We’re months into what feels like our new normal, and routines for parents have been altered tremendously. Arguably one of the biggest shifts? Learning from home. As we adapt to a world of virtual learning, we’ve found that some families have had smoother experiences than others when it comes to incorporating online classes into their daily lives. 

The team at Sawyer spoke with parents to hear their thoughts about virtual learning, and we quickly learned that each family has had a different experience. Some spoke about the difficulty of keeping their children focused, while others love the ease and the ability to break up the day with different learning activities.

Regardless of your experience thus far, we want to help! We spoke with the parents in our office and put together a list of steps you can take to make both you and your child more comfortable with online classes.

1. Start with a schedule.

With classes available from hundreds of providers all hours of the day on Sawyer, it’s not a matter of having enough options, but rather what options and times are best for you and your family? Finding the right virtual classes is a lot like finding the right puzzle piece — where do they fit into your schedule? Some things that to consider are:

  • How are your little one’s moods throughout the day? If they’re a bit more active or energetic in the morning, maybe a class to get them moving is best, if they like singing-along or maybe in a wind-down mood, try some storytime options
  • When do you need time? Maybe you’re looking to finish up some work or put together lunch? Explore classes at all hours of the day to help ensure you can be productive, too!
"Virtual classes break up the day and give my children another avenue of learning besides me." — Amy, M.

2. Comfort is key. 

We can’t stress this one enough! Making sure your child is comfortable in their class is crucial. When speaking with parents, a prominent note we heard was that their children were having difficulties getting through an entire class. Attention spans can be short, so if your little ones aren’t comfortable it’s going to be tough to complete a class. Some things to consider are:

  • To limit messes and interruptions, it’s best to take 30 seconds to clear off a working area for your child before they join a class. It’s always better to cook in a clean kitchen, right? The same applies here!
  • A comfortable seat can make or break an online class (especially for a toddler!). Make sure your little one is in a good seat if you’re hoping they get through the whole class.
  • Snacks and toys. Snacks and toys. Get your children’s favorites around them. 

Sometimes it’s best to think of an online class as a road trip. If you don’t keep your children comfortable, packed with ample snacks, supplies, etc — there’s no chance you’re making it more than an hour without stopping. 

3. Facetime with a friend! 

One of our favorite things about virtual learning is that your little ones have the chance to access classes they may not normally have the opportunity to take. Jumping in a class that could be based in California when you’re in New York is totally fair game! But it does mean your children may see some new faces. To get comfortable with the shift, our little ones have been taking new classes with their friends. 

Five to ten minutes before class we’ll set up a facetime between them. Chit chatting with a buddy beforehand is a great warm-up. Then, when class starts, they’ll see a familiar face! 

4. Computers can be distracting at times. 

Watching a class on a laptop isn’t always a seamless process. Keyboards might as well be drums when our toddlers are watching a class. To address that, we’ve been streaming  classes on our TVs. This limits distractions (and buttons to press…), and we’ve found that our little ones stay more engaged. 

5. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! 

At the end of the day, it takes time to get comfortable with online classes. The biggest challenge is finding the ones that your children are interested in. The teacher, length, and category of class all play a part in whether or not a class will work for your family. The biggest thing to remember is that it’s okay to try lots of them! 

Starting with free classes is a great way to gauge your little one’s interests. To help with your discovery, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite free activities here.

"Remote learning gives my daughter an opportunity to pursue something she is passionate about instead of just doing assignments school is handing out." — Cecelia, D.

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