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Role of Parents in Online Learning

We are living in an unexpected and unprecedented time. The current pandemic has had an enormous impact on global education as more than 1.3 billion learners are unable to go to school now (As per article by UNESCO, dated 29th April 2020).

In order to ensure the continuity of learning, educational institutions have  embarked on technological platforms to deliver online learning programs to students.

This “new normal” is not only a different concept for the learners but also for the parents and teachers. While teachers have geared up as content curators , parents are stepping in as facilitators and learning coaches. 

For parents, it is definitely an added responsibility considering their personal work, work from home, household chores, as virtual classrooms are not as simple as plug-and-play. 

We all know that there is a direct positive correlation between parent involvement and student’s academic success. Hence, be it the traditional learning environment or the current distance learning situation, it is imperative for the parents to actively participate in their child’s daily online learning.

Thus, no matter what, the interaction and support of parents are necessary for achievement, encouragement, and accountability of the overall online learning process in today’s time.  

It is true that distant learning presents us all with formidable challenges. Even the most tech-savvy people are facing difficulties when it comes to educational technology as many important aspects of learning may not be transferred online.

But at the same time, we have to adapt to this change until school reopens.

And the truth is, online classes are possible, only with the whole-hearted cooperation of the parents.

So how can a parent impact their child’s online learning in a meaningful way?

Model a positive attitude: Children model their parent’s behavior and attitude. Since parent are now  in close proximity with the online learners, children will take cues from them and will reflect their parent’s behavior

  • Let’s not criticize the online classes or school’s efforts. Instead let’s point out the positives.
  • Let’s not treat the online classes as a temporary arrangement.
  • Let’s not have any unrealistic expectations from our children and their teachers that magically the child will receive everything that’s educationally necessary, through internet.
  • Let’s motivate our child to attend the classes in the same spirit as he/she attends school.
  • Let’s talk about the positives of the current pandemic situation.
  • Let’s be empathetic and understanding towards classes and school’s efforts.
  • Let’s not allow our children to skip the online classes suggesting everything would be repeated once school reopens.
  • Let’s not hold back just because we are unable to use a certain technological tool.

Constant monitoring: Today’s children are not just “children” but “Millennial Children”. They are smart, they are technologically advanced, and they are confident and sometimes can be overconfident too. Hence lack of supervision can also pave the way to mischiefs and naughty acts. We are sure many of our children have done one or more of the following things during online sessions.

  • Entered into a separate chatroom with their friends while the class is still on!
  • Busy playing with a toy thinking their teachers won’t notice in the camera.
  • Constantly changing the screen background.
  • Showing their house, their pets, their toys & sometimes flashing the cameras right on their parents without their knowledge.
  • Scribbling on the screen, randomly walking out without taking permissions, or lying on the bed instead of sitting in an upright position.
  • Or switching off the camera for fun.
  • Not responding to set instructions.

We understand that they are young children and can get restless, distracted and naughty. As parents, it’s our responsibility to create an at-home learning environment that will have a set of rules, decorum, ethics, and regulations.

Continuous involvement: The largest differentiator in a child’s education is parent involvement. Online learning doesn’t require the parent to be a homeschooler, as assumed by many, but a learning coach and facilitator who will help the children in the following ways.

  • Arranging the required devices and tools for learning.
  • Setting up a designated area for their children to attend the classes without disturbance.
  • Helping with homework and in case of very young children, helping them upload the completed tasks on tools/apps as mentioned by the school.
  • Enforcing routine and structure so that they treat it as a normal school.
  • Getting familiar with the child’s e-learning tool and helping them navigate through too, so they also feel comfortable using it.

Cybersecurity: Online learning also poses threats to cybercrime. With exposure to the internet and its unfiltered and uncensored content, children may have access to inappropriate content, subject to cyberbullying, oversharing of private information, and online game addiction. Hence we need to educate them about digital citizenship and how to stay connected yet safe.

No intervention during online class: Just like in schools, the intervention of the parents is not required while the teacher is conducting the class; similarly, it’s always appropriate not to get in, during online sessions or talk to the child when the session is on.

  • Children may get overly conscious if their parents are constantly coming in between sessions talking to them or the teacher.
  • We never know when the microphone is unmuted, hence we don’t want other learners and teachers to know what you are planning to cook for lunch, or why you are upset with your boss!
  • Most importantly, if you have a query, wait until the class concludes and then ask your questions just like you would do in a traditional classroom.
  • We need to be very cautious about what we do and say. If possible we can be in another room while our child is attending his/her online classes and if not we can make an absolutely conscious effort to be as silent and inconspicuous as possible.

Seek support and collaborate with school: Collaboration is the key to the mutual success of both the learners and learning leaders.  As a parent, seeking support from the faculty through phone, email  and messaging will help build strong relationships and trust.

Motivate, communicate, and encourage: At the end of the day, all we need to do is encourage our little children. Let’s accept the fact that the gadgets which were used by them for recreational purposes like games, cartoons, and movies, are now used for educational purposes. It is new and somewhat frustrating for them too. Hence we need to constantly encourage them, praise them after the session, have open-ended communication about their views on online learning and consider their feedback worthy enough to be discussed with the teachers.

We are not sure how long distant learning will continue, but we do know that it won’t continue forever. Hence it is important for us parents to communicate confidence, and optimism that we will pull through this crisis together. We need to set an increased value for education and learning by dictating online learning time, prioritizing needs, and giving personal attention. Managing our own emotions will help our children stay focussed on their learning till school reopens.

The learning leaders and Academic coordinators of pre-nursery and nursery school at Vega Schools, Gurgaon, are always available for any help or support needed on online learning practices. Feel free to contact us.

How would you like to contact us?