Taking online classes: What parents can do to help their children learn from home
Arun Sharma 7 Mins Read
The shift to online learning during the pandemic has created challenges for parents and children alike. Here's how you can help your child-and yourself-thrive in this new environment
As a parent, I felt quite happy when my children's school notified us that classes will be held online 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 regular assignments to keep them engaged. But how blissfully wrong I was!
I realized 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 problem or other. 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.
As most parents and children are in a similar situation, let's look at how we can tackle the challenges of remote learning.
Remote learning: How to overcome problems related to technology
- Familiarize your child with the technology: Once the school informs 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 at handling smartphones and computers, but that doesn't mean he knows everything about online classes. So, if possible, download the online learning software, familiarize him with its various features and show your child how to sign in or click the meeting link.
- Run a test: Children are most comfortable when they know what to do and how to do it. 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, introduce your child to internet safety precautions and make him aware of various content, conduct and contact risks. For example, encourage your child to use precise search terms while searching online so that she finds the information she needs without being exposed to potentially inappropriate images, websites or people. Also, remind your child to be polite, and follow the rules set by the teacher for online classes.
Remote learning: How to make it easy for your child
- Create a learning environment: In school, your child has a specific classroom where he occupies the same seat every day. Try to recreate 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, 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 can monitor how your child is doing, help him learn to focus on what's being taught, and solve any problem related to 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 assignments on the device, print them out. Ask your child to write the answers on the printed page. This way, you can prevent the overuse of screens by your child.
- Ask your child to note down her questions: In the classroom, students raise their hands to ask questions when in doubt during a class. However, when giving online lessons, the teacher often disables the chat facility available in the software. So, tell your child to write down her questions when the class is on. Once the session is over, she can ask those questions. 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 itself-such as toward the end of the session or during a discussion.
- Respect privacy: When your child is learning from home, you may be tempted to monitor her to see if she's attentive or participating in discussions. If you do so, she may resent your behavior-she may not like her parents overhearing her conversation with her teacher. Sometimes your child may feel uneasy in your presence; so allow her a reasonable degree of privacy when she's 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, and the increased workload of helping your child can make you feel stressed. However, there are many ways of relieving your stress and staying calm, like taking deep breaths or moving to another room for some time. By staying calm, you'll be able to communicate well and better understand your child's problem.
- Accept the change: Most of us find it difficult to accept change. 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 a problem. Take it as an opportunity to forge a bond and have meaningful conversations with your child. Also, focus on what you can change (e.g., your daily routine) and what you can't (e.g., 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 study problems but 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 apprise 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 will it streamline your day but also help make time to relax.
In a nutshell
- Parents must accept the change from traditional to remote learning, and help their child adjust to the new method of learning.
- 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 children 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 your child.
- Communicate with teachers and other parents to discuss and address any issues.