hat is Virtual Learning?
If you are familiar with Byju's constant virtual learning app ads on the TV then you must be aware that virtual learning happens through the virtual platform where kids have a login ID and password to have access to the learning platform. Kids are not new to logging into apps and websites as they usually play virtual games and are familiar with these bits.
100% Online Schools, what is this?
For many parents, this may be their first experience with their child learning in a completely online setting. While there are some differences between traditional schooling and virtual learning, most of the parenting tips for success remain the same.Online schools work very similar to how physical schools work like having a class teacher, assembly time, etc. The only difference is everything happens from the comfort of your home or wherever you are living at present. Read my previous newsletters to know more about the virtual schools and how they work.
The shift from traditional schools to a complete online school can take some time and a lot of effort from the parents to make it successful but keeping few things in mind will help parents achieve this smoothly. I have listed few steps that I try personally, hope this helps you as well.
How to make Virtual Learning successful for kids as a parent?
1. Establish a routine - Just like with any other form of schooling, it's important to create and stick to a routine for your child during virtual learning. This will help them stay focused and on track. This will automatically be established as the class will start at the same time every day and hence kids will be required to be ready.
Try to build as much structure and consistency as possible, setting times for meals, schoolwork, and other activities are also very important. Set aside some time for learning in the evening with your kid without the screen, and let kids sit with books, paper, and pencils as well.
2. Fixing a study space- Kids should have a proper place to do their sessions, where they can sit every day. Changing stations every day can bring distraction so having a comfortable place to sit where there is less distraction can help children concentrate better. When kids have a particular place set for studying, they can keep their books and stationery items in an accessible place so that their brain is set accordingly. Most importantly, kids should clean up after work is done. Just because they have parents around they should leave their things messed up for their parents to clean up later.
3. Be available for support - Be available to offer support when needed, whether that's through online chats or phone calls. It might be too much for kids to check and follow instructions, so pitching in when they need help is important.
4. Encourage independence - In a virtual learning setting, your child will be expected to be more independent than in a traditional school. Encourage them to take the lead in their learning and ask for help when needed. You will see your child blossom as a self-learner, figuring out to do things on their own and finding solutions.
5. Be patient - One of the biggest advantages of virtual learning is that it allows for more flexibility and personalized instruction. This can take some time to get used to, so be patient as your child adjusts.
You would have already experienced virtual learning during the pandemic, you would have realized how schools functions, and how classes are conducted and you know the teaching methods now as you get to observe the teacher anytime you want, so don't judge every step taken by the teacher. If you have concerns raise them appropriately when the teacher meets you.
6. Celebrate successes - Just like with any other form of schooling, it's important to celebrate your child's successes along the way. Be sure to take the time to congratulate them on their hard work and accomplishments. This will help keep them motivated and encouraged as they continue their virtual learning journey.
They are missing a pat on their shoulders or that eye contact in the camera but it can be fulfilled by the parents by being there for them to celebrate those little moments of joy that they are sharing with you.
7. Understand the importance of Breaks- We must not forget that children need good, peaceful breaks from the screen. Most online schools do provide 10 mins break between the sessions. Make sure kids move away from the screen to look away and go out of the room for some time. According to Linda Carling, an associate research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education "A young child may need a quick break after staying on a task for five to 25 minutes"
After the online classes kids must play outside, that's why encourage kids to play outside if they have friends in the neighborhood. Enrolling students in sports classes in the evening is also a great idea for them to be able to have good physical exercise. There are many other options like cycling, skating, running, playing badminton or gully cricket, etc.
8. Planning the entire routine with your kid is very important- When kids are involved in the process of learning they are accountable for their suggestions, let kids decide how they would like to plan their day of the course with your guidance. They can decide how they would balance their playtime and study time or reading time. You shouldn't ask the kids to sit for home-works anytime randomly, this way kids will show some resistance as they might not be in the mood to study at random hours.
9. Be in touch with the teachers - Most online schools arrange for the parent's teachers to meet regularly, you must attend these sessions and take feedback from the teachers. Don't shy away from sharing your concerns and suggesting ideas that may help to make the classes better. According to Carling, "Teachers can help with more than we think. And they are usually willing to help. So if any of the issues come up, if a child's not able to attend a class, if the child is unable to complete the work, if it's really hard to get a routine set up, all those kinds of things are areas that a teacher can help with."
10. Set the Ergonomics right-If you plan to continue virtual classes, Kids should be provided with a space where they have enough light, they should have a chair that is comfortable for them. Don't encourage the kid to lie down on the bed or sofa while doing the sessions. They should sit upright, with their hands and head rested well. The screen should not be too bright, the fonts should not be too small for them. They should have enough leg space or something to rest their legs if their feet do not touch the floor due to tall chairs.
What to avoid as parents during the online sessions?
- Don't assign a task for kids during the sessions like asking them to help you with your chores or attending to the doorbell.
- Don't Interrupt the teachers - Many parents tend to correct the teacher right in the middle of the session, this way you are disrespecting the teachers. Take appointments to share your concerns with the teachers after class.
- Avoid making noise during the sessions- Try not to take phone calls from the same room where kids are studying, this will distract them. Also watching TV and playing music loudly can disturb the kids.
- Avoid offering food between the sessions- Don't offer food to the kids during the sessions, not only will it distract them but it's also risky to the gadgets they are using.
- Inform the guests about the sessions- Since you have chosen to have classes in the house, you must respect that decision. Remember to inform the guests that the child will be attending the session and they would need privacy.
- Don't plan outings between the sessions- Plan your shopping after the classes. Attending sessions from cars can disturb the kids and discourage them to participate in the sessions seriously.
Practice these steps to help kids create a positive environment at home. Our responsibility as parents is to give that comfort to kids. It's very similar to how adults working from home need their space to do their work and cooperation from family members to support them and understand that this is a new culture. We all need to respect the new ways of learning and support each other in the best way possible to create that balance.
It's a great idea to work when your kid is working so that they understand that you both have your schedule, but don't have meetings in the same room as your kid that might disturb both of you.
Some days might not go well as planned and it's ok to bend sometimes and adjust to the situation just like it happens in schools when the screen is not working or a teacher is late, so kids will learn to adjust and adapt to the disruptions accordingly.
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