The Advent of Online Learning for Kids
Although online learning has been around awhile for older students such as correspondence work and online courses for university and post secondary education, online learning for kids became a necessity brought about by the Pandemic situation.
All of a sudden, teachers and parents were forced to deal with a new reality where teachers had to become more “tech savvy” with their lessons and parents became substitute teachers to their children or even educational assistants. As an educator myself, I believe children are resilient and are up to dealing with changes, if we as stakeholders in the educational system guide children along the way.
With any new change, there are growing pains associated with it but there are also new opportunities, and chances to do something new and make things even better than they were before. That is the way I am choosing to look at this new reality we find ourselves in.
Watching media stories, you will find a mix of reactions to this new reality of online learning for children, and not surprisingly, it is all specific to personal circumstances. In this blog, I am mainly referring to younger children, in the primary and elementary educational system. With older students, the demands of learning and getting top marks are a different challenge that are beyond the scope of this blog I am writing about now. In this blog, I am referring to the mix of reactions associated with how parents of younger children are adapting to this new reality and how teachers are adapting to this new, unfamiliar situation we find ourselves in.
There are news stories about parents embracing this new reality, as they are able to stay home with their children (depending on their unique work situations) and really spend more time with them, watch them grow up, get to know them better and enjoy that quality time that seems to escape even the most well intentioned parents in times before the pandemic, with the stresses of daily life and the balancing act between being a “great parent” and an “exemplary” employee; this emotional toll pounding down on them continuously. Then there are those parents who are struggling because of the exact same situation. They are struggling to “work from home” and help their children with schoolwork even more, but in different ways such as making sure their children have the technology they need to learn online and in some cases, reinforcing learning with their children that is difficult for teachers to get across to their students in a new online learning format.
Teachers and those in the educational sector are trained to meet students where they are but they still face challenges too. Teachers must find new ways to “engage” their students even more because the children are not physically present in front of them anymore, where all the reinforcing and feedback usually happens, with the benefit of having your students physically there in your presence. Plus, teachers and those in the school system genuinely miss their students and find it hard to not be able to keep that relationship going with their students, by being able to have those one-on-one conversations with their students and continue fostering those strengths and progress they have worked so hard at achieving within their students, until school was abruptly cancelled and students were being asked to learn in an online format.
As an educator myself, I am embracing this opportunity to challenge myself to become even more creative with my lessons because it is not a secret that even if students are physically in your presence, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you can reach them and keep them engaged. The true mark of making a difference is being able to engage your students no matter where they are, in your presence in the classroom or at home in front of their computer screens. As an educator, one believes in being a lifelong learner and what better time than during a pandemic can teachers shine a light of hope, by embracing this new online learning situation, and make the learning even more engaging and become even more innovative in ways to reach all our students!
Although we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation, I believe we must choose to look at it in positive ways and embrace this new opportunity that has presented itself. We may not have chosen this new reality, but it is here and it is up to us to determine how we face this new reality and deal with this change in the way we educate our children. I argue for the challenge of embracing change by making the educational system work even better as I have personally seen how students have thrived in this new reality of online learning. The educational system cannot remain static and stagnant, it should be a dynamic system ready to embrace the new ways students are learning. Many adults can already attest to the fact that children know more about technology than adults do in some cases. It is time for us to rethink the way we educate our children and meet them where they are. With the advent of online learning for younger kids, maybe this is an opportunity that presented itself for us to really consider as the dawn of a new way of learning for children.