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My name is Claudia and I'm a teacher who helps parents with their kids remote and distance learning as well as well as how kids can best learn online and with technology!


Help: My 5 year old won't sit still for an online lesson

Updated: May 24, 2020

A little boys looks into a giant aquarium a some colourful fish

Many parents around the world have been disheartened by full-time distance learning programmes by schools as children are required to sit still for long periods of time just to take part in their daily lessons.

If there’s one thing children don’t like it’s sitting still.

Children as young as five can usually sit and listen for around 15 minutes. Every child is unique and so some may find ten minutes excruciating whilst others may be quite happy to sit and listen for over 20 minutes.

Either way sitting and listening is not a good way for a young child to learn.

First of all, ask yourself - is it your school/teacher who is expecting children to sit and listen for long periods or is it you?

Schools are unlikely to expect young children to sit and listen/watch for long periods and are most likely advising active, hands-on activities for the majority of children’s ‘school day’.

Embrace this. It relieves you of your struggle to keep your son or daughter on their bottom and focused.

If this is not the case, and your child is unable to sit and listen for the periods required by your education provider, then don’t worry. There is NO USE in forcing a child to sit and listen because they WILL NOT LEARN.

Five minutes of engagement in a lesson will be much more beneficial than a full 20 minutes of being repeatedly reminded to sit down, sit still, and listen.

Find a compromise that's right for your child

If a lesson is 20 minutes long and your child is deeply engaged for the first five minutes and the last five minutes with a 10-minute break in between then THAT IS FINE.

Communicate with your teacher

Find out which are the most important sections of the lessons to make the most of focused time.

Take advantage of pre-recorded distance learning resources

Many schools will be providing pre-recorded content or recordings of past live lessons to parents which can be used at any time and paused if necessary.

Most importantly of all - DON’T WORRY. Don’t stress yourself out over something you cannot control. Children can’t be forced to focus and learn. Focus on what your unique child CAN do and how they learn best.

Remember that:

  • this won’t be forever.

  • plenty of other parents are facing the same struggles around the world.

  • generally, things are not taught once and then never again.

  • when children return to schools, teachers will likely recap on what has been covered during distance learning.

Don’t stop supporting your child but work cooperatively rather than making demands. Your child will learn better and you will both enjoy the experience much more.


Do you have something to add to this post? Let me know your thoughts or ask me questions relating to online learning with children here.



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