Written by Nalda R.

Distance learning presents a challenge to learning that places most of us outside of our comfort zone. The solution: active learning.

Helping your child use active learning can help overcome some of the discomforts of learning at a distance or through hybrid learning systems. 

Active learning is exactly what it sounds like and occurs when a student engages with the learning process rather than passively accepting information.

With the transition to online and hybrid learning, many students are experiencing less opportunity for active learning.

Tips to Help Your Child with Active Learning

So, you may be wondering, how do I help my child with active learning. You can support active learning by:

  • Asking questions. Your child needs to actively engage with the information they are learning. If there is little to no opportunity for small group discussion in the classroom, you can supplement this by asking questions.

The types of questions you ask are important here. Rather than simply asking your child what they are learning, follow up with questions about what they think about what they are learning.

  • Ask your child how what they are learning in class fits in with what they already know. Ask your child how they can use what they are learning in everyday life.

The Learning Pyramid below is a visual representation of learning activities that fall within the active-passive spectrum. Activities closer to the base of the pyramid are more active and increase the student’s understanding and retention.

  • Have your child prepare a presentation for someone else. One way kids often engage in active learning is by preparing short presentations within the classroom. This allows them to think more deeply about the information they are taking in. 

If this isn’t happening in your child’s online or hybrid learning experience, consider having your child prepare a presentation to share with family and friends.

Not only will this provide your child the opportunity to engage actively with the information they are studying, but it is a great way to help them engage socially with distanced family.

Grandparents would love to get a video call from your child sharing something they are learning. This also acts as a way of bonding and engaging further with people who may have a different view of the information.

If your child’s texts offer activity suggestions, engage your child in completing these activities. 

Tips for Creating an Active Learning Environment for Older Children

If your child is old enough to be more independent in learning, help them to learn strategies for active learning. You can find information on active learning techniques at Open Polytechnic. You can help them by teaching them to:

  • Ask questions as they read the information for their class.
  • Make notes in their own words. Learning to paraphrase allows your child the opportunity to reflect on what the information really means. This simple skill will greatly improve your child’s likelihood of remembering information read.

Click on the infographic below to download a larger copy.

  • Summarize what was read. An interesting way to support this skill is to have your child write a letter summarizing what they are learning and mail it to a friend or family member.

If your family likes to engage in active dinners together this is another opportunity to encourage your child to share summarized information about topics studied.

Remember to maintain an open channel for communication as your child grows to encourage this aspect of active learning.

  • Think about how what they are learning fits into what they already know.
  • Think about how they can use what they are learning in their everyday life. As parents, we have all heard children despair at how they will never need some aspect of their learning once they grow up.

Challenge your child to look for the ways they could apply the information they are learning.

Find opportunities to help your child engage in the information they are learning in class.

Creating Opportunities for Active Learning Throughout the Day

  • Encourage dinner discussions: The dinner table is often a great space for sharing, reflecting, and engaging in discussions about what is being learned.

Making it a habit for every member of the family to share aspects of their day allows for frequent and effortless active learning. Encourage children to ask questions and share opinions about what their siblings have to share.

  • Engage in car talk: Whether you are driving to the grocery store, or out to the park for some exercise, for the amount of time it takes you to get where you are going, you have a captive audience.
  • Expand your learning support team: Encouraging engagement between family members outside of your home will help you build a larger learning support team for your child.

If your child’s grandparents, aunts, and uncles are willing to be a sounding board for your child’s learning and discoveries, this could help your family bond and improve the overall wellbeing of all of the family members involved.

  • Encourage online academic engagement beyond the classroom: Most older kids will engage with their friends online. However, they will not always focus their attention on learning.

Encouraging your child to engage in online study groups or discussion sessions related to the information they are learning in the classrooms will also help support active learning.