It is essential that children keep learning, even when they are confined at home. Why? Because learning should never stop, the means and ways may change. Considering the times now, Distance Learning seems to be the best option available for keeping the momentum of learning going, but it comes with its own challenges. It brings us to face questions of screen time, resources, safe apps, privacy, and many other similar challenges to cope with. Schools need to conduct distance learning in a stepwise manner, otherwise it could overwhelm children and turn them off learning. It needs to be introduced starting with a few hours, interspersed with other activities, and thereafter ramped up after conducting surveys with both parents and learners.
Parents also have an important role in creating a healthy home learning environment for their children. During these challenging times, what is most demanding is to find out ways to keep our children motivated as they take up online learning. We now have to look for the silver linings in the confinement of our homes. So, what can we do to make the most of it?
- Agenda and learning space
Setting up a dedicated space for learners is the first step to help them learn. It is important that the space is free of as many distractions as possible. An agenda and a learning space will help your child create his own physical and mental space where he is ready to learn. Playing music without lyrics can also add to their learning. A time table for the day which contains adequate slots for recreation and fun can be a great help.
- Home exercises
As important as the academics may seem, good energy at-home exercises that include yoga and meditation can be a real sanity-saver too. This can be designed with any sort of indoor physical activity like aerobics, zumba or just dancing with the rhythm. Other simple exercises such as wall push ups, sit ups and crunches address muscle fitness of all the core body parts.
- Voice and choice in learning
Any day is full of learning opportunities. The learners can be directed to make an interesting menu of choices that they would like to pursue in a day, making sure that they are choosing options for creativity, exercise, house help, and academics. You can also designate a box or a jar with pieces of papers filled with activities. Invite every member to contribute to it. It can include science experiments, art and craft projects, household chores and even activities as basic as writing a letter to a friend. Just choose one each day and have fun. It will certainly add some levity to your days.
- Meaningful conversations
Talk with your kids. Talk to them about things they can relate to most now, like gadgets, games, apps, and healthy habits. Now is a really important time to have that conversation again.
- Digital safety
Since children will potentially have an increased online presence, it is important that we guide them towards internet safety. It calls for reviewing and approving games and apps before they are downloaded, making sure that the privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible, monitoring your children’s use of the internet, and keeping electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
- Virtual playdates
It is now the need of the hour that, though isolated, children should be able to maintain the balance between their schoolwork and socializing with their peers. They probably miss their friends and they will be more excited to learn when they get to engage with their classmates. During these tough times you can incorporate video chats with their peers. Parents can also work together to create a ‘virtual playdate’ by designating a time every weekday to connect through video to chat about schoolwork or just to catch up.
- Get creative with Technology
Amidst all this, when they are learning, make sure that they explore different mediums of learning online. Diversify media – explore videos, presentations, audiobooks, texts, pdf’s or songs. It is important to break the monotony because that is where boredom sets in. There is a plethora of options offline as well, like books, magazines, reports or maybe something that you have written for them. Read them a story or recite a poem. Mix it up! Turn everyday activities into opportunities for learning.
These simple practices will help children learn the values of accountability and responsibility; they will help them take ownership of their own learning. They can recognize their pace and may make it better for us. Let’s turn our homes into the best schools there can be. Good luck!