Making the Most of Remote Learning by Hemant S.
Depending on where you are in the world you will probably be in some form of a lockdown. ‘Normal’ life as we have experienced it no longer exists and for some, it may never exist again. It makes us realise how much of life’s simple pleasures we have been taking for granted. For most of us, there will be a ‘new normal’ that we will need to adjust to overtime. For parents of school-aged children, this is especially true. Most of us grasp that when a country’s lockdown ends, it cannot revert to business as usual! Covid-19 is still out there and according to some, it will be with us for the foreseeable future until a vaccine is available. But at some point, parents will have to go back to work, and children will go back to school. But as with many businesses and with other aspects of our lives, schools will also need to enforce social distancing. But what does social distancing at school look like? It is definitely not business as usual. There are a number of different experts and panels out there sharing their vision of what a social distancing school looks like and this may look different in different countries and across different school ages. But a common theme running through most of these models is that not all children will be in school at once. For schools, this means that classes will be smaller so that students can social distance while learning — but what happens to the children who have been told to stay at home for a day or a week? Remote learning seems like it is here to stay whether parents like it or not! So how can we as parents, educators, and learners make the most of it?
Some parents went into the home learning period full of steam and enthusiasm. It was fantastic to see the flurry of resources and suggestions for helping parents to help their children learn. But many parents are still working full time from home. Employers on a whole have been flexible and understanding of the new situation parents have found themselves in but as lockdowns start to ease, businesses will start to move at full speed again. Is this kind of homeschooling still going to be sustainable for parents? Especially as when parents return to work full time and children only return to school part-time? Will some countries go back to the regular schooling process or will new hybrid models emerge? It will undoubtedly be different across the globe as was the response to Covid-19. But as a community of educators, parents, and learners we can work together to find ways to ease the pressure on parents and allow our children to continue to learn. With this in mind, let’s take the time to review some of the more successful and innovative methods and resources for remote learning that will help in the future.
At the outset, let us be clear on one thing – the current model cannot replace education. For all its flaws, the traditional model of education did serve a larger purpose than merely academic instruction. It is where learners learned to interact with their peers, form bonds, and learn the rules of the society they found themselves in. The current lockdown school model is something that has been thrust upon us and we are coping as best as we can. Many educators are seeing this break from the normal model of learning as a way to re-engage and re-energise children and young people to the joys of learning. Especially as schools start to go back and students regain some resemblance of following the curriculum, it is possible that the time students spend remote learning can be a period filled with learning new skills and expanding their curiosity about the world around them. Education should aid in the nurturing of your dreams. Without dreams, nothing works. This is an opportunity for parents to be a part of the child’s learning journey. And not just the academics part but the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of a child’s development have to be factored in. With the right amount of support, we can turn this into an opportunity to help our learners take ownership of their learning. A simple starting point is to help co-create a roadmap for our learners in each of the Five Areas of Development. This can be done in their notebook or in an online document. The important thing is for the learners to express what it is that they would like to learn or improve in a few or all of the Five Areas of Development – Cerebral, Emotional, Social, Physical, and Spiritual. When we did this with our children we encountered some surprising results. They expressed an interest to learn more about drawing, drones, anger management, and some forms of martial arts. These topics did not feature in their daily lessons but this is what they were interested in learning. So we created a roadmap for them – a simple one – with intended outcomes, timeline, and resources that they could use. Some parents felt that it was easier to do this with their older son than it was with their seven-year-old daughter. However, as we got over the inertia we noticed that it became progressively easier. When we take the time to listen to our child’s dreams and aspirations, amazing things begin to happen. They are more involved in the task and their curiosity is stirred. They become less scared to experiment and make mistakes because it is something they genuinely want to get better at. And knowing that their parents and teachers have their best interests at heart gives them the confidence to plow through tasks. Of course, it is also a joy for us as parents to see our children actualise their potential and free up their own time to do the same. To help you get started on this journey we have compiled a list of online resources that may help your learners in their development journey in the five areas. We urge you to review this on a contextual basis and use what you feel is appropriate for your child’s development based on their interests.