New year, same online learning — am I right? The future of in-person learning is looking brighter these days but we know that “Zoom fatigue” is hitting children and parents alike pretty hard right now!

You are not alone. As we approach the one year mark in our all-digital lifestyle we here at Chess at Three are continuing to seek out new ways to keep learning fresh! So we checked in with over a hundred of our Chess at Three tutors and gathered their advice for successful online learning. We believe their advice is so potent and beneficial we wanted to share it with parents and educators everywhere.

Here they are: the top 9 tips and tricks for fighting online fatigue and keeping learning fun!

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1. Let’s get moving!
Children are physical beings and so to make sitting in front of a computer easier and more engaging for them, give them a physical activity! Perhaps a fidget spinner, a rubber band… I’ve even seen a parent set up a stationary bicycle for their child, which was genius. – Sara 

2. A little chit-chat gets the lesson going.
Take advantage of the first few minutes to have a conversation about anything the student wants to talk about. Don’t worry if this “chit-chat time” takes a bit longer than usual. Isolation takes a toll on everyone, students included, and having a social connection is extremely valuable. – Jessica

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3. Stick to the plan, Stan.
When you transition into teaching mode, give your students the whole plan ahead of time, even down to the minute if you can. For example: “First, we’re going to hear a story. Then, when the clock says 9:20, we’re going to play a fun game. Can you be the Time Wizard and tell me when it’s time to switch?” This will give them a sense of responsibility and structure, as well as keep you on track with your lesson plan. – Nola

4. You’ve got a friend in me.
For my younger students, I have found it super helpful to have “friends” join us for chess class.  One of my little guys brings a new stuffed animal to class each week. After he introduces us, my student and I work together to help our “new friend” catch up by going over some of the things we learned the previous week. It has proved to be a very successful way to review the Secret Missions! – Sarah

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5. If you’re silly and you know it, clap your hands!
I have found it really helpful to take a silly face break. Zoom and online learning can be exhausting and sometimes just making weird faces at each other over Zoom will reset the brain and create a moment to laugh together as we both get used to virtual life. – Lexie

6. Questions are queen.
Ask your students lots of questions so they can engage actively in the lesson instead of passively watching what you do. – Jessica 

7. Teacher for the day!
One of the most effective teaching tools I have found with young children is to pretend as if you have forgotten about everything you have ever taught them. Empower them to educate you, and you will be shocked at how much information they can recall and how well they can teach it back to you. – Alex

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8. I spy with my little eye…
For a fun game to change it up, I take a photo with all sorts of objects on it, share my screen, and start a game of “I Spy,” giving hints to the object. For example, if I want a student to find a dinosaur toy in the photo I’ll say, “I spy something that lived a long time ago.” Great for building eagle eyes for chess too. – Jennifer

9. Keep it crazy!
I encourage my students to embrace the craziness of this moment. It is a time like no other and should be treated as such! Together, we’ll pick themes for the lesson every week such as Silly Hat Day, Crazy Hair Chess, speaking in your best British accent, and so much more. I want my students to know that it’s okay to step outside the box at this moment. Our whole life is outside the box these days! – Katie

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We hope these tips and ideas help you and your child navigate the difficult times we’re all living through. We are so thankful for our incredibly gifted and creative teachers and their ability to keep Chess at Three lessons feeling fresh and fun!

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