As the pandemic disrupted the usual way of education, parents and young learners had to quickly adapt to the new norm of online education. With our article on Preparing Young Learners for Online Education, we provide helpful tips to ensure that parents and their young learners are equipped with the knowledge and skills to overcome obstacles and succeed in this new mode of learning.
Across the country (and the world), most students spend at least some time every week studying independently. We know from studies and anecdotal accounts that many children must overcome serious obstacles.
The long-term effects of online education are unknown at this time. However, current studies provide clues as to how different types of children might respond to home-based computer instruction.
What Online Education Leaves Behind
It’s crucial to keep in mind the incredible difficulties that many distance learners encounter, such as illness in the family (and in some cases, the death of a loved one), unemployment, financial hardship, chronic stress and uncertainty, a lack of routine, and isolation.
Everybody—schools, instructors, parents, and students—had to figure out how to “do” school while in quarantine. Consequently, it is encouraging when students are able to maintain their academic performance despite the challenges of a pandemic.
However, many children and their families suffer greatly from distance education. For the sake of their children’s education, many parents have given up their careers to become full-time educators. The parents of some of the other families had to leave their children at home alone while they went to work. Many kids had trouble keeping up with the rigors of online learning, even those whose parents were able to stay at home with them.
Some youngsters had a hard time even getting online to class because of disparities in digital literacy and online access among students, teachers, and parents.
Many children lacked access to modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi or computers or had to share a gadget with siblings or other family members. The differences are a source of concern because they may widen the achievement gap between wealthy and poor pupils.
Distance education presented specific difficulties for students from traditionally underserved groups, those with learning disabilities, bilingual learners, and those with mental health concerns. Some families lacked the resources necessary to provide their children with adequate academic support. Families often relied on their older children to help out around the house and in the workforce.
Some students, especially those who study best when given freedom and autonomy, have flourished in online environments. The numbers show that many people have had trouble and been left behind. Many children who struggled with distance education reported experiencing emotional and physical distress due to their experience.
These may be transitory worries for some students. Others may be affected even when they return to traditional educational settings.
These effects appear to extend all the way to college students, with significant gaps being seen by race/ethnicity/economic status/ability/other. Researchers discovered that while 13% of college students were delaying graduation because of the epidemic, low-income students were 55% more likely to make this change. Some fear that these students will never get the opportunity to complete their degrees.
Effects on Education
1. Conflicting concerns.
Many students (including my own children) choose to turn off their cameras, so rather than seeing the smiling smiles of their peers, everyone was staring at a sea of blank squares.
2. Learning Assessment.
Teachers’ efforts to keep tabs on their students’ progress, despite the advent of distance education, were sometimes futile. Despite attempts by educators and parents, students who required the most help in the classroom were often the ones who received the least.
3. Results on Emotional Well-Being
While children were not in school, the prevalence of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders increased dramatically. Many people also saw an intensification of symptoms from previous mental health disorders.
Many teachers, doctors, and parents voiced concerns about the rise in students’ feelings of isolation and suicide risk and advocated for a return to traditional classroom settings.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts. Make the call to emergency services if you or a loved one is in urgent danger.
The ineffectiveness of pixel-based student engagement was bemoaned by many educators. Many children also suffer from diminished social contact and a disconnection from their peer group. Many students turned to online communities and video games in search of friendship and support, only to discover that these activities did little more than reinforce their isolation.
However, remote learning was a comfort for several students, including those who suffered from social anxiety, bullying, or discrimination (including racism and transphobia). Many of these students were able to put aside extracurricular activities and devote themselves fully to their studies because of the convenience of online education.
The Effects on Physical Health
When youngsters were given the option to study at home, they inevitably spent more time inside, in front of screens. Lessons in physical education and extracurricular sports were cut back significantly.
Studies demonstrate that this change led to significant decreases in physical activity. Children who experienced domestic abuse gained weight, developed headaches, slept poorly, and had difficulties keeping their eyes open.
Know that your child is not alone if they have had negative health effects, such as weight gain, because of the pandemic. The term “covibesity” was created specifically to characterize this condition.
Researchers observed that due to the stress of living during a pandemic and being confined to their homes, many children and adults around the world put on weight. Students from low-income backgrounds performed the worst, yet again.
According to the same survey, the percentage of children participating in organized sports has dropped to around 10%. Some children were essentially trapped inside their houses because of the lockdown. According to studies, the consumption of healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables has decreased, while processed, sugary, and salty foods have increased.
There were also many starving children. In reality, pre-pandemic rates of food insecurity among children were roughly 12%, but by post-pandemic estimates, that number had risen to around 38%. Many school districts did their best to keep providing free and reduced-price meals to students in need, but many youngsters went hungry as a result of the school closures.
The interruption of routine healthcare during the pandemic is also a concern for doctors. Due to concerns about contracting COVID-19, some parents have kept their children away from their doctor’s office and their regularly scheduled vaccinations. Students who were not in school did not have access to school nurses or were forced to maintain a current vaccination schedule.
Due to all the recent bad events, the first thing parents (and kids) should do when planning for the future is to take a step back and realize that nothing will ever be the same as the spring semester just completed. We were all stunned into silence and had to reply as quickly as possible. Educators and parents alike can benefit greatly from the advances in knowledge that have been made in recent years. By learning from that experience, every one of us can better ourselves in the future.
This year’s school year is just around the corner, and parents and children alike should take these seven steps to get ready.
1. Formal Reflection on the Past Year
Self-reflection should be a priority for everyone, including children and their parents. What worked and what didn’t? You can ask your students to generate a list or sketch of what worked and didn’t. Talking to your student about returning to school now will help them mentally prepare for it.
Having this time to ponder during a less stressful summer vacation might also be beneficial. As a result of having taken a year off from school, students will be better prepared to deal with the concerns they encountered last year, as well as the challenges and expectations they face in the future.
2. Increase the number of opportunities for social learning.
There is no doubt in many parents’ minds that raising a child is a team effort. If parents want to help their children be better prepared for the 2020-2021 school year, they should do everything to help them connect with other students and make new friends. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance.
Working with the school to find an older student who can help your virtual child tutor in a specific subject, or encouraging your child to do their schoolwork with pals via FaceTime or Zoom. You can organize weekly homework or study dates with other parents and students by reaching out to each other. Students will miss out on valuable social interactions if distance education continues. There is a lack of social connection even with hybrid learning, which incorporates classroom time.
3. Help Your Children Designate a Space for Working.
Parents and children may have had to improvise a homework area last year as schools quickly switched to online learning. It’s never too early to assist your children in setting up a learning space that is dedicated and conducive to concentrated and practical study.
Because so many parents now work from home and so many children are learning in virtual classrooms, the term “home” has taken on new meanings as both a place to live and learn. Separate work areas for parents and children can help eliminate distractions, stress, and conflict in the workplace.
There are three types of spaces that parents should aim to create for their children, which can be nearby or split away. If you want to study and tutor in a more formal setting, pick a room with a regular desk (a kitchen table also works). Make a cozy reading corner and a space where youngsters can spread out and work on school assignments like crafts (that can be done using a dining table or a folding table). With this goal in mind, you should strive to establish the most conducive learning environment possible.
4. As much as possible, try to get your body moving.
Since there were many restrictions and social segregation measures in place, including things like closed summer programs, this summer was no less unusual than last year’s school year. The IDEAL School of Manhattan is a K-12 independent inclusion school in New York City under the leadership of educator Janet Wolfe. She encourages parents to do everything to keep their children actively engaged in creative and entertaining activities. Since studies have shown that exercise and fitness can boost academic achievement, it is worth noting.
Over the summer, the more physically active youngsters are, the more prepared they will be for the new school year to begin. Many children were less involved in the spring than they usually are, making this more of a concern now than in the past. As a starting point, she recommends basic activities like going for a walk every day or participating in family yoga.
This goes hand-in-hand with minimizing the amount of time spent in front of the computer. Many children’s excessive use of technology has been exacerbated by the lack of other, more interactive social options that have been available since March. It will be easier for youngsters to participate socially and academically at the beginning of the school year if we limit their screen time now.
5. Set aside time each day to practice reading and math.
You may strengthen critical thinking abilities and prevent summer slides by reading every day, whether aloud or on your own time. The summer slide is expected to become even more prevalent in the following year.
Consider both fiction and nonfiction, as well as trips to places where you can read. One of the best ways for parents and children to build critical reading skills in older children is by reading a news article together every day and discussing it. Weekly library outings can help create an eagerness to study, as well as cultivate curiosity. While many specific summer programs have yet to reopen, this activity can fill in the gaps in your child’s weekly schedule.
It would help to encourage pupils to practice their arithmetic facts and skills. A grocery list based on weekly menus and a budget could work better for youngsters than a workbook. As a way to practice literacy, financial literacy, and executive functioning abilities, as well as reinforce basic math concepts, this is an excellent activity for students.
6. Engage in a Purposeful Project of Your Design
Begin a meaningful project to help your child get into a fresh, productive mindset. Building a website or publicizing their work of art can be examples of this. Student interests and community service should come together in this project. Start an environmental science-related website, for example, with tips on how to live more sustainably at home if you’re interested, such as: In the college admissions process, efforts like these can help older students stand out.
We should investigate online volunteering options at sites like VolunteerMatch.org and DoSomething.org. Kids should think about ways to help the elderly in their neighborhood, such as organizing a food or supplies drive or delivering food to them. Taking a break from the monotony of virtual or hybrid learning and making a difference for others at this challenging time gives students a chance to recharge their spirit and energy for the upcoming school year.
7. Communication is a two-way street.
When children can express their feelings, both happy and negative, they are better able to deal with the challenges of the new school year. Inquire about how they are feeling by asking open-ended questions. What piques their interest? What’s the matter with them? Talk to your children about how the school will be different in the fall to be mentally and socially prepared for the upcoming changes.
The primary line is that they should freely communicate their fears and anxieties. We presume that our children know that we are always available to help them. Are there for them, but open dialogues are easy and natural reminders of the stability we as adults can offer in times of crisis.
Back to Face to Face School
Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is nearing its end thanks to quarantine measures and rising immunization rates. This fall, the vast majority of school districts will continue with their regular school schedules. The current priority for educators is ensuring a secure resumption of classes.
Students who may have slipped between the gaps during their time in online education are also a potential focus of these efforts. Students and parents alike are concerned about how children can get back on track. It’s crucial to provide aid in the areas of education, mental health, and economic security. If you’re a parent, it’s important to take stock of your kid’s life and health to see where they could be struggling.
Numerous districts provide food assistance, as well as summer school programs, tutoring, counseling (or making connections to accessible resources), and feeding programs. If you need help finding resources for your child, don’t hesitate to contact the school in your area.
Though studies on how well children fared with online classes during the epidemic may make you feel down, remember that there is still a lot to be hopeful about and grateful for. It was decided that staying home was the safest option for students, their families, and their communities.
They have finally seen the fruits of their labors as the COVID-19 pandemic has ended and school has resumed for most of the country. Therefore, we should celebrate any and all of their successes in knowledge learned, resistance to defeat, and growth in maturity.
Helpful related articles: Ways to Prevent Online Bullying, The Best Ways to Discuss Online Scams with Your Teens, How to Raise Critical Thinkers