short on patience and wondering how you’ll manage to complete your own work, the struggle over computer use can be confounding to say the least.
Yet another source of difficulty comes from the student having to ask for help and then dealing with hovering parents who may want to take over control of the mouse, or vice versa. Two people sharing a computer trying to troubleshoot a technical problem often leads to higher levels of tension and frustration.
Below find a list of simple tips to remember as you and your family adapt to this new learning format during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Take a break from the computer every 35 minutes or so.
If your child is involved in an online meeting for school, you may go over this amount of time, which is understandable. In that case, give your children a break as soon as the opportunity comes. A good rule of thumb would be to let kids stand up, stretch, and move around a bit after logging off from their virtual learning station post-meeting.
Strive for good ergonomics.
We can’t always control how our children prefer to sit at their iPads, laptops or desktop computers. Being stuck in the house all day with nothing but virtual friends to connect with and virtual assignments to complete might have your child searching for the ideal spot and position to curl up in during screen time. However, it’s a good idea for each child in your household to have his or her own small desk or table where they can sit as comfortably as possible while typing and looking at the screen. Your children are growing at a rapid pace. For this reason it’s important to maintain correct posture when possible.
Give the eyes a rest.
As a result of increased computer use, more and more children are developing a condition called strabismus or lazy eye, where the eyes don’t focus in concert. This happens when the brain begins to favour vision in one eye over the other. Too much screen time can exacerbate the problem, and kids don’t have to be born with this condition to develop it. Additionally, your child may experience headaches, blurred vision and burning or tearing eyes as a result of too much computer use. It’s important to get up for breaks, rest the eyes, and focus on objects at different distances, throughout your day when working at a computer.
Make time for exercise.
Another side effect of too much time spent seated at a computer is muscle atrophy. Poor posture, low muscle tone, and lack of blood flow to the extremities are all side effects of remaining seated at a computer for most of the day. We see this in office workers, and with children becoming more attached to computers for school work, it’s now becoming a problem for them as well. You’ll be doing your kids a tremendous favor by providing them an exercise outlet that gets them away from the screen, moving their bodies and burning off energy.
Emotional regulation, too, can become an issue for pent-up kids who spend their days attached to computers, phones and video games. Again, the best thing you can give your kids to help survive the e-learning environment and channel stress in a positive way, is opportunities to get outside, run, play and move. If it’s raining, set up an indoor play space with exercise balls, light free weights, hula hoops and other fun activities to get them moving.