Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash
Children are starting a new grade/class without even stepping into school!
With the spread of the new Coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown, schools, colleges, and universities around the country are moving their classes online to make sure the academic year remains unaffected due to the pandemic. All over the world, millions of children of all ages are transitioning to distance learning, and even across our country, students are now completing or will start their new academic year via online learning resources.
The move to online learning, however, will be difficult for teachers, students, and even parents. Children will find the change in routine challenging. Parents are worried about juggling their child’s academics and their work. Teachers will have to tackle teaching in the new digital environment. Moreover, technological glitches or internet speeds may hinder a smooth learning process. Whether online schooling is better than regular schooling or if we should wait till we can start traditional schooling is debatable. But considering the current scenario, online schooling is the way forward – at least for the time being, till things return to normalcy. Online Learning can be made a success with a little co-operation from the teachers, parents, and students.
Get children ready for Online Classes. Make Online Learning Effective.
Today’s children are digital natives and are familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age. But we cannot assume that they understand digital safety and know how to behave online, in a digital environment, especially in a classroom setting. You must have read the news about how during online classes in other countries, some kids spammed the class chats on Google Hangouts, and the virtual classrooms were noisy because students weren’t putting themselves on mute. These behaviors can disrupt online learning. While all parents agree that teaching children manners is tough, translating and adapting those for the online world is even more complicated. Parents now face the challenge of giving children a crash course in socially acceptable (and safe!) behavior online, especially in video-meeting apps – Zoom, Skye, Google Meet etc, that the children will be using for school lessons. Thus, there is no better time than now to help children understand how to be responsible digital citizens.
Steps To Effective and Successful Online Learning At Home
So, is your child starting e-learning for school lessons? A little effort and some preparation can go a long way in setting up the kids for effective schooling from home. Here are some smart tips – a trial run, equipment test, mutually agreed rules to help set kids up for successful online schooling.
Get it all ready
It is essential to make sure that children are familiar with the process and devices before they start their classes. A smooth and glitch-free experience can make the child more confident in their learning and also demonstrate their respect for time.
Identify and Set up Devices and Software
- Identify the devices and the software that your child will be using. Schools will usually give out specifications on the software (Zoom, Google Meets, etc) they will be using for their lessons. Register for the platforms that they will need. Note down their login information and put it up in an easily accessible place.
- Online classes will need audio and video, so test the Camera and the Mic to make sure they are working on your device. Decide if you want to do the lessons over wifi or directly connect to the internet depending on the speed and performance of your internet connection.
- Keep ready any headphones, microphones, books, and stationery that the child may need. In addition to this, check to make sure you have all the things prescribed by the school for the online lesson ready.
Identify and Setup a Study Space
- Mark out a separate space for study and online lessons. Choose a place that has the least distractions and is comfortable for the child. Make sure the space is not in the bedroom or an intimate area. Carve out a space in your home where they can have peace and quiet but that isn’t too personal or intimate.
- If your kids are younger, set up the device in an area where you can keep an eye on them and make sure everything is going ok. This will help you be available for any technical assistance and step in if your kids are goofing around. You can give older kids a little more privacy and put them in space where they don’t feel you are hovering around.
- Video-conferencing uses a lot of device power and so it would be good to keep the devices plugged in. To do this, you may want to keep the device close to the power source.
- Put up the class schedule and login information near the study space that the child can look it up whenever needed.
Run through the features
There has to be some training to get children acclimated to the appropriate learning system. Run through the features of the software/apps and demonstrate how they work to the children. You should make sure that the children know the basic functionality, like how to join a meeting through a link, how to log in, pausing and playing the video, muting the sound, using chat, sharing screen, recording the class and any other features on the platform.
You should also do a trial run to get the children comfortable with the arrangement, device and the software.
Set Ground Rules for Online Classroom Sessions
Set some ground rules with your children about appropriate behavior for video meetings. Get them to write them down and put it up on their workspace. Here are some points to note when setting rules:
Before the class begins
Here are certain must-do things before the class begins:
- Eat a hearty meal or snack (depending on the time of the class)
- Freshen up and be presentable. Dress in comfortable, decent clothes.
- Use the bathroom.
- Keep a bottle of water handy.
- Keep any books, stationery, headphones, mic, or anything else asked by the school ready.
The device stays in one place
Help children understand that the device stays where it is and will not be carried around. Tell them how it is not a good idea to take it around, especially to private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms. If there’s an urgent need, make sure kids know how to temporarily disable the video and mute themselves and then turn everything back on again. Following the above-mentioned things to be done before the class begins will help avoid unnecessary moving away from the device.
Mind your digital manners
Impress on children the challenges of teaching online and that in this unusual time, they should display appropriate behavior and be respectful and cooperate with teachers. This will be a great help to overwhelmed teachers. Also, make sure they don’t introduce pets, play with toys, or wear costumes while on-screen—unless the teacher to.
Use the software/apps or tools responsibly
Children will find a lot of tools available in the software fun to play with and maybe tempted to misuse them. This may lead to distraction or disruption of the class. Though teachers can prevent this by using appropriate settings, it will also help if the children learn to mind their behavior during the online class just as they do during regular school. Put in some rules like, pay attention during class, not send chat messages to others during class, not share their screen unless asked to, to keep a neutral background or profile picture – in short not to disturb the class.
Be mindful. Stay Safe.
Video meetings can be recorded and screens captured by other participants. It is therefore important that children learn to be mindful and they conduct themselves appropriately at all times. Set expectations for how your child should conduct themselves during the session: Face the screen; mute yourself when you’re not speaking; unmute only when you’re ready to talk; etc. It will be a good idea to run through digital safety tips to help children learn about their safety in the digital world.
Set boundaries for yourself
If your children are younger or are new to video meetings, it will be a good idea to be close at hand for assistance. With older children, you should review the rules you’ve set and then let them move forward solo. Older children need to be able to participate in online classes without knowing that you are overhearing or seeing them. Giving them a little privacy is good, and you can always review it after the class. It would also help the teacher know that she’s not being watched and judged by all the parents and this will aid her in being more effective. You did not sit with your children during their classes at school, so you’ll not need to do it here. Remember, help when needed, but don’t hover.
Take a breath and get started
With the Covid-19, a global pandemic upending our lives in every way, we can expect at least a few hiccups, including in online learning. Know that it’s OK if it doesn’t work perfectly on the first day or two, or on somedays. For better or worse, we are going to have to be in this mode for a while, so let us figure it out. With students better prepared for e-learning and expectations, online schooling can become smooth and seamless.