Virtual learning has become the norm since Covid-19 closed schools and left millions of children stuck at home being taught by stressed-out parents. For teachers, it has been a steep learning curve.

Teaching in the classroom is a very different experience to teaching via online learning platforms. It’s much harder to keep children engaged, as they can easily be distracted by what’s happening at home. Most teachers are used to delivering content while standing in front of a whiteboard, in a room where they can continuously monitor who’s listening and who’s gazing out of the window.

When you take kids out of the classroom and ask them to sit in front of a keyboard and monitor at home, you have to keep them focused on the task at hand. This isn’t easy. Kids at home have gaming consoles and other distractions to keep them occupied, and if their parents are simultaneously trying to work from home, there won’t be much in the way of parental support.

It’s even harder to keep younger children engaged. They have a shorter attention span and tend to benefit from group learning, where they can be social and sit in small groups. PowerPoint presentations and Zoom chats won’t work for this age group. You’ll need to do things differently. Here’s how you can keep younger kids engaged.

Keep it Social

Social connections are very important for younger children. They enjoy interacting with their friends and teachers. Thanks to technology, it’s very easy to make social interaction a big part of your lessons. Instead of expecting the kids to sit and listen to you talk about a topic, come up with lesson plans that involve sharing videos and pictures.

For example, if you are teaching children about pollination, you could ask them to take photos of bees in flowers and share them with the group.

It doesn’t always need to be about lessons and learning.

Ask each child to make a short video of what they did each weekend – it’s a fun way to keep children connected with each other.

Use Interactive learning

Keep kids engaged by way of interactive learning. Ask open-ended questions, encourage everyone to take part in group discussions, and create simple quizzes and fill-in-the-blank activities.

Ask kids to create drawings and write short stories they can share with the class. The more collaborative tasks are, the easier it will be for the whole class to join in – virtually, of course.

Distance Education Strategies and Tools

Look for the right platform learning tool to ensure younger children can access lessons quickly and easily. If your kids are not concentrating, you can gently draw them back in and keep them on task. has lots of great tools, such as chat and messaging applications. You can use these strategies and tools to keep your pupils focused.

Finally, encourage students to partner up online to tackle larger tasks. Give them projects to work on in their own time and provide breakout spaces where they can chat about tasks they are doing. Keep lessons short and try to avoid anything that involves you talking at the screen for an hour. Tell us more about your distance teaching strategies. What works for you?