How to Engage Students When Learning Remotely

3 min to read
Connections Academy student working remotely.

Being your student’s Learning Coach—the person at home responsible for keeping kids enrolled in virtual school programs accountable for completing their schoolwork—isn't always easy, especially for beginners. And while being a Learning Coach does not come with the same responsibility as homeschooling, where you’re teaching your child at home, families who have chosen online learning for their children can face similar challenges when it comes to engaging their students in an at-home learning environment. Explore expert tips from our Connections Academy educators and Learning Coaches for engaging students in a virtual school environment.

1. Maintain the Learning Space

Learning at home doesn’t have to exactly mimic a brick-and-mortar classroom. Taking online classes from home allows students to customize their learning environment. Have your learner help you set up their dedicated school area. 

Ensure your student’s school supplies are nearby and easily accessible. If they have to take the time to find necessary equipment, they’ll be pulled out of their learning and distracted. 

Encourage your student to leverage different areas for different subjects or activities. For example, it might be beneficial for your learner to complete course reading out on the patio and watching LiveLessons at their desk, where they can take notes.

2. Explore Topics More Deeply Deeper

Leverage virtual resources like articles, videos, or podcasts to extend in-class learning in a “flipped classroom” model. A flipped classroom can help make topics more engaging because  students first spend time researching on their own and teaching themselves more about the topic at hand  before coming together with the rest of their class to discuss it further. For example, students could listen to a podcast on the Industrial Revolution, then engage in a peer debate representing opposing sides of an argument.representing opposing sides of an argument.

3. Encourage Student Collaboration

For students’ classes that include opportunities for them to respond to questions in a discussion board format, encourage them to collaborate and share ideas with their peers. By reading and commenting on one another’s work, they can be exposed to different perspectives on the topic, explore why they have come to the conclusions that they have, and can feel more connected to the information.

For example: A discussion about a reading assignment could spark a discussion between students about what the author was trying to say.

4. Create Opportunities for Independent Learning

Allowing your learner to make small decisions about their learning fosters greater engagement because they feel empowered to take their education into their own hands. Encourage your student make learning-related choices, such as: 

  • How they schedule classes for the day

  • The order in which they approach coursework

  • Where to take their classes. Do they want to use a different desk for music or art lessons than they use for math or social studies? 

5. Incorporate Hands-on Learning

Consider the types of projects students can complete in their homes or within their communities that could enhance what they are learning about. For example, environmental studies students could explore how their local zoo handles wildlife conservation. Or a student learning about physics could create their own Rube Goldberg machine.

6. Encourage Balance

As a Learning Coach, it’s critical to encourage a healthy split between life at home and schoolwork. When families first start at-home learning for their student, it can be challenging to strike a healthy balance and not fall into distractions. 

Just like in school, your student needs breaks throughout the day to eat, recharge, and be active. Conversely, they also need periods of focus to study, do homework, and complete tests.

While creating a schedule can be helpful to block off the time needed to keep a balanced day, it is your job as their Learning Coach to hold them accountable to that schedule. That means making sure they are not playing games or texting friends when they should be watching their LiveLessons. That means making sure breaks are frequent enough to prevent burnout, but not so long students lose focus. Work with your student to see what balance works best.

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