Virtual learning, teaching, instruction, whatever you want to call it, is hard. H-A-R-D hard! I don’t need to list out the thousand reasons why. We are experiencing it first hand. It’s hard for us and it’s hard for our learners.

Especially challenging for us as instructors was planning highly engaging and interactive lessons for our littlest learners who are just on the go all the time. We serve learners through young adults, so lovingly refer to our youngest ones as our “littles.”

How could we capture their attention and plan the lesson in a way that as closely as possible simulates our on site services which are play based with a ton of movement activities, and gives them a chance to learn and practice new skills??

We piloted our Virtual Playdate program in April. I cannot believe the next thing I am going to type, but in the blink of an eye, we are now almost 7 months in. It really is shocking how much time has passed, which somehow simultaneously feels like an eternity and also the blink of an eye. I’ll refrain from going down the pandemic rabbit hole, as I anticipate you know exactly what I mean.

7 months in, we are now a well oiled machine! Our virtual meetings have a replicable structure and routine, which includes all the critical components I identified as being responsible for the success and effectiveness of our on site/in person programs.

Looks like today’s theme is Monsters! Parents got the info in advance and have already hidden a monster in their child’s “zoom room” as well as printed the monster book so we are good to go!


Here are 7 tips for increasing engagement, interaction & participation:

  1. Parents/Caregivers as teammates & teachers – support parents in supporting their children to get the most benefit from the session. What are your expectations of them as facilitators or prompters?
  2. Incorporate music & movement (thank you YouTube)
  3. Use Props & other Tangible Items Support parents/caregivers in identifying related props around the house for the child as well and use accessible toys children have at home such as (pots/pans/instruments, blanket for parachute play, ball, vehicles, playdough, blocks, etc)
  4. Use Visuals (we create all lessons in google slides to present screen share during session)
  5. Use children’s photos (personalize the slides by adding their faces to chairs on your circle time slide or adding them in silly places like on pumpkins to increase interest & attention)
  6. Incorporate choice making and sharing preferences (give opportunities for children to call out, join in, share ideas and take ownership over their class and learning whenever possible)
  7. Follow a consistent routine to increase independence

Hey, where is everybody!? It’s Circle Time! Animating children’s photos to appear in the seats on click is a fun way to increase attending to screen, learning to recognize self and peers’ names as well as opportunities to expand and embed many more language targets!

Interested in learning more about how you can amp up the fun and effectiveness of your virtual instruction for preschoolers?

Check out Virtual Instruction for Preschoolers Webinar

Check out our entire playdate curriculum which includes google slide templates for each lesson, printable activity to send home and recorded version of the lesson to support your implementation. There are currently 60 lessons with new lessons added each week!

Working with older learners but struggling with the same question of how to increase engagement, interaction and participation? You may be interested in the following webinars:

Have a preschooler you think would benefit from participating in one of our programs. We love making new friends and invite you to fill out and submit the application