Many schools and colleges have embraced online learning during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is also posing a challenge to the schools, students, and their parents. Throughout this article, we will highlight methods that will ensure an effective learning experience as schools move towards online classes.
Create The Right Environment & Get The Right Tools
The first step towards making online classes effective for your kids is to have the right learning environment and the required tools. High speed internet is the first step towards creating an effective remote learning environment. A slower internet leads to a lack of productivity as students struggle to get to the material. The longer the pages need to load or the more issues students face while doing work, the less productive work will be done. Additionally, having your kid fidget and whine while waiting for a video to load is only going to add stress to the situation. To help you get a better idea of the internet options and cost, we have take a look at the graph below.
The next step is to make sure your child has the right tools and space to focus on his work. This may include stationary items, a lamp, and even a desk if they do not already have one. This will also help in getting your child in the right mindset. Attending classes from home is probably a first time experience for most kids. Having an environment which promotes a “study time” mindset will ensure that they focus on the task at hand.
In addition to creating the perfect environment, there are a lot of e-learning apps on the market today, which can be helpful to children that may need extra help with certain classes. Due to this, many schools recommend these apps as supplementary tools to help students. It would be best to discuss this with your childrens' teacher before downloading any of the online learning applications. In the graph below, we have listed out a few examples of e-Learning apps and programs.
Follow a Clear Schedule
The COVID-19 lockdown is also ensuring that many parents are working from home. Time management becomes especially important in this situation. Having your kids disturb you repeatedly to ask for help with their homework, while you are trying to get your work done can be very distracting. While your children may struggle at first, having a clear schedule will allow you to complete your office work without interruptions and your kids will get the help they require when they are struggling with a topic.
One way to facilitate your children's e-learning experience would be to align your office work time and your kids school time so that both of you work at the same time. Another way would be to schedule your work times and your kids study times into multiple time slots. You may have to explore different options and see what works best for you.
One unexpected demand on your time could be to help your child overcome the initial issues he or she will face as he or she adapts to e-learning. They may find it difficult to manage the video calling app or e-learning apps that they are using. This is something to take into account, if you choose to go with the scheduling route.
Learn to Manage Distractions
Many of the distractions that children face while being at school will carry over to online learning.. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp are still going to tempt your kids when they are “in class”. Possibly, more so since they will already be on the internet the entire time. Managing these distractions is also a part of effective e-Learning. One way to handle this would be to install apps which prevent your kids from accessing these sites till they are done with their school work. You may also have to switch off their cellphones during class hours so that they can get through their study times without checking messages every time it beeps. These distractions can be detrimental to academic performance. Studies have highlighted the negative impacts that smartphones have on overall academic performance. Some apps or plugins that you can use to block distractions are SelfControl, Freedom and StayFocusd. You can use these to completely block certain sites or put a time limit on their usage.
That said, "all work and no play" is only going to make your kids miserable and resentful of the whole experience. By speaking to your children and discussing a potential schedule, you can come up with a schedule so that they can get their social media and video game fixes after they are done with their school work.
Take Care Of Kids Health and Wellbeing
Whether we like it or not, a lot of our kids’ time is going to be spent sitting in front of a computer or looking at a tablet. Eyestrain, back problems, neck strain and headaches are going to be common complaints if you don’t take precautions.
First, get your kids to take regular breaks. They can walk around between classes and stretch their legs a bit. You can also help them avoid eye strain by getting them to look away from their screens every half an hour or so. This will ensure that their eye muscles don't get strained by continuously focussing on a computer screen or a tablet.
Another aspect to look at is posture. While you cannot avoid having your kids spend long hours in front of a computer, you can make them follow good posture to keep them safe from back, neck and wrist issues in the future. If at all possible, please make them use a desktop PC instead of a laptop. You can adjust the keyboard and monitor independently in a desktop but this is not possible in a laptop. You can set up a study station as shown in ergonomic workspace setup so that your kids sit with better posture while viewing their lessons online.
Finally, please keep an eye on their internet usage. Just because they need to use a computer and internet for e-Learning does not mean that they should be getting unrestricted access to the internet. There is a lot of harmful content out there which you definitely don't want them accessing. Mental and psychological safety of your kids is as important as physical safety.
Maintain Good Communications with Teachers and Schools
We would recommend keeping in close contact with the school and faculty.. While many schools are actively sending progress updates and notifications to parents, many schools are still playing catch up with this new method of learning. So, it is good if you have the teachers phone numbers or emails to stay in touch with them. It is also a good idea to keep in touch with other parents. This way you can always call and ask if your kids missed anything during class. A WhatsApp group of all the parents is an excellent idea for parents to stay connected. All these steps will ensure that you or your kids do not get any bad surprises - like missed assignments, say.
A lot of internet service providers are providing major discounts during this lockdown period and these include many local players which often provide great service at much reduced prices. Please ask around your area and go for a plan which best suits your needs. Also, many e-learning apps are offering a ton of free content. Byjus, Vedantu and Toppr - all have free online content or free subscription plans which you can check out. Also, by applying for a top online shopping credit card, you can make some major savings on online payments for these apps and services.