*** Updated Jan 5, 2021 ***

We are now in Month 4 of distance learning! We survived so far, but with UK schools now switching to online learning, I thought I should share some of the things we have learned along the way.

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  • We have found it super helpful to get up dressed and teeth brushed every morning before school starts, as if the kids were going to school in person.
  • Keeping a routine throughout the day also helps, my kids have preassigned times to log into class so ours are decided for us.
  • Keeping track of your kids routines using the Calendar app, or a wall chart, so you know who should be where and at what time.
  • Routines during break times helps us immensely too, during the 15 minute morning break we try to get out for a walk or scooter/bike ride, Lunch break is an hour and the kids take time away from the screen to play, with toys or outside, afternoon break everyone is usually flagging so we try to stretch or get some fresh air and get those crazies out!
  • Setting an audible alarm (using iPhone alarm) a few minutes before the end of break times helps everyone get back to school on time.

“School” room

  • In an effort to keep on top of the learning we have all our kids working in the same room. That has advantages and disadvantages but it seems to be working for us so far. If someone needs to speak up in class it’s ok as they are all wearing headphones. If one has a gym or music lesson then they move to another room so as not to disturb each other.
  • Having the kids all in one room means that we are no longer running around the house constantly checking in with each child and can keep up the encouragement when they are flagging. The older children also enjoy helping the younger if they get stuck or have tech issues.
  • Having one “school” room also means our supply list this year was MUCH shorter; one pack of crayons/markers/coloring pencils etc.
  • We had our kids agree on some “school” rules that they would all try to follow whilst in the school room. Those include; letting everyone know when you need to turn on your mic to speak in class and speaking quietly at all times.


  • Limiting access to phones and other tech has been important as the temptation is quite strong! Removing them from reach or by setting time limits using iPhone Screen Time are possible ways to do this.
  • We’ve found taking phone calls or meetings in the “school” room is really distracting, despite everyone wearing headphones.
  • Drink spillages! these are a huge distraction and seemed to be happening a lot, with such a lot of expensive technology and all that paperwork, we decided to switch to closed cups for lesson times. The older kids like the Starbucks style reusable cups and straws.


  • Teaching my kids the best way to write an email has also come in very useful over the last few months. They have had to write many emails to their teachers for a variety of reasons, so I put together a handy guide for them to help remind them of the best etiquette. Download a copy here.

Attention Span

My kids attention span seems to be a little less than the length of the online lessons! We have a few tricks in our house to help with that:

  • Food! When my kids were toddlers I was ‘that mum’ who would travel with a huge bag of snacks, school concerts, PTA meetings, theatre performances. I was never without a bag of goodies to entertain my toddler and those around us! Now with online learning I realized the same thing, if my kids have something to snack on when their attention is starting to wander it helps keep them focused.
    • Breakfast is small, and as soon as attention levels drop in the morning we have a healthy snack, chopped apple/banana/grapes, fruit leather, toast (chopped into bite sized pieces for my littlest)
    • Lunch time is spent playing not eating, perhaps controversial, but they don’t want to spend another 20-30 minutes sitting down to eat. They play for an hour and then take a snack type lunch back to their desk for the afternoon session, this has helped immensely with that lag that happens in the afternoon.
    • Afternoon snack, about 30 minutes before the end of the school day they are usually done. We find a treat snack about this time really helps morale… Not everyday but somedays they really need a little chocolatey treat or a biscuit, and so do I!
  • Fidget Toys my middle child is a total fidget, she can’t sit still, she finds having something to play with whilst listening in lessons really helps her. After a few weeks of fidget spinners and heavy noisy toys being a little distracting to everyone else in the room, we have found a small piece of play-doh or our favorite Mad Mattr dough, works really well to keep her focused and less distracted.

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2 thoughts on “Online & Distance Learning Tips

  1. Just great Emma , as former maths consultant , this ticks boxes in many ways for both home and school based learning . Well observed and also totally effective for enabling learning at different times of the day and different situations. I especially applaud the fidget solution , Vital for many learners and helps embed the concepts they are being shown. Superb and thank you .


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