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Saturday, July 04, 2020

5 tips for parents navigating online learning with their kids

Parents are suddenly facing a situation, where they are managing their work from home, taking care of housework as well as helping their children with their education.

Updated: June 23, 2020 12:03:32 pm
online learning, parenting tips Digital education has become the new normal. (Source: Getty images)

By Achin Bhattacharyya

The present situation that we are going through is certainly one of the worst crises that humans have ever gone through and by far the worst that we have witnessed during our lifetime. Every major habitat around the world, irrespective of its socio economic conditions and the presence of state of the art healthcare facilities is still suffering. The count only grows each day, with no immediate resumption of normalcy in sight. Healthcare workers, police, and different government agencies are at the frontline and are doing their best to protect us.

Schools are shut for a long time, but schooling is on. Since children cannot travel to seek education, education has come to their doorstep in a much bigger way. Digital education, which has been around for quite some time as a supplement to Chalk and Talk pedagogy, has suddenly become the new normal. Parents are suddenly facing a situation, where they are managing their work from home, taking care of housework as well as helping their children with their education.

However, amid all these problems, one of the brighter aspects is the amount of time that parents are getting to spend with their children. In fact, they are getting to know a lot more about the day to day challenges that children face in their studies. Parents have suddenly stepped into the shoes of educators and thus successfully navigating online learning has become important to ensure optimum utilisation of available resources.

Here are a few tips that may come in handy.

Patience is very important to ensure conceptual clarity

It is very important to devote adequate time to get the basics clear as only once you ensure conceptual clarity of a particular topic the road ahead will be smooth. Peer pressure of someone breathing down your neck in the classroom sometimes acts as a deterrent for a child to learn at his or her own pace. However, every child has a unique learning curve. In online digital platforms, you have the option of spending as much time as you want on a particular topic, till you have absolute conceptual clarity.

Read| Should kids be sent back to schools? Three parents share their lockdown fears

In digital portals, the focus is mostly on getting the building blocks in place. The objective is to equip the student with important core concepts, so as to give him the confidence to embark on a journey of self-exploration. The parents’ role is very important in terms of being patient and motivating the child to work on the fundamental concepts.

Make the whole experience engaging

Digital content is normally far more engaging than normal chalk and talk experience in the classroom because of the extensive use of audio visual aids like illustrations, music, animation, etc.

However, parents also have a major role in not letting monotony and boredom set in. Keep shuffling between different subjects and topics so as to ensure that the interest level doesn’t dip. Studying any particular subject or topic continuously can be quite taxing for your child. Further, focus on building the interest level for a particular topic by showing interest builder videos of any particular topic.

During the last few months we have got thousands of queries and feedback from parents and most of these are with regard to the interest-building portion of any particular topic, that shows the levels of engagement. Once a particular student gets interested in a particular topic, the job of the parent will become much easier.

Focus on takeaways and keep practicing

It is not about the number of hours spent, it is about the takeaways from a particular session, thus it is very important that the recap section of the content be given adequate importance. Whether it is your classroom at school or digital lessons at home the basic ways of learning will never change, please take notes so as to focus on your takeaways from a particular lesson.

Read| Digital storytelling for children can give wings to their imagination

The importance of this is not restricted to exams alone. When we study a particular topic, there are a few key points that we naturally focus on. The job of a good teacher is to curate that experience and ensure that focus is on the right portions. Whether it’s classroom or online, the basics of education will never change, thus the parent must ensure that children take adequate notes in their own language which will act as an aid to memory in future.

Most digital content is edited sharply and gives your child a very quick grip in terms of covering the topic from a macro perspective. Online platforms give children the opportunity to practice in a faceless environment wherein they are not judged by anyone. It’s wonderful to compete only with yourself and trying to improve each day. In the process, by working closely with your child you will discover his or her strengths and developmental needs which you can jointly work on. The best part of any well made self-study portal is that it offers an immersive experience of knowing yourself, which is almost like meditating.

Be careful with open source content

Unless the content is mapped to syllabus, there is always a risk of it being for a separate age group of students. A topic like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar may be taught at various levels starting from class 10 to Masters, naturally the level of in-depth coverage and the intent of covering it in syllabus may vary considerably.

Thus parental supervision is absolutely necessary while studying from any open source platform where children have uncontrolled access to a variety of content which can be uploaded by anyone anywhere. Going through customised and curated content which is specifically designed by a reliable edtech portal for your child’s requirement, is much safer as it takes into account various factors like age, degree of mental maturity, requirements of the syllabus, etc.

Have fun

Many of the lifestyle changes that the current situation has brought in are involuntary, however it is very important to keep a cheerful disposition while studying together with your children and keep a positive attitude. This will help your child to cope much better with the present crisis as they are also missing their old lifestyle which includes going to school, meeting friends and a host of fun-filled outdoor activities.

Spending so much time with them and being able to take an active part in their studies was something unimaginable even a few months back. However, your involvement in their little world and trying to navigate the challenges together will surely boost their confidence by leaps and bounds and create memories for a lifetime.

(The writer is Founder & CEO of Notebook.)

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