We’ve all had to deal with change and uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, but young children have perhaps had it the hardest of all.
Although kids are extremely adaptable, this year has asked a lot of them. Not only have they had to deal with schools being intermittently closed and not seeing their friends or extended family for long periods, but they’ve also had to adjust to doing the bulk of their learning online.
Online learning is nothing new. Schools have gradually been working towards a more tech-based curriculum for some time. However, due to the nature of the pandemic, most education facilities have had to adapt very quickly, and not all of were equipped with the IT infrastructure or staffing to make it a smooth transition.
Parents and online learning: how to support your child
As a parent, you may be struggling with the demands of online learning, or perhaps is your child finding it difficult to adapt. Whatever the situation where you live, your child’s curriculum is bound to rely more on virtual connection, so how can you best support them with this change?
If your child sees you responding with stress and dread towards their homework or online learning responsibilities, it’s going to foster a negative approach in them too. This is an uncertain time, and no parent is perfect, but if you can approach your child’s education with empathy, calm and understanding, they are more likely to approach their work in a positive manner and find it easier to open up to you about their struggles.
Create a (flexible) routine
All children need routine, even if they kick back against it. However, one of the benefits of online learning is that your child can work at their own pace rather than following the timeline set by a teacher. Forcing them to complete their work at an inconvenient time may make them resent it rather than enjoying it. If your child is old enough, sit them down and work out a plan together.
Most importantly, you should create a routine that works for you and your child, and don’t give yourself a hard time if it doesn’t always go to plan. Routines can be helpful to follow, but they must also allow for the flexibility of family life, especially at a time when so much is already uncertain and strange.
Keep in touch with your child's teacher
Make sure you’re in contact with your child’s teacher and that you understand their expectations when it comes to completing and handing in work. You should also ask your child’s teacher about any learning outcomes and goals your child needs to meet. They may be able to help work with you to help your child if they are struggling with online learning.
Learning of any kind should take place in short bursts for young children, with plenty of time to play, refuel and rest in-between. Older school children may work for longer, but in general, they should not exceed 30-50 minutes of solid work at a time without a break.
It can be difficult to be there for your child if you have responsibilities of your own. Perhaps you’re working from home, or maybe you have other family members to take care of. Regardless, your child will work better if they feel supported, so let them know when you are there and able to help them.
At the end of each day (or week if that’s more manageable) try to put aside time to sit down with your child and reflect on what they’ve learned, what they enjoyed and any challenges that they faced. Try to make sure your child doesn’t feel like this is you “checking up on them”, and that you’re just trying to make sure they have what they need.
Parents and caregivers, how do you ensure your child is supported through online learning? Leave your comments below.