Kinesthetic Engagement in the Virtual Classroom
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many students out of school and required educators to create virtual classrooms. Now that the school year is starting up again, many school districts have opted for a virtual or hybrid model in favor of in-person schooling. While virtual or hybrid options are the best for stopping the spread of COVID-19, they present new challenges for supporting students’ social and academic success.
The classroom environment should be set up to promote students’ physical and intellectual development. Especially in elementary classrooms, students have the opportunity for daily exercise and play. Play helps children develop their creativity, physical strength, cooperation with others, and emotional strength. These areas all key for brain development!
Consequences of Virtual Learning
Now, imagine taking all of that away. Today, children can feel stuck in a virtual space with little playtime. They are often forced to sit and stare at their screens for hours at a time. Even if they do have time for play, they might not have the same space or access to toys as they did in the classroom. As a result, students’ physical development can be negatively impacted. For example, improper computer set up and lack of frequent physical activity can cause tendonitis, back pain, and internal organ issues (Princeton University’s Health Services).
Social isolation from peers is another consequence of virtual learning. Social isolation can cause children to have more mental health difficulties and challenges in future relationships (Matthews, Danese, Wertz, et al. 2015). These factors can cause even more challenges for students with ACEs or trauma. In response, it is crucial to provide students with physical, social, and emotional support.
Strategies to Support our Students
We know this is a very difficult time for students, families, and educators to adjust to virtual learning. It is our goal to help you adapt and support students in the virtual classroom! Here are some strategies from our YouTube Channel. You can use these videos to support healthy physical and social development!