Virtual learning tips for parents: How to help your child succeed in online school

girl learning online with laptop

As things continue to shake out, it’s unclear when in-person learning as we once knew it will resume. Millions of students are still learning online, and millions of parents could use a hand with a school year unlike any other. 

Parents have questions, naturally. What do we do if our kids are tired of virtual learning? How can I help my child with remote school? How do you prevent online school burnout? 

These questions become much more pressing with the knowledge that virtual learning will be with us for the foreseeable future. We get it. Learning online can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be a daily battle! 

If you’re finding yourself in the middle of a “winter slump” with remote school, seeing your student’s motivation plummet, or just generally in need of guidance, we’ve put together a guide to surviving (and hopefully thriving) this uniquely challenging school year.

Here are some tips and tricks that parents can use to help their kids succeed in online school!

How to help kids learn virtually

Every child is different and will have varying needs in terms of academic and developmental support. Please bear in mind that these are not one-size fits all solutions, but rather useful starting points! 

1. Embrace Brain Breaks

Brain breaks can be a teacher’s best friend, and now a parent’s best friend too.

Brain breaks are a great way to reinvigorate your students’ energy, even if they have just a minute or two to spare. That’s the beauty of brain breaks; they are designed to be short, engaging activities that stimulate kids’ brains while still switching things up. 

A major part of the “slog” that is virtual learning is sustained periods of sitting in front of a screen, in the same environment, with little to no movement or interaction throughout the day. Developmentally, that is a tall order for kids and teens, if not an impossible task. 

Check out this guide for brain breaks at the elementary, middle, and high school level, and you’ll be well on your way to shaking up their virtual learning routine! 

2. Look for multi-level engagement

Pay attention to how your child participates and interacts with their learning material. Of course, this doesn’t mean hovering over them through an entire virtual school day; a frank conversation with your student and their teacher will get the information you’ll need here. 

It’s important to keep in mind that presenting information online isn’t new; the most important innovations lie in how students engage with it. 

Translation? I’d be willing to bet that under-participation or lack of engagement opportunity is at the root of many kids’ frustrations with remote school. Turning this around is a great place to start. 

Student engagement also means interacting with others. Real-time feedback, opportunities to collaborate, and/or space for your student to safely connect with peers are particularly valuable. If that’s already part of your child’s learning routine, awesome! If not, talk to them (and consider reaching out to their teacher) about options for making it happen. 

3. Adjust at-home learning routines

By now, you’ve probably heard all about how important daily routines are to making online learning successful. Of course, you don’t want to throw your carefully-honed schedule out the window. A bad routine, however, can be worse than no routine at all. 

Take the time to find the right fit for your student with the options and degree of flexibility you have. Often, the easiest time frame to make that adjustment is after the school day is over, especially in synchronous online learning. Strong after-school routines can make as much of a positive impact as solid routines during the day.

4. Personalize prizes

Online, it’s easy to feel anonymous or stuck with one-size-fits-all information. The best e-learning tools deliver content that’s at your student’s level, designed with them in mind. It’s worth the extra time to sift through what might be too easy or too difficult to find the perfect fit.

To find the appropriate challenge, check out programs with video components, a diagnostic assessment, or other access to professional guidance. 

Now is also a great time to encourage your student to explore topics they’re passionate about (and yes, every student has a passion). Maybe that’s something academic, a particular period of history or application of science. Or maybe that’s something that might not fit into a typical school day, but you know your child will be excited to learn. 

5. Build a Learning Network

We all get by with a little help from our friends, right? 

In these crazy times, everybody needs a support system of folks who are dealing with similar challenges. Students are no exception to this golden rule. Talk with your student about the possibility of a virtual study group—I advise patience with this, and to expect an eye roll or two at first from teens. 

But that’s part of making a change, and I’m sure we can all relate to being reluctant to ask for help sometimes. If you think your child would benefit from this, ask them to talk with a friend or two who might be willing to Zoom once a week and see how it goes. 

Hopefully your child will reap academic benefits from this, but there’s something to be said for some extra social time too. We can only imagine how the lack of playgrounds, hang out sessions, and daily contact with friends has been for kids.

We’re here to help

At iD Tech, we want to help kids not only survive but thrive in the online learning world. 

Whether you’re on the lookout for a great tutor or sifting through dozens of options for after-school programs, we are here to support kids and their families. Check our 12-Week Semesters, Online Private Lessons, and math tutoring options to learn more! 

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.