Helping Your Kids Adjust to E-Learning

School is officially under way just about everywhere. With the pandemic showing no signs of letting up, most kids are beginning this new school year using online learning in some capacity. While Zoom and other online platforms have been a vital tool to help in educating our kids through lockdown and social distancing, they also pose some unique challenges to learning as well. Understanding these challenges can help parents and teachers work together to help their students learn well despite this crazy time in history.A main issue for kids with e-learning is that most kids do not necessarily see technology as anything more than entertainment. It is important for parents to train their children in how to use Zoom as a tool that helps them interact with their teachers and classmates so that the experience is more engaging.

Electronic Devices for Education

Remember that most young children only see technology as a means to the end goal of entertainment. They may be well adept at using a tablet, cell phone, gaming system, computer, television, or Alexa, but they only use it for entertainment. They do not normally use it to look up information (apart from Alexa) or call people (even if they may sometimes talk to family and friends using some type of facetime). Generally young kids know how to play games and watch videos using the latest tech. They can be more proficient than their parents in finding and queuing up their entertainment, but they do not typically do google searches to find answers or solutions to tasks presented. Especially in a school environment. They also do not necessarily have a long attention span. They may or may not be able to watch a long TV show or movie, but again they are not required to engage with the person on the other side of the screen. If they become bored or distracted, they easily tune out whatever is going on on the screen. Unless they are solidly engaged with who or whatever is on the screen, the teacher will be hard pressed to keep their students on task for the day’s lesson. And even if the teacher can manage to keep the kids tuned in, if they do not have some adult supervision, they will probably not be able easily to maneuver the maze of logging in correctly, and downloading or uploading assignments.

Virtual Interaction

The older a child is, the more practice they will have had in a school setting. This doesn’t guarantee that they feel comfortable doing facetime with a teacher and classmates. Personal interactions via virtual meetings generally occur with family and friends, and having to interact with a teacher, who is usually a stranger at the beginning of the year, can cause the child to feel shy or uncomfortable. As we have all probably noticed by now, Zoom and other facetime meetings bring outsiders into the very personal and private spaces of our homes. A kid may do school in their bedroom, and it seems weird to them that their teacher and classmates can see into their private space. As kids get older, the regular anxieties and self-conscious feelings associated with various age groups can feel multiplied when required virtual class time forces us to allow others a prolonged view into our personal bubbles. It also doesn’t mean that they are super savvy in doing research or completing assignments completely online without assistance. Finally, don’t forget that if it is hard for adults to be self-disciplined to always stay on task and complete their work when working from home, it is equally of not more challenging for kids. One of the benefits of in-person school is that there is outside authority to lead, teach, and guide through the process of learning. With students at home but parents occupied with other requirements of living, it is easy for a kid to not log in, not complete or turn in assignments, and get behind.

Tips to Help Your Kids with E-Learning

So as not to leave everyone hanging on a sad note, there are some easy things you can do to help your kids with e-learning. This first is training your young learners to see their tech as a tool to connect and communicate instead of just as a form of entertainment. To do this, practice by doing Zoom meetings with them at home. Set up a meeting and send an invite to yourself or your child’s email. Teach your child how to log on, including typing in the password and muting/unmuting their microphones. Then you go to a separate space/room in your home away from your child. Have them log in. Then interact the way you think the teacher might. Ask them some intro questions (How is your day going? Did you have a nice morning so far? Etc.) Then ask them to repeat some phrases to you to show they are able to hear and are listening. Ask them to complete a task – answer a question, write something in their notebook, or some other simple job – and show you when they are done. Keep the “meetings” short and do a lot of them. Remember that you are training them so they are prepared to take class online. Also, make yourself available as much as possible when they are taking class for real. This will give them security and comfort. Another thing you can do to help navigate this hurdle is help your child choose a space they feel comfortable sharing with the rest of their class. Wherever it is located, be sure to do a trial run or two virtually so that you and your child can see what their background looks like to others. Then you can decide how to rearrange, decorate, and tidy up to help ease anxieties and concerns. Another help you can provide is for you as the parent to learn how to use the online platforms, tools, and resources the teacher/school will be using. Then you can understand how to help find assignments and download or upload finished work. You can also then know what your child is talking about when they discuss school “stuff” with you. Ultimately your child will have the most success when you are involved no matter what school situation you find yourselves in. Not just because you are monitoring and helping fix problems, but because your child will feel loved and supported secure in the fact they are not in this alone.
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