Tips for Online Lessons

Online Lessons

In this season of Covid-19, children have had to go through their school lessons online. The challenges that come with online lessons can be seen being experienced by students, teachers and parents. 


Children may find it more challenging to attend and participate as best they can like how they would in physical classes. Some parents may be able to attend the online lessons with their children and support them so that they are able to participate better, while some parents may not be able to due to their work from home circumstances. 


Teachers are facing challenges to ensure that their lessons are as engaging as possible so as to help their students comprehend the lesson material and achieve their learning objectives. 


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Challenges in Online Lessons

  1. Attention 
  2. Distraction 
  3. Motivation


In general, online school sessions just don’t work for some children, whether or not they have autism. It can be genuinely challenging for them and with teachers having a tight schedule and so much learning material to cover within a lesson, there’s only so much that can be done to achieve a 100% success.  

Challenge #1 Attention - How to Address This?

1. Teach Online Lessons Etiquette: This helps set children’s mood for a formal and structured online lesson. 


a) Children should wear appropriate clothing. They may not necessarily have to wear school uniforms, but at least decent clothing to cue that they are attending a “formal” event, not having a play time. 



b) Teach to Mute & Unmute Mics 

  • While children should leave their camera switched on, it would be an added advantage if they can learn to control their mics independently. Or if they struggle with this, perhaps teach them to request for assistance to do so. 


c) Ownership of Device 

  • This includes having gentle hands when using their device, not having food and drinks near their device during lessons, not using pencil on their device, and the list goes on.
  •  All these rules can be placed on a visual and placed on their learning table to remind them. 


Materials that can be downloaded: 

  1. Social Story – Online Classes
  2. Visual reminders – Online Lessons Etiquette
  3. Visual reminders – Class Rules (A4) & Class Rules (A5)

2. Break Skills Down: 

a) Lessons to be broken down to smaller or shorter parts to help children gradually build their attention span. 


b) It is recommended starting with a shorter duration of lesson first. If a child can already successfully attend a lesson for 10 minutes, then perhaps consider starting from that duration. 


c) If schedule permits, then consider having 2-3 classes of that duration during the day to increase the practice.

3.  Structure: 

a) Lessons to be structured in a way that allows children to start with easier tasks first before moving to more difficult tasks. 


b) Gradually increase the difficulty of tasks. Teachers can provide subtle hints or prompts if they notice the child’s attention is slowly reducing.  


c) Scheduling regular brain breaks within a session will also provide some time for the children to take a breather or do some physical movements to help reset their energy level


d) Display common rules and reminders on a visual at every transition to increase communication to the children. 


Materials that can be downloaded: 

  1. Visual icons – Class Schedule (Blank)
  2. Visual icons – Subjects

Challenge #2 Distraction - How to Address This?

1. Utilise Visuals: This can range from the visual reminders teachers display on the screen during lessons or the printed visuals parents place on their child’s learning table or wall, wherever appropriate and within the child’s sightlines. 


a) Teachers can use transitional visuals like “Brain Break”, “Math”, “Quiz”, or class rules like “Take Turns”, “Mute mic”, “Raise hand to answer”, “Use gentle voice”. 


b) Parents can use visuals like  “Camera on”, “Nice hands on iPad”, “eyes on teacher”, and the list goes on.

2. Location: It is very helpful for children to attend online school lessons in a less-to-no distraction room or area of the house. 


a) Preferably at a corner where children can see the wall if they look up, no TV around, no colourful pictures on the wall, and with no toys around. 


b) Keep the environment clean and with all things kept away. This will also help make the environment more “formal” and less “play-like”. 

3. Group Size: Children may get too excited when they are able to meet their friends, even if they are virtual. 


a) Teachers can consider starting with them on a 1:1 setting first and when the children are more successful, the group size can then be gradually increased by the number of students in the class, ideally by 1 child at a time. 


b) Camera Setup: It is beneficial to ensure that the children in the group all have a blank background and none can distract the other children.

Challenge #3 Motivation - How to Address This?

1. Fear Vs. Fun: Instilling fear may work for some children but it won’t last long. Incorporating lots of fun elements will really contribute to children’s overall success in their online lessons. 


a) Incorporate fun games during the online lessons.

    • When children associate learning with fun, this will motivate them even further and will strengthen their attention. 

b)Making Learning Fun

    • There are so many resources and ideas online that will help make learning fun for students and teachers. Feel free to revisit our series on Making Learning Fun for more ideas! 

Your Turn

  1. Identify the main challenge(s) your child is experiencing in their online sessions.
  2. Try the recommended strategies to address these concerns and help your child be more successful in online sessions.