By Nurul Khairiah Mohamed Yusof
How to keep your children focused and attentive during remote learning? Read to find out!
With Covid-19 causing widespread school closures due to Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Malaysian government, children across the country are given temporary resources, especially via online platforms, to study outside of the classroom.
Popular choices by educators for remote education range from online classroom tools such as Google Classroom, video conferencing software like Zoom (Google Play, App Store), to WhatsApp (Google Play Store, App Store) texting app.
Parents are still adjusting to this new learning environment that their childrens’ teachers are delving into and during this time, it’s important to help kids stay focused on learning and avoid distractions from social media and games.
According to Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, president of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, this is a stressful, unpredictable time for everyone, including parents, children, and families.
With that in mind, we have put together tips for families as they adjust to the new reality of learning at home.
#1. Make an area for learning
Kids do well in a comfortable, quiet, and dedicated space for learning. Ideally, this will be a different set-up than where they normally play games or watch television.
Designate a space that is far from their playroom and bedroom with enough natural light. Inform other children not to bother them while they are working on their schoolwork.
Prepare a timetable as well as a big clock. Encourage your children to use both clock and timetable so they will have a structured routine in place, even at home.
#2. Prepare Digitally for Remote Learning
During school hours, keep away devices like cellphone and tablet that your children normally use for social media and games.
Instead, give your kids a dedicated device such as a laptop for maximun online learning.
They can still connect with others especially their friends even though remotely by using certain messaging features with supervision. This is important because it is necessary for them to have constant social interaction and can avoid self-isolation.
Remind them, even though staying home from school might feel like a holiday, they’re not on vacation. Assignments, grades, requirements, and tests like school’s exams, Form Three Assessment (PT3) or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) aren’t going away (just rescheduled) following the extension of MCO period.
#3. Re-create School Environment
“You can help your children by providing them with a structure and routine as well as being a positive force in their education” – Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, president of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development
Parents should prepare kids beforehand as this is a new environment for them. Expect some objections and also external distraction e.g; television, siblings’ antics,unstable internet connection, etc.
As mentioned earlier, construct a good timetable that follow the school’s routine starting with classes, toilet breaks, or recess. If you find that your child is not engaging with the lessons, don’t be afraid to contact the teachers to understand their lesson plan, for example perhaps teacher teaches for 20 minutes and 10 minutes allocated for students to do their work in books.
As much as possible, parents should encourage print and book reading. If available, request textbooks from your child’s school along with other print materials in order to offset the amount of online learning they will be doing.
#4. After-School Hours
After school hours should be allocated in their timetable you create for them. This will give guidance to your child on what type of activities they will do despite staying at home without access to extracurricular activities.
They can access to digital devices but with limited screen time and under supervision. Due to MCO, it is impossible to have a face to face interaction, so this will be a good way to interact with friends and family members and make a room for emotional growth.
One study shows that screen time can have both positive and negative impact on kids.
Aside from time with digital devices, your child should have offline time. Encourage them to read books, painting, playing music instrument or simply by resting or taking a nap.
You can also plan off-screen activities for the whole family. Between school and work obligations, it’s rare for parents and children to have this much time together, so turn it into an opportunity for bonding.
Write predictions for a TV show that the whole family watches. Organize a tournament, family card games, board games, or chess.
Stimulate self-expression by having discussions with your children about what they are doing, and also encourage creative writing and imaginative storytelling.
If you find your child is having trouble engaging during the lesson, check the ergonomics and watch out for any orthopedic issues that may arise related to comfort and posture because they will be in this space for many hours each day.
Check if any technical problems such as bad audio, a poor connection or an unhelpful camera angle that arises during the online session. Contact the teacher and discuss what you can help to fix the issue.
Sit your children down for a face-to-face conversations about what they feel about this new environment and are they adapting well to the routines? Some children might feel overwhelmed and demotivated to study in their home, so it is important to help them feel at ease and comfortable.
Remember that you are not alone on this journey. Check-in with other parents to see what they’ve found effective or to ask if they need help. Share your concerns and useful hints. If you need contact information for other parents or resources, reach out to your child’s teachers. It is important that we all work together as a community for the good of our children and families.
Without a doubt, this is a challenging time for parents, teachers, and children alike.
As long as you have the right tools and resources to keep your children occupied as well as maintaining their education process, they can benefit even though in these difficult times.
What other tips to do you have for remote learning? Share with us in the comments section below.