How parents can support children’s online learning
To help tackle challenges in a new learning environment
While online learning has been a lifeline for children during school closures, it is no substitute for the classroom and the most vulnerable are left behind. Many teachers have few resources to adapt their classrooms for online learning, while many students do not have access to a curriculum and learning materials that are compatible with online learning.
The most disadvantaged students are not reached by remote classrooms due to lack of access to devices and an Internet connection for remote learning, and the youngest children often cannot participate due to lack of support in using technology. In many households, learning spaces and devices must also be shared, making it difficult to stay focused and learn without interruption.
Without support for online learning – learning loss, mental distress and heightened risk of dropout will be felt by many children, especially the youngest learners in critical development stages. In this article, we will offer tips for parents on how to help children of different ages overcome challenges in this new learning environment for better learning outcomes.
Children’s online learning needs
Children of different ages face different challenges in remote classrooms. Parents can play a vital role in helping children learn and develop to their full potential.
- For young children, they learn and develop skills effectively by interacting with their classmates and teachers – which online learning seriously impedes. Parents can complement children’s online learning with hands-on activities such as book reading, playing with clay or building blocks and drawing, as well as practising languages through conversation.
- For teens, they are feeling the stress of online learning due to loneliness and isolation from peers, increased workload, prolonged screen time and less one-on-one instructional support. Parents can help them manage stress by listening to their challenges, encouraging frequent breaks and offering support.
Tips for parents to help children with online learning
Communicating positively and taking care of mental health
Being a good listener, building safe spaces for conversations and providing emotional support will go a long way in stress management, strengthening the bond within the family and giving children the courage and trust to communicate both positive and complicated emotions more openly with parents. For positive communication and mental health support, parents can:
- Listen with empathy and offer guidance
- Offer and be available for emotional support and care
- Consult with other parents for parenting advice, and encourage children to lean on their friends for support
- Give compliments for efforts and achievements
- Avoid force, coercion and pressure
- Encourage children to observe and accept situations that are out of their control as well as their feelings
- Be a positive role model by showing responsible and respectful behaviour, as well as demonstrating flexibility in making work from home manageable
Supporting learning needs
Supporting your children and their specific learning needs will help smoothen the online learning process and give them the confidence and opportunities to overcome challenges independently and thrive. Parents can:
- Create a regular routine and encourage good homework habits
- Limit screen time
- Help set up an environment and space conducive for online learning
- Encourage children to set goals for the future, make plans and manage time, effort and emotions
Tips for teachers to support parents with children’s online learning
Teachers, too, can support families with online learning by:
- Communicating to parents the big picture of what their children need to learn within a given time period
- Taking the time to check in with parents on children’s progress, challenges and learning needs and sharing helpful resources based on those needs
The pandemic may bring disruptions to schooling but with support from parents and teachers, children’s learning and development can continue.
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