COVID-19 has changed the way that society works, plays, and communicates. Whether it’s setting up the home office to connect to the workplace network, leveraging video conferencing to communicate with family and friends, or going on virtual tours of art galleries, society has found new ways to use – and appreciate – what the internet brings into the home.
One key area where the internet has been critical over these last few months is in education. For centuries education has been an in-person, classroom environment experience for most. Suddenly, most of society has needed to shift to remote teaching and distance learning, and this has had some interesting effects on how kids learn.
Parents are getting more involved
For the most part, parents have been interested in their children’s progress through school, but they’ve largely been relying on semi-regular catch-ups with teachers and report cards to understand their challenges and successes.
With homeschooling, even when the student is “tapping in” to online resources, classroom lectures and even virtual music lessons, parents (even those who are themselves working from home) have been able to observe their child’s behavior and approach to learning. As one recent report found, this has often been surprising, and a very positive experience for all involved.
Many are finding that as important as schools are, students are also quite capable of independent learning, especially in areas that interest them. The report found that only ten percent of children struggled with home learning, and 43 percent found that they were coping well with it. Of those that were experiencing difficulties, as it turns out, with home learning, there are more resources available across both parents and teachers to understand why and move to address it.
In other words, for years the education system has struggled to find ways to engage parents with the learning process. With rising rates of dual-income families, the perception was always there that no one had time to show the level of interest in education that a child might need. With COVID-19, that perception has experienced almost a full 180-degree turn.
Finding success with home learning
Of course, home learning does need to be approached differently to a standard classroom environment, because the experience is completely different. There are many good ideas out there on how to optimize the remote learning experience, but some of the key strategies to keep in mind are:
- Maintain balance: Research shows that people tend to work more when they’re doing so out of a home office and away from the workplace. The temptation is there for education to follow the same track, but the time spent studying is often a case of diminishing returns – the longer you cram, the less you take in and the less effective sessions are. Remember that the school day is broken into many micro-breaks (changing classrooms for the next lesson), as well as food and recreation breaks. And the typical day is shorter than full employment.
- Find socialization opportunities: A big part of the school experience is in the socialization. Encourage groups to get together over Zoom to chat, or even play games outside of class time. It’s not exactly the same as the playground, but it gets the job done.
- Exercise: Those lunch breaks during the day are more than just an opportunity to eat. They’re longer than the time needed for that because they’re an opportunity to stretch legs, flex, and play. Build some time into the day for that.
Keep the teachers involved
As a final note: under your watchful eye, it can be tempting to try and wrest control from lessons from the teachers, either by overriding them or simply cutting them out of the education process. Don’t do this.
It’s important that teachers are still seen as the authority, as they have specific lesson plans and are targeting the best results for your child as possible. It’s certainly a good idea to encourage additional learning, but make sure that you’re still engaging closely with your child’s educators and that what you’re doing is aligned to those lesson plans.