Online schooling isn’t exactly what we pictured for our little ones. And in most places, this is the second year of virtual classes, and for some children, this is their first introduction to school. Especially for children in the age group of 3-5 years, who might have enrolled in schools only this year, this will be their first experience of school life, albeit virtual. While we are uncertain of how long it will be before children, particularly young ones get the opportunity to be in a classroom again, we know we must do what we can to make online schooling a success, even if for the time being.
While older children might have better success with online classes, as they might be more familiar with gadgets, have better sitting tolerance, longer attention spans and most of all, understand the concept of schooling, it’s a whole different ball game for the younger lot who usually develop these skills only after they begin schooling. Like a lot of things in life, it is about adapting and children are champions at that.
As parents, it seems like our responsibility to worry. So it seems only natural to have concerns over the effectiveness of online classes and whether our children will learn foundational skills as well as they should. And while our teachers work tremendously hard to make online learning engaging and interesting, a part of the responsibility of ensuring its effectiveness is on us parents. In today’s post, we’ll talk about little things you can do to help your child adjust and benefit the most from online schooling.
A few tips to get you started.
Set up the environment: It’s going to be difficult to pay attention to a teacher miles away when your child’s favourite toys are right next to them. The first thing to do is to set up a study spot for your child. Having a dedicated learning space can help set the tone for the class. A study table and chair are ideal, but even a spot at the dining table will do. Keep the room free of distractions. Turn off the Television and any music that’s playing in the background. Keep those toys and phones away. The lesser the distractions and interests around, the easier it is to pay attention to the online session. Get them dressed, in comfortable clothing and that means out of their jammies and into appropriate clothes for class. Dressing the part isn’t only for adults apparently. Ensure the room is well lit and airy. Keep their school books and all their supplies handy. This can also foster independence, as they can reach for things they need on their own.
Make sure your child is comfortable: Little ones can get cranky and feel fidgety if they feel physically uncomfortable. Apart from appropriate seating, make sure their tummies are full. A well-rested child is also likely to be keener on sitting through a class. So a good night’s sleep is necessary. Keep a bottle of water close by so they don’t need to move away. Clear their desks of all clutter. Little children can’t sit through long periods of time. Ideally, their teachers will factor in little breaks for them. If you see your child getting restless or very distracted before the scheduled break, give your child a short break to move around. Let them take a quick loo break, stretch and come back to their seat.
Create a schedule in advance: Put up a visual chart of what your child’s day is going to look like. Young kids do not fully understand with just verbal instructions about class days and timings. So plan a routine and schedule that works for you and put it on display where it is visible to your child. Using picture cues can be helpful. If classes are in the mornings, ensure you factor in enough time for your child to get done with breakfast, freshening up and being ready for class in a relaxed manner. Rushing children through a schedule can make them irritated and overwhelmed. On weekdays that your child may not have a class scheduled factor in time for sitting with some writing or activity, if possible. The more consistent the routine, the easier it will be for your child to get used to it.
Give them time to settle: For many young children, this might be their first glimpse of school, more so their first time online. Children who have been to play schools earlier might miss the company and excitement that friends bring. For children who are only starting this year, forcing them to sit through and through right from the start is a big ask. At the same time you might worry, that they’re losing out, or that they’ll lag behind the rest of their class. Give them a few weeks to settle in and understand the process. Keep the environment and schedule conducive and they’ll eventually come around. Forcing or threatening them to participate will make online schooling less appealing and more unpleasant.
Give out plenty of encouragement: This is so important. At school, teachers would have looked at their books, left remarks and responded positively to the child’s enthusiastic participation. All of this may not be possible through online schooling. While the demands might be the same, the appreciation may not be as freely available. As parents, take up the role of appreciating their work and responding to their participation. A little smiley stamp on their hand or a star sticker on their boards can really cheer them and keep them motivated.
Connect with their peers: A big exciting part of schooling is the opportunity to make friends. For many young children who are attending their first year of school and online, they are missing out on this opportunity, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on making friends. Do your best to connect with peers. Your child can have a video call with some of his classmates once a week maybe. And when circumstances allow, you can let them enjoy a play date too. Having a familiar face or two even in a virtual class can make a huge positive impact on your child’s attitude to classes and school.
Ensure your child has fun and plenty of physical activity: This would have ideally been a part of his schooling too. With online classes and children home 24/7, they might be exposed to screen time more than usual. So make sure they aren’t missing out on exercise, some physical activity and plenty of fun. It is important to make these a non-negotiable part of their routine.
We hope these tips have given you a start on making online classes fun and inviting for your little one. With some time and a routine in place, your child will begin to enjoy these classes and learn plenty. Mamas and Papas, we appreciate all you do. You got this!