Make your home page

Students are returning to school to kick off the new learning year and many of them are doing so virtually or in some hybrid of in-person and virtual learning. For many students, virtual learning, and the thought of being on Zoom or video calls most of the day is causing them a lot of anxiety and stress. 

Here are a few tips from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language to help students manage their virtual learning and Zoom anxiety so they can keep their focus on learning. 

1. Talk to your student about how they are feeling

Going back to school virtually can feel isolating to students. Without the benefit of back to school nights, in-person orientations, and opportunities to connect face-to-face with teachers and classmates, it is easy for them to feel like they are on their own in this back-to-school experience and that can increase their stress and uncertainty. 

It’s important that parents and caregivers stand in as a their student’s trusted resource in this time and as such, asking them questions not just about what they have to do to get ready but how they’re feeling about the experience can be a great way to open up the lines of communication, really show them that you are listening to them, and offer reassurance and guidance that they may need to feel less alone in the process. 

2. Help Them Prepare Their Learning Space and Remove Distractions

Keeping track of Zoom links, managing class schedules and homework, and controlling what’s happening in the background during their actual virtual classes can all help your student feel better prepared and supported in the virtual learning process. 

If they are nervous or anxious about what their background or home environment might look like on video calls or worry that they might be judged by other students, help them set up an organized, clean, and well-lit workspace that may help them feel more confident and able to focus on paying attention to what’s happening in their class and less about what’s going on in their learning space at home. If a neutral background isn’t possible, maybe consider helping them set up a digital green screen background for video calls, may apps have that feature available.    

3. Offer Them Reassurance

For many students, virtual learning is a new experience for them and they may feel like people will be “watching” them while in video or Zoom classes. All of these worries can be distracting and can even make some students not want to participate or continue learning. Let your student know that they’re not alone in feeling that way but reassure them that everyone is likely paying less attention to them or judging them less than they feel like or think. Everyone else is busy managing the same feelings and how they themselves are showing up in class to be focused on them!

Remind your student that the primary goal of the teachers, whether in person or in the virtual classroom, is to make sure that their students are learning and that they are all on his/her side, cheering them on to be successful! 

For more from Mitchell, visit her website or Instagram.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With virtual learning and the pandemic, there’s an increase in screen time for kids and that has some parents concerned about their children’s eyesight.

Eye strain is the biggest concern. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children said more parents are bringing their kids in to get their eyes checked.

At this point, experts said it’s just too early to know the full impact all this extra screen time is having on kids, however, eye doctors in Indianapolis are optimistic it won’t negatively impact children’s eyes in the long term.

“The normal visual system doesn’t get eye strain in children. In adults it’s different, but in children the normal visual system does not get eye strain,” said Dr. Kathryn Haider, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Riley Hospital for Children.

Although kids are less likely to get eye strain than adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours of screen time a day for children. This two-hour limit does not include e-learning, or emotionally-connected activity, such as FaceTime with family. Doctors said children with consistently more than two hours a day of screen time are more likely to have other issues, such as obesity.

When it comes to eye strain, doctors recommend kids and adults should take some simple steps to help, just to be safe.

“[It’s] called the 20/20/20 rule. So after 20 minutes of doing any screen time, you take a 20 second break and you look away for about 20 feet,” said Dr. Haider.

Doctors said they start to see eye strain with age. So, it is likely to begin in people who are young adults and continue to increase through adulthood with the use of screens. Dr. Haider also does not recommend people use blue blocking glasses and instead said people should simply invest in a good pair of sunglasses for when they’re outside.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s back to school, virtually, for a lot of kids across Indiana. However, for many districts this e-learning has come a long way since the spring, utilizing new technology and educational online programs. 

At Greenbriar Elementary School in Washington Township, teachers and students have been back to virtual learning for a week. The empty hallways and empty desks are a sign of the times, but the classrooms now have staff inside teaching virtual classes. 

The district has provided either iPads or Chromebooks to all students. The first few days of school were about learning how to do e-learning, especially for young students where this is their first experience with school.

Brittany Reedy is a teacher at Greenbriar Elementary School and now connects with her first-grade students online. She shows them how to use the zoom-like technology, mute their computers and sit within the camera screen. She’s making the new normal of teaching and socializing with students online, work as well as possible.

“We are really thinking about what questions are the kids going to have? What is going to come up that we need to prepare for ahead of time? So now, it’s just doing that virtually. So, as far as the electronics and the technology, thinking about what might they not know how to navigate,” said Reedy.

Getting 18 kids to listen, miles apart is a challenge. While it’s sad for everyone not to be in person, schools are using iPads and Chromebooks to make the best of a bad situation.

“Just being back with a teacher and starting to learn those routines and those procedures, just what it is like to be in a somewhat social environment, even though it is virtually. That is really where our kids are learning. So it is just be here with us now and working on what we can,” said Reedy.

Brittany Reedy teaching 1st Graders at Greenbriar Elementary School

There’s still math, science and small groups for reading. Plus, new interactive online programs such as Lexia and Dreambox enable teachers to educate at a distance. The students even learn about internet safety and embrace the change.

“Initially, it’s introducing the technology and application. And then the next phase is helping them understand even though I am communicating online, not all of my school work is going to be online,” said Greenbriar Elementary School Principal, Tim Blom

Currently, it’s not clear when kids will be back to school in-person in Washington Township. However, Blom thinks this time away will have some benefits.

“It is difficult to be in the building without kids, but I also feel a great sense of pride when I see how hard our teachers are working to still connect. Get creative in their classrooms and be engaging. I am very hopeful at this point that we will get through this moment of time and be stronger for it,” said Blom.

That’s the mentality teachers like Reedy are taking, still, they miss seeing their students in person.

“I hope that we get them back in the classroom soon,” said Reedy.