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Making Online Learning Work for The Young Ones

9 November 2020

Yes, it`s possible! Here`s how...

“Under the shadow of Covid-19, the lives of millions of children have temporarily shrunk to just their homes and their screens. We must help them navigate this new reality.”

- Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF (as quoted in an official press statement on 15th April 2020)

The new-norm of a during and post-covid world, has also brought all of us face-to-face with the new realities of learning. The question is no longer whether online learning works for our children or not. The question is how to make it work as there doesn`t seem to be an alternative, at least for a foreseeable future.

Even in a post-covid world, some things seem to be changing permanently, and looks like online learning for children is here to stay as a permanent fixture in our lives, at least to some extent.

So how do we make online classes work for the young ones, both as parents and as educators?

In this article, we discuss some of the practical ways to do that. Let`s dig into that, shall we?

Understand and appreciate that every child is unique

Every child is unique. And so are his/her learning requirements. We need to understand and appreciate that. So that we can plan for how to work with the unique learning requirements of each child, instead of being baffled and hassled about it.

Every child will have different attention spans, different tolerance to the time they can spend on screen, different speed of learning when taught online, basically a whole different approach to process online learning for themselves.

We need to observe, be mindful and sensitive of these minute details. We need to plan around these requirements of our little humans to make it work for them. That`s the first step towards helping them learn, online or otherwise.

Be ready to be an active participant in your child`s online learning

Online learning is challenging not just for the children but also for the parents, teachers and caretakers in general. In online learning, since the interface is via technology and lacks both direct human touch and observation, parents need to play an active and involved role in their child`s online learning.

At The Banyan, we strongly believe in parents being active participants in their children`s learning and all our online programs are designed keeping that in mind.

Be on top of what`s going on in the sessions and help your child navigate through their learning by being present for them.

Structure the online learning for your little ones

Human beings are creatures of habit. Build a structure and systems to maintain consistency. Setup and schedule timings for your child`s various activities and classes. Set up and adhere to routines to be ready for classes. It helps children form habits and makes it easier to set their expectations and to stick with the routines.

It`s also equally important to clearly define the distinction between learning and other activities. It`s easy to get consumed in the screens and let the time be slipped by. Don`t let your child become a prisoner of online learning and screens. Limit screen time, set clear boundaries, dedicate ample play and family bonding time, away from screens. It helps greatly to bring in consistency, create constructive habits and break the bad ones in the formative years of your children.

Create an environment of learning

Just like your workspace, set up a dedicated space or corner for your child`s online learning as well. They will know that they`re here for learning when they`re in the space, building the right mental recalls and triggers.

It also helps in reducing distractions and makes everyone respect the learning time for your child. Instill a sense of due importance so that everyone treats this as serious learning time for the child. A well-defined environment fosters learning.

Setup a feedback mechanism

Children respond well to a feedback mechanism. Both parents and teachers need to not only observe the progress but also to acknowledge the same.

A star or a pat on the back goes a long way in creating positive associations and keeping the children motivated with these subtle reaffirmations.

Be vigilant yet flexible

Though, be observant that your child`s learning is not compromised during these times, but also be flexible in your approach. These are not normal times by any measure and it`s alright to be a little relaxed.

Even if you feel that your child`s learning is not how you expected it to be normally, appreciate the fact that we`re living in the times where online learning is possible. Don`t be unnecessarily harsh on either yourself or your child or even at educators.

Be kind and be grateful. Your children will reflect the same and will be at ease, making them more receptive to learning in general.

Friends and family are important, now, more than ever

Make sure that your child gets enough time to bond with family members and friends, be it at your home or online. Just because we all need to practice caution and social distancing, doesn`t mean that we need to be totally cut-off from our loved ones.

On the contrary, it`s even more important now more than ever. Children need to stay in touch and hangout with their friends and family members, even if it`s happening virtually.

A little fun goes a long way for children

It`s inappropriate for the development of young children, if all of their learning comes from online classes only. It needs to be balanced with fun activities, preferably physical activities. Online classes should focus on becoming only means to the end and facilitate the learning, instead of becoming the only place for the child to stay glued to for hours on.

Fun games and physical activities need to be integrated into the coursework. Learning through play is still crucial to build critical thinking and skills into young and impressionable minds of our children.

We, at The Banyan, keep organizing for such fun and relevant activities from time to time. We recently organized special camps for both Dussehra and Halloween and had a lot of fun with our little champs, see some glimpses in our gallery. We`re soon going to organize special activities for the upcoming Diwali and Children`s Day, both of which are coincidentally falling on the same day this year.

Let`s not forget that we are all still human beings behind all those screens.

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