How can parents support online learning?


Shaikha Latifa Al Khalifa, Co-founder & CEO of Clever Play

Kids need a strong support system to thrive in learning be it in the classroom or online. With school, work and life in general disrupted so dramatically, how are parents to cope with the demands of future learning coming sooner than expected?

Education experts often highlight the necessity of digital skills among students to train for future jobs. With schools abruptly shut down and shifted to online platforms, kids are not the only ones having to cope. Parents are challenged to quickly adapt to digital learning not only materially in terms of providing gadgets, tools and reliable internet connection but psychologically, in terms of getting into the right mindset to get a handle of the dramatic shift in learning platforms.

Most parents would agree that the goal of providing continuity to learning amidst the pandemic and keeping children engaged within the safety of home is not without challenges. In the US, more than half of parents reported challenges with distance learning. With job disruptions and uncertain public health outlook wreaking havoc, parents’ stress is compounded by time management and child care issues.

Yet, that is just one side of the picture. No matter how quick the interventions came, the fact remains the break halted most learning opportunities resulting in some backpedalling that need to be done. More important than lost hours, students lost their sense of normalcy having been separated from friends and peers. The usual outlets of sports and recreation are pretty much out of the picture for most. In other words, kids too are dealing with stress and anxiety. This is an important part of the big picture.

Recognizing struggles from both ends, how can parents best support their child’s learning in the online classroom come school opening?

Talk it out

As with any transition, kids need guidance on making sense of the situation. Let them share their fears and insecurities and validate them by sharing your own. Kids should feel like they could openly and honestly confide about their burdens and boredom. Model calm and positive attitude so children can build confidence and resilience.

Get to know the online learning platform

Protocols, processes and applications pose a considerable challenge for many parents whose digital literacy consists mainly of texting, quick emails, and exploring social media platforms. Your little ones need help navigating unfamiliar learning platforms so get familiar with learning applications used in your child’s school. Good communication and close coordination with school officials would ensure ample access to academic resources.

Set a routine

The online learning, while free from the hassles of commute, poses its own scheduling challenge. Manage time for live virtual sessions, breaks, and offline independent learning hours where students do research and performance-related tasks. Talk with your child about a workable routine consisting of wake-up time, preparation, online time, study schedule as well as breaks, exercise and recreation.

Be on the lookout for effort

While parents often regard grades as achievement gauge, school marks do not always reflect the full extent of effort kids put into their schoolwork. Take the time to observe your child’s learning habits and attitudes. Manage your expectations. One cannot always control results but they can always control effort. Reward effort with a surprise outdoor treat or a virtual trip with buddies they miss. Thriving is possible even amidst these survival-first times – staying positive and pro-active make the difficult less daunting.  

Clever Play is an online and offline STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education platform for children.

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