It seems that young kids will need to continue learning remotely for at least some more months in 2021. Here, Tara Eddy, a licensed educational psychologist, CEO of Feelings in Motion and creator of Stomp it Out, gives us some tips to help our homeschooled kids survive the remainder of online learning.

Tara Eddy

Young kids respond consistently well to two things: fun and connection.

If your child isn’t doing what you want them to do, it may very well be because they are bored, or they need a few minutes with you

When kids are bored, the threat of future consequences won’t help them to pay attention. In fact, threats and consequences will cause more meltdowns. That is because, they don’t see into the future with goal directed behavior like adults. They want to play. To get kids to do their work more easily, they have to enjoy doing it more.

Start by adding fun

stomp it out

Find a way to make their online schooling assignment more silly or playful. For older kids, tie in their interest areas to make it more fun.

For younger kids, if they don’t want to break down a writing assignment, find a ridiculously large pencil or pen for them to use. If doing a science video, recreate the actual experiment at home. If they’re doing math, bring in some fun manipulatives (objects) from your house, such as toy cars, pom poms, stuffed animals, etc. This will make the work more tangible.

For the much younger ones, they might even have one of their stuffed animal friends help them come up with the answers to questions by sitting near by. Kids aren’t meant to look like small business people on computers all day and an injection of fun can do a lot of good

When your child wants you to do their work for them: do it absolutely terribly, really exaggerate. Make stupid mistakes. They’ll find it hilarious, they’ll correct you, and do the work themselves. They’ll quickly show you what they can do and will probably do it smiling.

If adding a bit of fun and playfulness doesn’t improve their motivation, here are a few other ideas:

• Make sure they aren’t hungry: a lot of behavior can be quickly resolved by meeting basic needs that kids don’t describe well.

• Give your child a movement break: kids need much more movement than adults. They’ll focus better when they receive it. Have a dance party to their favorite song, run around outside, do a 5-item scavenger hunt in their room (see how fast they can find 5 blue items), or do a race from one end of your living room to the next.

• Make sure they actually know how to do what they are being asked to do.

• Emotional Check-in: ask them how they’re feeling. They may be frustrated about something being difficult or length, or may need a little help with something they don’t understand. When kids are stressed they often don’t have the words to tell us, so they behave in ways parents tend not to like. Ask and find out more.

For reference, average attention spans are approximately:

• 2 years old: 4-6 minutes

• 4 years old: 8-12 minutes

• 6 years old: 12-18 minutes

• 8 years old: 16-24 minutes

• 10 years old: 20-30 minutes

• 12 years old: 24-36 minutes

• 14 years old: 28-42 minutes

• 16 years old: 32-48 minutes

You can find more about Confidence, Productivity, and Happiness in our Magazine.

Download the Mindshine App (iOS or Android) and check our personalized goal plans that give you the tools you will need to stimulate and maintain motivation.