Taking Online Classes: How To Help Your Child Learn From Home

The Covid-19 lockdown has forced children to shift towards taking online classes. Follow our tips for online classes to help your child make most of online learning.

By Arun Sharma

Taking Online Classes: How To Help Your Child Learn From Home

As a parent, I felt quite happy when I received a message from my children’s school that they will be taking online classes during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In fact, I could only think about the positive aspects of my children learning from home such as no disruption in their daily routine, no break in their learning process and assignments keeping them engaged. And, how blissfully wrong I was!

I realised within 3–4 days that, without our help, taking online classes wasn’t going to be easy for my children. For, every day, after her classes were over, my daughter would come to me with some or the other problem. The first day she complained about bad video quality, a day later she fussed about slow Internet speed, the next day she grumbled about an inappropriate message from a classmate.

Almost every child and parent are facing a similar situation. Let’s look at how what we can do to tackle the challenges remote learning is throwing up.

Remote learning: How to overcome problems related to technology

  • Assemble everything and familiarise: Once the school intimates you about what your child needs to attend the online class, get everything together. For example, download the online learning software, connect the headphone, adjust the volume and the camera, and create a folder to save the recordings of the online classes. Your child may be good in handling smartphones and computers, but that doesn’t mean he knows anything about taking online classes. So, if possible, download the online learning software and guide your child towards creating a login for himself. Tell him about the various features and how to use them.
  • Run a test: Children are most comfortable when they know what to do and how to do. So, once everything is ready, try to do a dry run. For example, you can pretend to be the teacher and send your child an invite to attend the class. Guide her on how to connect and attend the class.
  • Cut down cybersecurity risks: Increasing use of online resources makes your child vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. So, teach your child the precautions he should take while browsing and how he can navigate the various content, conduct, and contact risks. For example, encourage your child to use precise search terms while searching online, so she is able to find the information she needs without being exposed to potentially inappropriate images, websites, or people. Also, emphasise to your child to be polite and mindful, and follow the rules set by the teacher for online classes.

Remote learning: How to make it easy for your child

  • Plan in advance: Ensure you are on top of your child’s time-table. Print and stick it on your child’s study table or write it on her whiteboard. This way, you will be able to tell your child in advance about her expected routine, and give her time to prepare herself mentally.
  • Create a learning environment: In school, your child has a specific classroom where he has a fixed place to sit and study. Try to re-create a similar space for taking online classes at home. You can place his study table and chair in his bedroom or any other room, but it should be a quiet and comfortable space, and without distractions. However, dissuade your child from studying in bed, as it may make him feel sleepy or lazy. Also, keep the environment at home happy and supportive, to motivate your child to learn.
  • Begin together: Online learning is a new concept for schoolchildren. So, for the first few days, sit with your child while he is learning from home. This way, you will be able to monitor how your child is doing, help him learn to focus his attention on what’s being taught, and solve any problem related the curriculum. A few days later, when your child is all set, you can leave him to be on his own.
  • Combine the new with the old: For children taking online classes, the assignments are sent either via email or through messaging platforms. Instead of allowing your child to read the assignment papers from the screen device, you can print them out. Ask your child to write the answers on the printed page. This way, you can prevent the overuse of screen device by your child.
  • Encourage taking notes and listing the doubts: In the classroom, students raise their hand to ask doubts during a class. However, while taking online classes, the teacher often disables the chat facility available in the software. So, while the class is on, tell your child to take notes and make a list of her doubts. She can clear those by communicating with the teacher once the session is over. This will also make your child pay attention to what is being taught.
  • Encourage interaction with the teacher/peers: In a classroom, children interact with each other and the teachers. This keeps them enthused and motivated. So, encourage your child to interact with his teachers and peers whenever the opportunity presents — such as towards the end of the session or during a discussion.
  • Respect privacy: When learning from home, you may be tempted to monitor your child to see how she is doing in online classes. However, she may resent this; she may not like her parents overhearing her conversation with her teacher. Understand that, at times, your child feels uneasy in your presence; allow her a reasonable degree of privacy when she is attending classes or studying.

Remote learning: How parents can cope with the challenges

  • Stay calm: The Covid-19 crisis has changed our way of life. Every family member is locked up at home, and going through almost the same daily routine. Anxiety about the future, boredom and frustration, increased workload of helping your child can make you feel stressed. However, there are may ways of relieving your stress and staying calm like taking in deep breaths or moving to another room for some time. By staying calm, you will be able to communicate well and better understand your child’s problem.
  • Accept the change: Most of us find it difficult to accept change, and it is the same with the Covid-19 crisis as well. However, it is a fact that we are at home with our children, and when they need help, they will turn to us. Accept this fact, instead of feeling annoyed when your child comes to you with some of the other issue. Take it as an opportunity to forge a bond/partnership and have meaningful conversations with your child. Also, focus on what you can change (for example, your daily routine) and what you can’t (for example, going out as a family).
  • Talk to the teacher: While it is possible for parents to help children of lower classes with studies, it may not be so for children in higher classes. If your child is facing problems with studies, and you can’t help him, do not hesitate to get in touch with his teachers, for they are the best guides.
  • Keep in touch with other parents: Connect with parents of other children to discuss ways to make online learning a better experience for your child. Stay in touch with the teachers to appraise them of any problem your child is facing, to seek their help with studies and to know how your child is doing in online classes.
  • Go back to the old routine: Pre-lockdown, our daily routine consisted not only of doing several things but doing them at fixed times. But, with the introduction of the lockdown, this cycle is now broken. As a family, try to go back to the old routine. Not only would it streamline your day but also help make time to relax.

In a nutshell

  • Parents must accept the change from traditional to the remote learning, and help their child adjust with the new method
  • Both children and parents are new to remote learning, and so must overcome a few hurdles together for things to fall in place
  • Even with remote learning, parents must encourage their child to reach out to teachers and interact with them

What you can do right away

  • Assemble everything that is needed by your child for taking online classes
  • Work with your child to ease her into remote learning. This will make taking online classes an effective and positive experience for the child
  • Enter into communication with the teacher and other parents to discuss and address any issues

About the author:
Written by Arun Sharma on 30 June 2020.
The author was associated with the healthcare industry before becoming a full-time writer and editor. A doting father to two preteens, he believes in experiential learning for his children. Also, he loves mountain trekking and nature trips

About the expert:
Reviewed by Meghna Singhal, PhD, on 30 June 2020.
Dr. Singhal is the Manager, Global Content Solutions at ParentCircle. She has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from NIMHANS (Bangalore) and holds a post-doctorate in parenting from the University of Queensland (Australia).

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