5 easy ways to increase focus in a virtual class
school-based learning | Autism

5 easy ways to increase focus in a virtual class

With school back in session, thinking of ways to increase focus in a virtual class is at the top of every parent’s list. I’m sure you have either seen or have a child that cannot stay focused for long. They are consistently bouncing up and out of their seat every chance they can get.

Or their head is facing the computer, but their eyes are shifty, looking at everything else but the screen! So what do we do? We try these easy tips listed below to help them increase their attention span and stay focused in the virtual class.

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1. Increase focus by Giving them a break

Students, especially the younger ones, struggle with staying focused on one task for too long.

From experience, I learned that within my sessions, by providing my students with a short break and a reward system, they produced better quality work samples and overall improvement.

In a 2016 study, the data collected showed that the children were less attentive when the lesson extended from 10 to 30 minutes before a break. 

Taking breaks not only helped with focus, but they also reduce stress. Reduced stress allowed an increase in productivity and better work from your child in the end.

Breaks are beneficial to everyone. We could all use a break from time to time. So let’s try to make time for break time. 

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2. Increase focus by trying a snack

While we are at home, a snack is so easy to grab. How about we get something that will increase your child’s focus? Preferably while they are one that much-needed break?

How about a banana? They are high in potassium and help deliver oxygen to the brain. Bananas also have magnesium in them that helps to eliminate waste (protein metabolism ammonia). So when that waste is gone, the magnesium can help to improve your child’s focus.

What about some berries? Berries are high in antioxidants. Strawberries and blueberries can help increase focus. A 2014 study showed that the antioxidants found in berries have a positive impact on the brain resulting in boosted learning and improved memory.

Even a quick PB&J can help increase focus, plus a kid favorite, win-win? Peanut butter contains a lot of protein that helps increase alertness and focus. Having a protein-rich diet is so beneficial to your brain health. Protein is essential for getting nutrients to your brain cells to maintain a healthy brain balance.

3. Increase focus by providing a sensory break

Before we get into providing a sensory break, I wanted to make sure you know what that is and how it can help increase focus in a virtual class.

A sensory break is a time that allows your child to jump, spin, swing, and do the things that they need to do to regulate themselves. You can read more about sensory break benefits here.

Now, this is different for every child, but I wanted to share a few suggestions in hopes of one being a good fit for your child. Sensory breaks are usually about 3-5 minutes. I suggested a few kids can do at home.

Kids can:

  • Climb the stairs
  • Do jumping jacks
  • Hang upside down off the couch
  • Lay down with a weighted blanket
  • Spin in a chair with wheels 
  • Make slime
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4. offer a reward system to increase focus in a virtual class

Who doesn’t want to work towards a reward? This reward can be anything that you can think of that will get your child motivated to take on the task of focusing in class.

The system can consist of giving them a daily reward if they hit their target goal for each day. For example, before school begins for the day, let your child know about the reward system that you have put in place.

Tell your child that if they focus for 10 minutes straight in class today, they can play their favorite game for 30 minutes after school once homework is complete (or something like that).

Rewards systems are only to be put in place for a few weeks, long enough for the task you are trying to accomplish to become a routine.

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5. Decrease distractions to increase focus

increase focus in a virtual class

Distractions, distractions, how they make my job hard! But, we can eliminate them to increase focus in a virtual class. Devices are great, just not in the hands of my students in a virtual session.

I had the most challenging time getting a student to focus because they joined my session with a tablet already in hand. When the parent took the device from the child, all you know what broke loose!

Let’s help one another out and put the tablets up before the start of virtual sessions and classes (unless the device is for that class).

Whenever possible, when your child is learning online, you can have the child in their own space away from other siblings, so they are not distracted by what the others are doing. If your child is in a room with a tv, you can make sure the tv is off. Having the tv on is a big distraction for a kid, they would pick watching tv over focusing in class.

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Lastly, I’ve had a lot of parents who hold the device that the child is using for the virtual class. The problem with that is the device is moving. That camera was picking up everything but the kid, making it hard for us to see one another. It’s a distraction for the students if they are not able to see what the teacher is asking them to do. So I would suggest leaving the device in one place, preferably on the table, propped up with the camera focused on the student.


So as you can see changing small things in your child’s routine can often help to increase focus in a virtual class. Or by simply having your child stick to a routine can help increase focus in a virtual class as well. There are so many ways to accomplish this goal! Every child is different and will respond in their own unique way to each strategy, so finding the one right way to increase their focus in a fun and interactive way will make virtual learning more enjoyable for everyone!

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increase focus in a virtual class

About the author

Erika is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant working in an elementary school setting. She wanted to create a blog and podcast that shows all sides of school-based learning. Her #1 focus is on providing parents of children with learning disabilities with relevant information in hopes of making each day a little more functional. So if you are interested in more content like this, please sign up below.

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