A boy engaging with his online Chinese class

Ways To Help Your Active Child Focus During Online Learning

This article is a response to parents’ concerns voiced during a recent webinar we were invited to speak at (about the child not being able to sit still for an online class).

If you ask some students what their experience has been with virtual classrooms, or whether they feel engaged while learning online, chances are you will hear issues that students face on concentrating in online classes. Parents have difficulty helping their children stay engaged during online classes. The struggle is real.

This is normal, as a child should be active. Young children especially, are full of energy and eager to absorb new things. These are ingredients that make an effective learning experience if properly managed. However, in traditional classrooms, the children are expected to be quiet and orderly so that the class could go on. Even when these classes are moved online as part of the home-based learning arrangement, the children are expected to be quiet and orderly. It is only normal that you would see them feeling restless in such a learning situation.

So what ways can help your active child focus during online learning?

Lessons should not be too long or too short: Find the sweet spot between learning efficiency and attention spans

Online lessons should not be too long or too short

During online lessons, your child is bound to fidget if the lesson is too long. Each of our lessons is capped at a maximum of 55 minutes. This is shorter than the 2-hour duration common in traditional classrooms and just slightly longer than the back-to-back 45-minute classes at school.

Our pre-school foundation programme (for learners aged 4 to 7) is capped to 25 minutes each lesson. This is to cater to the shorter attention span of our younger learners. Our learners experience a variation of activity even within the same lesson. This means that instead of focusing on their screens for the entire duration of the lesson, our learners get the chance to dance, sing, stand up, role-play etc. Essentially, we incorporate movement into our lessons to offer learners opportunities to engage in learning while participating in activity and movement that doesn’t require them to remain fixated on their screens. These simple mobility actions do more than break monotony: they take care of our learners’ eyesight and seating posture, with a powerful side benefit of an overall mood-booster while learning Chinese.

We aim for sweet spots that lead to high learning efficiency when determining the lesson duration.

It is not too long so that there are no wasted minutes where students are disengaged and drained, and it is also not too short so that the knowledge could be imparted to the maximum of the learners’ attention span.

Create smaller class sizes: Individual attention helps learners stay focused

A boy concentrates on his 1-to-4 online Chinese class

Our classes are either 1-to-1 or 1-to-4. The small size allows for the flexibility in the teaching method based on the learning style. And our teachers are trained to identify and cater to a learner’s needs. For instance, if your child thrives on interactive learning, our teacher could use that to their learning advantage by raising questions throughout the lesson for them to answer. Instead of sitting silently throughout a two-hour lecture, your child now has the chance to actively engage with what he or she learns.

Young learners are full of curiosity and are eager to absorb new knowledge. A disengaged learner is not necessarily one who does not want to learn. Many times, it is because their learning environment falls short in meeting their learning needs.

Use multimedia strategically: Boost knowledge absorption and retention during online classes

Using multimedia strategically helps children stay focused in their online classes

Our in-house learning platform is equipped to engage our young learners’ visual, auditory, and reading/writing learning styles. This is to allow them to engage with the lessons in more than one way.

Instead of worksheets (generally used in traditional classrooms), our learners are engaged in the course materials with the help of strategic use of multimedia on the platform. Our teachers (with past

experience teaching in traditional classrooms) have observed that our learners find learning Chinese more engaging, and less intimidating, with the help of pictures, animations, videos, games on the platform.

Our learning platform also caters to learners who learn by way of reading and writing. A learner could use the Small Pencil (小画笔) to circle an answer or write a character they have just learned on Small Whiteboard (小白板), another built-in tool on the platform. Our learners enjoy using these tools because they allow them to be more participative in the learning process. And teachers could also have a better view of their learning progress.

Integrate new teaching methods and update course materials: Create relevant, engaging lessons

Deliver engaging online lessons through new teaching methods and updated course materials

Our course materials are laser-focused on addressing our learners’ needs. We do not merely go through the technical knowledge and expect them to write in Chinese and speak in Mandarin well.

For instance, in our writing lessons, we first identify whether our learners are in the stage of “do not know what to write” or “do not know how to write”. Most children have the issue of “do not know what to write”. The lessons for them include Picture Discussion, recognition and writing of words, and article reading. These are to equip them to circumvent the “do not know what to write” barrier.

Each lesson has undergone a painstaking research and testing process before it reaches our learner. More precisely, each lesson takes over 100 hours from curriculum creation to the actual courseware and followed by 30 hours of mock teaching and teacher training. Plus, all teaching materials need to pass through quality control (QC) rounds at our research centres based in Beijing (specialists from Peking University, Tsinghua University and more) and Singapore (specialists from NUS, NTU, NYU and more). Even after being launched, our course materials are constantly assessed and updated to integrate the latest teaching methods and research findings.

The real solution to helping your active child focus during online learning classes, is in designing and adapting the learning program according to the learners’ need for engagement.

It is precisely with engagement in mind that we created our online learning programs (class size, platform, course materials and lesson duration). Our learning programs allow children to learn at their own pace and at their proficiency level, and have focused teacher attention for them to seek clarity in real-time.

At LingoAce, we don’t force a dry Chinese language curriculum on learners. Instead, we work around the natural behaviour of children to help them attain knowledge in Chinese language. Knowing that children are eager to learn new things and explore the world around them, the question is how well we as educators turn their learning styles to their advantage.

If you’re interested in trying out a LingoAce lesson for your active child, you can sign up for a free Chinese language trial lesson here.

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