Thursday, 5 November 2020

How Parents Can Be Effectively Involved in Their Child's Online Education

As we learn to live in the time of the pandemic, it’s clear that our lives are shifting online more than ever. For parents, finding the best way to be involved in a child’s online learning can make a huge difference in the outcomes.


Even as we wait for the coronavirus pandemic to be reined in and successfully kept in check, it appears that the new normal is already emerging. One way or another, our future will involve a greater shift towards the virtual realm.

We now work remotely and do most of our shopping through e-commerce websites. If we choose to pursue further education, we can do so through online postgraduate programs. These adjustments have proven relatively easy to make for adults.


In the long term, children who are already having to navigate the world of online learning will face a far greater challenge. Future curricula are bound to place increased emphasis on this aspect.


And along with the kids, parents must also become familiar with this form of learning. Here are some guiding principles for effective involvement in a child's online education.

Understanding key differences


To provide the best assistance for children, parents must understand how online learning can be very different from the traditional environment.


One of those differences is the lack of a uniform experience. Students have access to the same material and receive the same level of instruction from an educator. But they don't all enjoy equal access to a high-speed internet connection. Some families might not be able to afford a dedicated workstation for each child.


The level of supervision will also be less when compared to a classroom. Teachers in class get to walk around, interact with students spontaneously, and ask questions to test knowledge. But in the online setting, interactions are asynchronous. It can take hours before a student responds to a prompt. Trying to engage the entire class in this way will only slow down progress.


On the other hand, online interactions' relative anonymity can be positive for students who lack confidence in their self-expression or knowledge. It can embolden them to speak up, ask questions, and be more participative in activities.

Providing structure and support


In the pandemic age, parents are often tasked with the daunting challenge of lifting a triple burden at home. They handle childcare responsibilities, work remotely to earn a living, and function as auxiliary educators.


Fortunately, many of those functions overlap when it comes to providing for the needs of children who learn online. Kids need structure, routine, and support. By spending more time at home, parents are actually in a better position to create an environment conducive to learning.


You lead the way by setting an example for your kids in terms of creating and adhering to schedules and avoiding distractions. What's good for your home office is also good for their studies. Clear out unnecessary devices and clutter. See to it that you all take timely breaks and get a periodic dose of physical activity.


Being supportive is often taken to mean that you have to encourage your child like a cheerleader. While it certainly has that component, support also has to be effectively directed towards desirable behaviours. You want to reinforce their efforts to double down on a difficult subject, for instance. But coasting through an easy topic doesn't warrant the same sort of praise.

Complement the instructor


This ties into the fundamental role of the parent in the online model of learning. While we have a greater opportunity to observe our kids as they attend virtual school, it doesn't make us de facto educators.


Any effort to improve children's learning outcomes will be at its best when there is a genuine collaboration between parents and educators. The instructor is still the expert, both in terms of the subject matter and its delivery.


Young kids will often approach parents with their questions, and we might answer them adequately. But as the topics become more advanced, we have to yield to the instructor's expertise. Let them handle the details, as well as the overall assessment of knowledge.


On the other hand, parents have a unique chance to observe their child's study habits. They can see if a student can really read and comprehend the course material. And they can catch any lazy efforts to answer questions simply by Googling without achieving true understanding.


From there, the parent can collaborate with the instructor to determine the best approach in either case. Should a good student be pushed even harder to maximize their potential? How do you correct poor study habits or attempts to game the system? The most successful outcomes will result from an effective partnership between parent and educator.

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