Online learning: tips for parents |22 January 2022
This week, Seychelles NATION published an article under the heading ‘Online schooling: when parents say it’s too much’. Many parents reached out to us, thanking us for putting their views and concerns out there and also are happy that schools are resuming ‘face to face’. With the ongoing pandemic we never know when school will go back virtually and we contacted Dinah William, provisional psychologist at the National Council for Children (NCC), to enlighten us more on this subject.
Seychelles NATION would like to wish all the children, the teachers and the management of schools best of luck, keep observing the health guidelines and be safe! Do not forget to also have fun with your friends.
Starting the year with another possibility of virtual schooling brings many challenges for both parents and children. For many working parents the concern is how safe their child will be alone at home? Can the child be trusted to follow the online learning modules assigned by their class teacher? Many parents would agree that schools are safe places and hence they worry less when their children are at school. However, there are many benefits associated with home schooling and online learning and while it lasts we could all benefit from it in one way or another.
Teacher or parent?
Online learning involves parents taking on the role of the teacher especially in the case of the younger children whereby communications from the teachers or schools, such as printouts and instructions, are sent to the parent/guardian. However, being a teacher requires special skills and expertise. Your role as a parent/guardian is to support your child during this period and when required seek professional advice and guidance from the teacher.
What are some of the disadvantages of online learning?
Lack of face-to-face interaction: As social beings, face-to-face interactions are very important especially for younger children. Making friends, exchanging conversations, sharing and playing with each other are some of the skills that children need to acquire from a very young age. Lack of or limited interactions between and among children and adults could result in the development of mental problems such as depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Increased anxiety and stress: The uncertainties of the pandemic, disruptions to routines and changes to the learning methods and delivery of lessons may create a sense of isolation which may lead to an increase in the stress level among children. Moreover, some children may find it hard to adapt to the changes and disruptions to their routines, which unless communicated and properly explained, may lead to misbehaviour as a way of challenging parental authority.
Lack of motivation: Parents need to make remote or home learning a priority during an allocated time of the day otherwise the children will continue to think they are on holiday. Some children may not feel motivated to study or may not possess the drive to attempt the class work assigned to them or may even find excuses to not follow the online classes. Home is the place where children feel comfortable to do what they love and motivating them to ‘associate’ home with school adds an extra pressure on parents, especially if they are not there to monitor their child during the day. Even if virtual classes go as planned at home, there is always the possibility that children may not concentrate as well as they would do in a class setting.
Technological issues and screen fatigue: Technology brings additional cost and extra challenges. Firstly, children need to be able to manipulate the gadgets. They also need to acquaint themselves with the programmes that each teacher is using. Coupled with this, there are always the unexpected ‘setbacks’ that make classes not run as smoothly as they should. Additionally, it is not a secret that too much screen time leads to screen fatigue and can cause other health problems such as headaches, poor posture, eye problems and obesity.
What are some advantages of online learning?
Whether we like it or not, our children need to learn how to manipulate electronic devices and what better time to get them acquainted with the ethics of virtual meetings and the different software available? Remember, your child will use these new skills throughout his or her life. Some advantages include:
Reduced incidents of bullying – Due to a lack of physical interactions, issues such as bullying will be greatly reduced during virtual learning. It is easier to ‘block’ someone online than ignore a person you see every day at school.
Breadth and self-pacing – For tech-savvy children who love working alone, this is a great time for them to advance in their studies with the support of their parent and the guidance of his or her teacher. They can use electronic devices to their advantage by exploring a variety of topics, do their own research using multiple online options and share their learning with their teachers within a short timescale.
Comfort – Studying at home means your child can accommodate his or her timetable according to his or her preferences. They can learn from a comfortable sofa, bedroom or home space. The flexibility and independent study time also means that they can also indulge in other things safely within the comfort of their home.
Making Learning fun – If parents are able to stay at home with their child, they could explore ways of making the learning fun and engaging. Both can benefit greatly from discussions about learning and school related issues. Joint study time can also be a great bonding time through fun activities such as role-play, board games and playing word games and quizzes.
Tips for engaging in virtual learning?
Set up a practical home workspace: Always have a specific space for your children to do their homework, study and learning related activities. Younger children will enjoy working at a kitchen or dining table but older children may want to use a desk and comfy chair. Give them the freedom to decorate their learning space using their favourite colours and styles that keep them happy and comfortable. Remove access to other distractions on electronic gadgets using passwords and lock systems especially during ‘school hours’.
Maintain contact with your child’s teacher – Some children may register for the virtual class but may not be engaging in the session. You can monitor their participation, as a parent, by keeping in touch with their teacher. Most phones, laptops, and other mobile devices have built-in assistive technology that can help you monitor the activities of your child online.
Establish a set routine and a learning plan: Although virtual learning allows for flexible learning, a well planned timetable will ensure that your child has a fruitful day studying and doing things that s/he loves. At the end of each day, always check on how their learning has gone, giving praise and rewards where necessary, reinforcing rules and making amendments to the timetable if needed.
Remove learning barriers: Discuss some of the difficulties you child is having with his or her teacher. If you can, provide your child with the electronic gadget that they prefer and is more comfortable with. Use built-in systems such as read aloud or text-to-speech if your child is a struggling reader and speech-to-text for struggling writers. There are many features on different devices that can help your child access digital content and you must select the ones that fit your child’s needs and preferences.
Set goals in your child’s learning – There may be certain topics, subjects or times of the day with which your child may struggle. When this happens, make time to sit with your child and set some achievable goals for you to tackle these challenges together. For example, if your child is falling behind on their reading, set a daily reading time for the whole family. Establishing family study together time will keep your child from feeling isolated and give the family a chance to spend quality time together.
Remember: If it is a challenge for your child, it is most likely to be a problem for other children too!
Contributed by Dinah William
National Council for Children (NCC)
Bel Eau, Mahé, Seychelles
Email: email@example.com Tel: 4283900