The ‘new normal’ brought on by these unprecedented times is a foreign concept for all of us including students, teachers and parents. Technological platforms have come to the rescue in the form of ‘online school’ to ensure that our child’s learning doesn’t take a backseat
The school teachers are primary educators of children but in the virtual set up, parents need to step up to become facilitators for learning. Although, it is an added responsibility on us, our active and whole-hearted participation is vital for child’s progress.
Here are some tips to maximize the learning from online classes
Before the class
1.HEED TO PHYSICAL NEEDS: Make sure your child is well fed, has had water, attended nature’s call and is wearing comfortable clothes before you log in.
2. CREATE CONDUCIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: Designate an area at home for online class, free from distractions with their stationary and other supplies ready for the session. Avoid sitting on the bed during the class as bed is associated with sleep and the child may lose focus/attention.
3. BUILD CURIOSITY: If you have an idea of the topics that are going to be covered in the upcoming class, dodge some curiosity questions pertaining to the topic. E.g.: When you know that teacher is going to take up lessons on ‘amphibians’ or ‘life cycle of a frog’, you could ask questions like “What are amphibians? or “ What does a baby frog look like? Let’s find out.” Such questions evoke curiosity and the child would focus on the class, seeking for the answers. Hence the learning is absorbed deeply.
During the Class
4. REDIRECTING ATTENTION: Let’s have realistic expectations from our children. Younger ones have a short attention span and are bound to get distracted even in a 30 minutes session. Once distracted, we try to get their attention by saying “Pay attention” or “ listen to what teacher is saying.” Let’s be honest, this doesn’t work. On the contrary, children are more interested in their friends than the teachers, and enjoy school for their friends and not really for the learning aspects. So what works for me is if I find my child getting distracted, I show them their friends on the side view and say ‘hey look at X or Y’ and children are back to the screen and eventually to the class (always works for me). Note: It is not comparing any aspect of their friends’ but just drawing the child’s attention to them.
5. ENCOURAGE TAKING TURNS: Encourage children to raise their hand when they want to speak up or answer. This teaches them to take turns and patiently wait for their turn.
6. FOSTER INTRINSIC MOTIVATION: Sometimes children could get upset when they are not given a chance to answer. In this scenario, encourage them to still answer (while being on mute). This will satisfy their intrinsic desire to answer rather than to rely on extrinsic validation (like a praise from the teacher).
7. EMPOWER YOUR CHILD: When the child is faced by a question from the teacher and isn’t answering, refrain from endlessly repeating the question (unless you think your child hasn’t heard the question) or going on with ‘tell the answer, tell the answer,…’ Rather give a choice by asking “Do you want to answer the question?” This empowers the child.
8. ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENT LEARNING: Finally, DO NOT PROMPT the answer to your child. We may think we’re helping our child but we’re doing the exact opposite. Let the child think, let them explore, let them get the answer wrong, only then will they learn to learn independently. By prompting and giving away the answers, the child may even stop thinking and look at you for the answers, an easy way out. Making this a habit strips off the child’s inert ability to learn and succeed independently. And what will happen when the regular school starts! We won’t be there to help them out or prompt. It’s not about the child getting the answer right, it’s purely about learning. That’s what we’re in the school for.
After the Class
9. REVISION: Try to revise in a play-way method. Pretend-play works the best wherein you become the student and your child becomes a teacher and teaches you what they have learnt.
10. MODEL THE BEHAVIOUR: Children watch our attitude and behavior towards online classes and tend to reflect our behavior. When we show excitement and interest, we can expect similar enthusiasm from children too. Avoid making statements like “ How cumbersome online class has become!”, “ I’m bored of online class and waiting for school to reopen” or any such statements that put online class in negative light, around children. This could fuel the thoughts in children that there’s something is amiss in online classes which in turn could hamper their online learning experience.
11. SET A ROUTINE: A routine allows the child to expect what is coming up next. With structure, children are better prepared to sit in a class. Even on days when there are no class, let that particular time be utilized for assignments or revisions. E.g.: If child has sessions thrice a week on alternate days at 10am, then let the child do some school related work on non-school days at 10am.
12.COMMUNICATE WITH TEACHERS: Seek support from teachers when in doubt, after all, these things are new for us, we haven’t been trained to be professional educators. Likewise, when faced with problems or discontent, let the teachers know. Virtual classrooms are new concept for teachers too. Parents and teachers need to work as a team for optimal virtual learning experience in children.
This too shall pass and while we hang on for normalcy to return, let us make online learning a comfortable one for us and our children.
This blog is written by our parent Dr Janice Morais. She is proud mother of Twins Kaitlyn and Kyrion. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to followup on this article.