Our lives have changed so quickly these past few months with virtual learning. Technology has taken us to new places and is rapidly changing in order to keep up with day-to-day life. As we all navigate these changes, we face new challenges to learning. A lot of children are struggling to sit for virtual learning and a lot of educational professionals and parents are seeking new strategies to help children learn! Here are a few that might help:
1. Use a Visual Schedule for Virtual Learning
Use visuals so your child will know what the expectations are for learning. Put a picture of your child, the teacher and a greeting symbol for the first session. Make sure you check off the activity or put in the picture in the all done column when the activity is completed.
2. Start Sitting for a Short Amount of Time
Add to the visual schedule for each virtual session. Allow your child to sit or stand near the computer and just wave or greet their teacher. Then have your child pick a toy or game to hold up and share with the teacher for 30 seconds. Reinforce attending to the virtual session immediately with a highly preferred item or activity.
3. Slowly Increase Expectations for Virtual Learning
The next time your child needs to sit for virtual learning, slowly increase the amount of time and the demands placed. For example, have your child sit or stand to greet their teacher. Then, allow your child to pick a preferred item or game to play with the teacher for 2 minutes. Pairing and building rapport is crucial as we build trust and instructional control.
4. Build Momentum
Next, have your child pick two toys, items or games to share with their teacher during the session. Allow your child to play the game with the teacher for 5 minutes. If your child is able to play and attend to the activity for 5 minutes, reinforce with praise or a preferred activity.
5. Introduce Instructional Activities
Once your child pairs with the teacher and has built up momentum for virtual learning, introduce one or two instructional activities into the session. Use a visual for each activity and alternate between preferred and nonpreferred activities.
6. Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce!
Use positive praise, preferred items and activities to reinforce your child for sitting for virtual learning! Celebrate the small steps to success! It is important to reinforce behavior so we increase the likelihood your child will sit for virtual sessions in the future. We also want to build their confidence for learning and establish a rapport with the teacher even if the teacher knows your child. Virtual learning is brand new to everyone and we all continue to learn from each other each and every day!
Danielle Bendon, BCBA | Manalapan Center Supervisor
Danielle Bendon is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has been working with individuals with autism and developmental disabilities since 2014. She has an undergraduate degree in Education from West Chester University and a graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University. Danielle is also a certified NJ special education and elementary education teacher.