What Teachers Want You To Know About Online Learning For Kids
Most schools will resume this week for Term 2 but the way they will operate is completely new for most of us. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic many schools across Australia have been shut down and will work online to keep classes running for their students.
If you’re a parent whose children will be starting school this way in a few days you’re probably feeling some anxiety about how all this is going to look. Everyone’s experience will be different and unique but we all share one thing in common – the unknown.
It’s one thing helping your child with homework every now and then but it’s a completely different ball game knowing they will now be ‘going to school’ at home. While this can feel daunting to most of us, yes even to us teachers, there are some things we can do to hopefully make this a happier experience for all. I say happier because ultimately you will see that your child’s happiness will be what you will focus on. You will let go of those expectations you have of your child performing at the same level and with the same momentum as they were at ‘school’. It’s not going to happen, so the quicker we all accept that, the smoother this whole experience will be.
I spoke to a couple of teacher friends of mine who are themselves preparing for online teaching for the first time. I wanted to get some advice from them about how we as parents and educators can best prepare our children to handle this experience in the healthiest way. Here’s some advice they had:
Timetable + Checklist
“Make a timetable or checklist with the child where they have input especially around ‘brain breaks.’ Discuss what kind of activities they can do for 10 minute breaks and when they will occur. Break the day into areas of the curriculum – reading, writing, maths, art, music, PE, science, LOTE, etc,’ says long time primary teacher and literacy coordinator Jill Ridgwell.
Setting up a timetable is crucial and hopefully the school will be able to provide one for your child. If they don’t, it’s easy to set one up yourself.
‘Routine is everything where children know what the expectations are. Use platforms such as Zoom of Google Chat where kids can talk to their friends about their day and issues they encountered with set work. Encourage them to share what they have done and give positive reinforcement to their peers,’ Jill continues.
Remember, our kids are missing out on the social interaction with their friends by not physically attending school. It’s important to find ways for your child to stay connected with his or her friends. While video chat platforms are fantastic for staying in touch, not all children feel comfortable speaking to a screen, especially when there are lots of people involved. In this case, a better activity for children may be getting them to record themselves doing an activity they love and sharing it with their friends in a ‘show and tell’ type of format. A friend commented to me that her child is one that doesn’t deal well with FaceTime.
“I have already learnt through experience that my own child is not particularly comfortable talking on video chat with friends or family for example. Although I have initiated some of these video calls with his friends he said he did not like them as he doesn’t enjoy talking to a lot of people at once. As a suggestion I said he could perhaps turn his sound off and just listen to the others”, says mum of one and primary teacher Michelle Fillery.
This is great advice! Not all our kids will know how to embrace this way of connecting and learning. Much like some adults who struggle to have a video call without turning on the filters or knowing when to talk and when to listen, children will be much the same. We need to make allowances for them and be patient.
Chill Out + Breathe
For many parents this will be the first time they will undertake the role of their child’s educator. It’s important we understand what the expectations are from our children’s school so we can be better equipped to help our kids. Some advice from teachers themselves, is ‘go easy on us, we’re new to this too’. Chances are those teachers have their own kids at home trying to learn online too.
“What matters as a teacher is that both parents and students respect the norms set by teachers online. Read the information properly so you can understand the task and what is expected of you. Teachers are not trying to make parents feel inadequate. Your role is to be your child’s support, not their teacher.
The partnership between parent and teacher is still the main strength for supporting your child. By all means email your child’s teacher but remember teachers have lives too. They have families to support in online learning themselves so give them the weekends and holidays off,” says mum of two and long time primary teacher Priya.
At the end of the day we have to remember two things, one- our children will not learn at the same pace and level as they would at school and two – it doesn’t matter.
What matters during these days is:
- That our children stay happy and safe.
- That we continue to keep their lives as normal as possible in a world that is suddenly so different.
- That we don’t put too much pressure on them or on ourselves or their schools.
We’re all navigating through uncharted waters here. If you would’ve told me at the start of the year that my kids would be at home for most of the year I would’ve laughed at you and asked if you were tripping. Yet here we are. Here we all are.
So let’s be kind and gentle with each other. This won’t be forever. When we come out of all this, hopefully we will have a new sense of gratitude for everything we once took for granted,
Our kids too will come out no doubt with more tolerance and compassion after having to navigate through some truly challenging times.