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5 Distance Learning Tips for Parents at Home

Schools across the world are shut down. Every day comes with new revelations and predictions on when the world will go back to how we know it. While governments, medical experts and scientists struggle to find answers, parents and children grapple with a new reality… remote learning.  An innovative and alternative approach to regular schooling. Even though this is a diligent move and perhaps the best alternative in the given circumstances, it has created quite an overwhelming challenge for parents of younger children in particular.

In two shakes, parents are tasked with the responsibility of being expert home educators. Schools are trying their best to ensure that the quality of education received through their distance learning platforms matches the quality received through in-class instruction. Despite sincere intentions and thorough efforts, this is proving to be a monumental task to achieve. There are multiple challenges students face in the new paradigm of ‘remote learning’.

hg0088手机版登录Firstly, due to the lack of intervention sessions offered during regular school days, it is possible that students may lag behind in comprehending core concepts, resulting in learning gaps to grow that will be detrimental for years to come.

hg0088手机版登录Secondly, students may look to collaborate with their peers more intensively during this period, when they are unable to connect with teachers or educators. This could lead to entire groups of students having an inaccurate understanding of concepts based on miscommunication and lack of comprehension. This could result in a shaky foundation of core concepts.

Students may also find distance learning a bane due to the onus it puts on them in terms of self-directed learning and teacher expectations.

Like any other approach to learning, there will be different responses given by students in terms of their learning outcomes. Some will excel in remote learning while others will struggle. As a parent, it is now imperative to take the necessary steps to mitigate the risks mentioned above.

Although remote learning and homeschooling models vary slightly, research conducted at Liberty University, Virginia, USA in 2012 concluded that there are 5 major factors that cause parents to stress when it comes to homeschooling. These factors are common to remote learning as well and can help parents better understand and navigate during these times.

  • An Overwhelming Sense of Responsibility
  • Maintaining Discipline
  • Ensuring Suitable Curriculum
  • Stereotypes & Stigmas
  • Distractions & Extra-Curricular Activities

hg0088手机版登录On the flip side, there were 5 factors that caused the homeschooling experience to flourish:

  • Greater Control & Freedom
  • Making the best of Poignant Moments
  • Finding the Right Curriculum
  • Support from Family
  • Support from wider Home-Schooling Community

An Overwhelming Sense of Responsibility

In an unforeseen turn of events, parents had to add another role to their mantle.  This is stressful for parents, especially for those with older (grade 4-8) children whose studies are more complex and hence the stakes are higher. By high school, students should have developed a degree of independence and self-sufficiency; it’s the students in elementary and middle school grades that require the most parental support.

hg0088手机版登录Even though the situation can seem daunting, parents, who exercise the control and freedom being afforded to them now, seem to flourish. The first step for parents is to understand what their child’s needs are and adopt a plan according to those. Tools such as diagnostic tests can explicitly outline the gaps in a student’s knowledge base and create custom-learning paths accordingly. Perhaps the years of in-school standardized instruction has left gaps in your child’s knowledge base. This is a good opportunity to rectify this and become truly involved in your child’s academic journey.

Maintaining Discipline

Misbehavior/lack of motivation from the child can be the most frustrating part of homeschooling for home-educators. In a traditional school setting, the teacher-student relationship is almost always more impersonal than the parent-child relationship. This means that it’s markedly easier for school teachershg0088手机版登录 to maintain discipline when compared to parents who are homeschooling. As a home educator, you have the opportunity to not only see what your child is learning but also how they are learning.

hg0088手机版登录Parents who view homeschooling as an act of discipleship and mentorship create an opportunity to understand their child more intimately. You may be able to identify issues your child faces in his or her learning process, or issues in the way he or she views the world or the problems he or she faces. This is a good opportunity to enrich the parent-child relationship and also mold your child’s perspective and outlook with what is more in line with what you think is suitable. Other measures such as a rewards system and schedule may be helpful in motivating your child and helping him or her maintain discipline and a schedule.

Ensuring Suitable Curriculum

With virtual learning in full swing, it is important to recognize that only the medium of teaching is being changed not the content. If you see your child struggling heavily with distance learning. There could be a few possible reasons. It may be that they are not particularly suited to the curriculum they are studying. For example, your child may not be suited to the International Baccalaureate’s method of teaching. This could be food for thought when planning out your child’s long-term academic career path in terms of whether or not a change of curriculum would be beneficial.

hg0088手机版登录This would be a severe case; it is more likely that your child has learning gaps, which can be filled by identifying the concepts he or she is weak in. In the current situation student workloads have dropped due to reduced course loads and more time is available as there is no time lost to travel or commute. This is an opportunity to catch up academically or enhance your competence level. Parents should ensure their children make the use this time in a way that will be beneficial to them in the long run.

Stereotypes & Stigmas

hg0088手机版登录There are plenty of stigmas associated with distance learning, especially that of excessive screen times being detrimental for children. The notion that screen time is bad for children is rather misconceived. A study conducted by the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health concluded that there are no causal links between screen time and negative outcomes such as obesity, mental health issues and loss of health. It is important, however, to make sure that the content being consumed is beneficial. Finding supplementary material that both educates and entertains is a good way to maximize the academic benefits of screen time.

Managing the homeschooling process is strenuous, to say the least. Parents and older siblings should all play a role in the administration of the child’s distance learning and supporting the child however is necessary.

Distractions & Extra-Curricular Activities

With ever-decreasing attention spans, one of the toughest challenges with distance learning is keeping the child-focused. This can be focused through some form of supervision or a reward-based system. Secondly, schoolshg0088手机版登录 have cut extracurricular classes and activities. Parents may find it useful to set up their own extracurricular activities such as baking, arts & craft, stay at home exercise or yoga.  By doing so, you help keep a balance in your child’s life and reduce the chances of burnout.

Parents may be able to form social media groups on Whatsapp or Facebook to connect with other parents to collaborate and discuss ideas that would be beneficial in the homeschooling process. Forming tight-knit communities amongst parents will be mutually beneficial to all and will be useful even when schools return to their normal mode of operation.

About the Author

Irum Farhat Farooq is the CEO at EduEnhance FZ LLC.

An educationist by profession, Irum has been working in the learning and enrichment sector for the last 15 years. She began her teaching career as an ESL instructor in Singapore and has worked in different parts of the world giving her the opportunity to acquire knowledge and best practices in teaching at highly coveted and well-renowned institutes.

With a passion for social impact and entrepreneurship, Irum co-founded a learning center in Dubai in 2012 which was a pioneer in blended learning in the Middle East. She has been passionate about empowering parents and educators with programs, strategies and cutting-edge solutions to help children with their learning and intervention needs. Irum specializes in personalized, blended learning using technology and digital innovations.

hg0088手机版登录During her time as the co-founder of MetaMindz Learning Center, Irum secured contracts with Dubai Government to offer Summer Camps at Public Libraries. MetaMindz also became the exclusive Math and English After-School-Activity Provider at GEMS Schools.

With years of experience in the supplementary education industry and a keen interest to learn and introduce educational innovations and advancements to the education fraternity, Irum was awarded exclusive distribution rights of Curriculum Associates programs for the Middle East, Turkey, Pakistan and Nigeria.

An avid educator and a dedicated 'mompreneur', Irum is a certified English Language Instructor from Cambridge Universityhg0088手机版登录 UK and a certified counselor from Singapore Stress Management Center. Irum is passionate about seeking every opportunity to offer equitable education and effective learning to children across geographies and diversities.

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