Guy concentrating on pushing buttons that light up to test reflexes.

This year, virtual learning became the “new normal” for many kids. Maybe your child has been learning virtually for a while, or maybe they will need to in the future. Whatever the case may be for your family, ChildServe’s experts are here to help your child be more successful and comfortable while learning virtually.

As your child is learning from home, watch out for common trouble spots and learn tips for how you can help maximize your child’s comfort and health while they learn!

Seeing

Are you noticing any of the following in your child?

  • Frequent eye blinking or rubbing of eyes
  • Reports of being too tired to look at the screen
  • Increased headaches
  • Bringing head closer to screen and squinting
  • Tilting their head or body to look at their screen
  • Closing or covering one eye when doing schoolwork on their device
  • Frequently losing their place
  • Unable to read for long periods
  • Poor reading comprehension compared to their usual levels
  • Poor handwriting compared to their usual levels

 

Try this:

  • Have your child wear glasses if prescribed; this will help them get an excellent visual work start.
  • Place their device at eye level by using a slant board or placing it on large books.
  • Provide frequent eye breaks, approximately every 20 minutes, that do not include another device or visual work. Provide other options like movement breaks: jumping jacks, wall push-ups, and having them closing their eyes and counting to 10 or singing a favorite song.
  • Enlarge font and size of text/pages to decrease eye strain.
  • For children with light sensitivity, lower computer brightness or place a blue light screen filter over their device. You can also have the child work in dimmed lighting.
Positioning 

Are you noticing this?

  • Poor posture
  • Increased headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Wrist pain
  • Bringing head closer to screen and squinting
  • Dangling feet with no place to rest them
  • Unable to get comfortable or focus because something doesn’t feel right.

Try this:

  • Provide a well-lit work area for children who don’t have light sensitivity.
  • Place the device in an environment that is free of clutter or a busy background.
  • Provide sensory fidgets under their desk or table or a resistive band around the bottom of their chair can be help children who need sensory input to stay focused.
  • Place their device on a flat surface (desk or table).
  • Have their screen at face level or adjust it so they can look directly at the screen and speak directly into the microphone
  • Ensure they are sitting 90-90-90 in their chair with feet flat on the floor or use a footstool.
  • Ensure they maintain an upright posture by placing a small pillow or rolled-up towel between the back and the chair.
  • Ensure their wrists are not bent down or up too far, and try to keep them in a neutral position to their forearm. Do this by rolling a small towel to place under their wrists to rest on while typing.
  • Provide various seating options for children who have difficulty sitting in a chair:
    • Yoga ball
    • Lying on floor
    • Beanbag chair
    • Wobble stool
    • A sensory cushion on their chair

Continued below.

Hearing and Understanding

Are you noticing this?

  • Trouble hearing what is being said over the computer (listening versus hearing).
  • They are struggling to understand what teachers are asking them to do (following directions).
  • Trouble understanding what people are saying to them (following conversation).
  • They are struggling to understand what the homework is saying (reading comprehension, etc.).

Try this:

  • Check that your child can hear online participants and be heard by communication partners over the computer audio.
  • Use headphones or earbuds (if appropriate) to block out distracting noises.
  • Ensure your child knows how to adjust the volume of the speaker or microphone.
  • If headphones are not available or not an option, have your child sit in a quiet location away from distracting noises.
Speech

Are you noticing this?

  • Trouble speaking clearly enough for others to understand them (articulation)
  • Trouble communicating effectively and functionally (using appropriate grammar, vocabulary, sentence length, etc.)
  • Trouble using appropriate social communication skills in conversations.

Try this:

  • Refrain from eating during speech sessions as it interferes with intelligibility and reduces communication.
  • Ensure your child speaks straight into the device, not to the side or down where the microphone can’t pick up audio.
  • Help them be aware of other people speaking – watch for the highlighted picture frame on the current speaker.
  • Do not interrupt – the computer audio cannot distinguish between multiple speakers simultaneously.
  • Ensure they are not speaking too loudly or quietly.
Sensory

Noticing this?

  • Unable to sit still as appropriate for their age
  • Unable to find a comfortable position or focus.

Try this:

  • Provide different for the child to learn, such as practicing writing letters and shapes in shaving cream, rice or kinetic sand.
  • Provide visual timers for children who have a hard time mentally visualizing when they can be done with a task.
  • Do something to get their blood flowing (walking or running a lap around the house, jumping jacks, squats, or going outside and playing with a basketball or volleyball for a few minutes). Exercise in even short bursts is useful to help increase focus and attention.
Need More Help? Contact Us

If any issues above persist, visiting an occupational, physical or speech therapist may be appropriate. For questions about ChildServe’ outpatient therapy services, contact our welcome team who can help direct your call:

  • Johnston | 515-727-8750
  • Ames | 515-232-7220
  • Iowa City | 319-351-5437

About

ChildServe improves the health and well-being of more than 4,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.

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