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Effectively Utilizing Online Classes

Sandhya Basu

The field of education has witnessed an extensive transformation with the changes in the digital trend. The advent of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has paved the way for implementing various digital educational platforms, right from the nursery levels to the higher education programs. The pandemic has catalyzed the growth of the digital education industry. The current situation suggests that the digital learning platforms are here to stay, and hence in this blog, we will see how children can effectively utilize the online classes. We will also glance upon the parent’s role in ensuring learning through digital platforms.

We live in an era where the internet has connected the remotest areas of this planet. Everything is just a click away. What to see the Alps? Just Google it from the comfort of your own home!

Children today are quite advanced when it comes to the latest digital trends. This is because they are exposed to such devices from a very young age. Toddlers are shown cartoons on iPad during their mealtimes, for instance. Many researchers have spoken about the adversities related to children’s overconsumption of technology. But to our dismay, the pandemic has now pushed children into the digital world for their academics as well. But is this a good alternative to the world-wide closure of schools and other educational institutions? Let us find out.

Some researchers have shown their concerns regarding the ‘genuine understanding of concepts’ from the online classes. This concern is also collectively led by many parents, especially of the younger ones. During my research, I came across some parents, where they shared that their kids play games or surf the internet simultaneously during the online classes. Another parent complained that her child, who is five years old, sits with all her toys during the class and hardly pays attention to what the teacher is discussing. Some children, especially those in nursery and grades one to five, showed explicit disliking towards online classes. Such classes for young children can be challenging because they are restricted to their rooms and a screen instead of meeting their friends, engaging in playful activities, and the like. The situation becomes even more challenging with working parents. Traditionally, children would go to school, expend their energy in both learning and playing. Now the duty of their academics and playtime is shared by both teachers and parents. For those who are working, this may seem like an additional responsibility.

On the other hand, online classes provide a lot of flexibility in terms of accessing information and managing one’s routine. The older children can now juggle their hobbies and online classes. The online classes may also encourage independence where the children can have the liberty to learn concepts by themselves. However, this practice can be beneficial to only those who are comfortable learning without a mentor. For example, someone who is giving the engineering or the medical entrances may not have a strict schedule for online classes than the regular school working hours.

We have now seen both sides of online learning. Much depends on the age and maturity levels of the children. Because the pandemic is still here and the children need to attend online classes, let us see how we can ensure effective learning.

Academicians and child researchers recommend the following to promote a healthy learning environment through online classes:

  1. Limit other digital distractions: Since children are now expected to attend online classes, their usage of other devices must be in control. This is important to limit screen time for children, especially the younger ones, to prevent addiction to digital devices.

  2. Follow school routine: Children are accustomed to a definite routine. Previously, they used to get up early for school, return to play, finish homework, eat, and sleep. Researchers suggest that irrespective of online classes' schedule, children should follow a specific routine (not necessarily an academic-oriented routine) every day to channelize their bursting energy efficiently. This will also help them concentrate on online classes like in the traditional school systems.

  3. Have a designated learning space: Many of us have a separate space at home for work. Devoting a similar learning space for children will help them understand that this space is only for the classes, and no toys or other distractions will be entertained. A quiet, comfortable space will also help them concentrate better in online classes.

  4. Mix learning styles: Children need not only learn digitally. They can read related books or indulge in hobbies like painting or playing instruments. You can also print-out some reading materials associated with the academic syllabus. This will encourage the child to have a reading habit and limit the screen time as well.

  5. Have digital breaks: Have ‘tie-outs’ where the child is forbidden to engage in anything digitally associated. This can be a period of ‘digital -detox’ for the child.

  6. Promote social life through online channels: Let your children connect with their friends over online platforms and discuss things that are important to them. This is beneficial for their emotional well-being and can also promote resilience through these trying times.

As caregivers, we should also keep in mind that children have been experiencing more significant stress than usual. Isolation, negligible social life, lack of extracurricular activities, and inability to grasp concepts or giving examinations based on online classes have added to the existing stress levels for children. This stress may also result in behavioral issues for some children. We must help them cope in such a vulnerable phase. We need to explicitly tell our children why these online classes are important and discuss the COVID pandemic and its safety precautions.

Without a doubt, these are challenging times for children and us alike. Online classes need additional discipline and motivation. However, we need to ensure that the children do not miss out on their academics, and these tips will help you promote children’s learning through online classes.

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