Live video lessons: 5 ways kids struggle and how to help

Kids in online learning programs often work independently and at their own pace. But some programs include live video lessons. Learn about some common struggles and ways you can help kids make the most of live online learning.

Much of online learning involves tasks students complete on their own time. But sometimes learning online includes live video lessons that happen at a specific time. These take place via videoconference tools like Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom.

A live video class can help students stay connected to their lessons. But kids who learn and think differently may find this format hard. Even after a tour of the tool, they might not feel at ease. Here are some ways kids might find live video lessons challenging and what teachers and families can do to support them.

Scroll down for a one-page version of these tips.

1. Feeling anxious about being on camera 

Stomachaches, sweaty palms, racing heartbeats. For some students, being on camera causes anxiety. Tell kids that it’s OK to feel worried and that together you can come up with a plan to make live video lessons better. 

What can help: 

  • Do a one-on-one practice lesson to try out the video tool.

  • Check in privately before the lesson starts to help kids name their emotions and talk about possible causes and solutions.  

  • Tell kids to take five deep breaths before the live video lesson. 

  • Check in after the lesson to see how they’re feeling and what to try next time.

  • Talk about when it’s OK to turn off their camera.  

2. Staying focused

Live video lessons tend to come with a lot of distractions. Chat boxes, classmates on camera, and unmuted microphones can make it hard to focus. Let students know you’ll work together to find ways to make it easier to focus during online learning.  

What can help:  

  • Encourage kids to set up a quiet, clutter-free space before they join the video lesson. 

  • Show the different options for how to view the video. Help kids decide which view is less distracting than the others.

  • Talk about when it’s OK to turn off their camera or close the chat box to help them focus on learning new information. 

  • Suggest trying out seating options, like using a different chair or standing up. 

  • Let students know they can take a break after the lesson. 

3. Keeping up with the lesson

Kids may say that the teacher is “talking too fast.” They may need more time to process what they’re hearing or more time to respond when they’re called on. Tell them that it’s OK to take time to think about what they’re learning. Let them know that together you can find ways to help them ask questions and review the lesson.

What can help: 

  • Make sure kids know the teacher’s preferred way for them to ask questions during the lesson. Show them how to use the chat box or any features that let the teacher know they have a question. 

  • Encourage kids to write down any questions they didn’t get to ask during the lesson, so they’ll remember to ask them later. 

  • Help kids get a recording or transcript so they can review the lesson at their own pace.

4. Managing sensory information 

Bright screens, incoming chats, background noises. There’s a lot of sensory information to process during a live video lesson. Let kids know you’ll work together to make what they hear and see during live video meetings more comfortable.

What can help: 

  • Suggest using earphones or earbuds to block out sounds from home and help kids focus on the video. (But keep in mind that sometimes earphones can be uncomfortable.) Try adjusting the volume too.

  • Make sure kids know how to adjust the screen brightness. Some kids like screens that are darker, while some like screens that are lighter. 

  • Help kids try using a sensory tool or fidget, like a squishy ball, during the live video lesson.

5. Remembering key points

Kids may have trouble remembering what happened in a live video lesson. They may say things like “I forgot what we talked about.” Or they may get stuck when working on the lesson’s assignment. Let kids know that together you’ll figure out the best way to help them learn the material.

What can help: 

  • Encourage kids to take notes during the lesson. Use sticky notes to jot down key points, or try a note-taking tool. Kids who have trouble with this kind of multitasking can ask to review the teacher’s notes after the lesson.

  • Ask kids to write, type, draw, or tell you key points after the lesson.

  • Help kids watch a recording or read a transcript of the lesson. Encourage them to take notes or make study tools like flashcards. 

Download a one-page version of these tips

This printable is available in English and Spanish.

Live video lessons: Challenges and ways to help (English)PDF - 25.4 KB

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Live video lessons: Challenges and ways to help (Spanish)PDF - 26.1 KB

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