After a bit more than 3 weeks at home with my three teenagers I can say that so far we are doing well (touching wood, iron… whatever brings luck!).
My children coped quite well with the remote learning, surely thanks to the school that already used learning platforms for homework and assignments, as well as independent learning. – I am very aware though, that this was not the case for many other schools, and teachers and families needed at least one week to adjust to the new situation.
Judging from the general tone of parents in the fb groups I’m following, all schools, teachers, educators did stellar jobs in transitioning to distant learning and allowed children to adjust to the new situation.
What many schools opted for was asynchronous learning, i.e. where the teacher is not meeting the students in “real time” and face to face.
Although this kind of teaching can be quite successful with children who are rather independent learners and have already developed a routine and discipline to do so, for those who are less familiar to this kind of learning and need more guidance, it can be more challenging.
Chia Suan Chong, an English language teacher who has made her mark on the field of ELT internationally and who is an inspiration to a lot of teachers, and author of Successful International Communication, held a brilliant webinar Doing the Communicative Approach Online: Motivating students to speak, where she explains how to motivate and keep students motivated when holding online synchronous lessons, i.e. face to face in real time.
Remote learning is not home schooling!
Keeping teenagers focused and engaged when learning remotely is not the same as home schooling!
Some parents had the impression they would need to become teachers in order to help their children keep on track, but this is not the case when we talk about remote learning. During remote learning, teachers and educators are still in charge of providing the necessary input and support to the students.
Although younger children might need some more support from their parents – either to set up the computer or device they need to work with, or with staying focused – older children rather need to learn to not get distracted and get side tracked by chats with friends, gaming, tiktok’ing etc.
Having a clear schedule and routine helped many families make it possible for their children to keep on studying. I know that families with children with special needs had to face many more hurdles! Especially when the parents needed to get some work done at home too. I heard though that some schools who already provided support for these students, also had special educators take care of them remotely.
How to improve even more…
What many schools and teachers need to consider though during COVID19 is that studying at home with all the family under the same roof, requires other routines and demands another kind of concentration from our children. Especially when they need to share the same table, room and sometimes computer…
I observe that schools have adapted the daily schedule and are not requiring children to sit in front of their devices for 6-8 hours in a row, but prefer quality over quantity.
Three or four hours per day is enough for a school aged child and student to study through an online device. – Our children also need time to process what they are learning independently, and they need to get the chance to apply and exercise what they’ve learnt.
And, how Chia Suan Chong mentions in the video, it is important to vary in the style of teaching and keep everyone engaged.
Connecting online … and offline
Teenagers who are familiar with learning online already to some extent, this change in the last weeks hasn’t been a big challenge. Obviously they miss their friends and the daily interactions with them, but they can “meet” via facetime, skype, zoom or other platforms. In times of social distancing in real life, we all use to socialize more online, and we should be thankful for having this option. I am very much aware that this online socializing is not possible for every child around the world right now, and I wonder how they are coping with this. A friend who lives in a country where the internet connection works only every now and then and only during a few hours per day, told me that they are spending time on the balcony, chatting with neighbors and those who take walks in the street. For the rest, they can’t do much more than playing board games, read books and draw, do what I think we all would have done should this pandemic have happened 20 or 25 years ago.
I hope your teenagers are all doing well and found a way to make the best out of this situation. – Keep safe & healthy, and #stayhome.
My questions for you:
- Do you know if the children who need some more support in your school received it also when they had to start studying from home?
- How was this organized?
- What would you suggest could have been done differently in your specific case, for your child and situation, to guarantee remote learning?