Primary school, high school, and college students can agree: 2020 is probably the most challenging (a.k.a the worst) school year they’ve ever had. This virtual class setup makes learning even harder – all thanks to poor internet, dated laptops, uncooperative teachers, uncomfortable studying conditions, and the lack of face-to-face social interaction.
Now, if the older generation of kids is having a hard time, can you imagine how this setup will work for students as young as four years old?
Nursery and kindergarten depend heavily on hands-on learning, guided by facilitators who help children develop their fundamental skills by building upon their natural curiosities. Preschoolers learn within a carefully-curated environment, filled with open-ended materials like toys, books, and art materials. These objects help provoke the young students’ engagement with their surroundings and their peers.
None of these elements exist in online learning. And it’s heartbreaking to read stories about young sons and daughters getting frustrated as they try to adapt to virtual kindergarten.
If you’re a parent or guardian of a preschooler who’s currently struggling with online classes, here are 7 things you can do to help them.
1. Develop a strong parent-teacher relationship
Parents and teachers must work hand in hand to provide the best learning experience for their kids. Be informed of the things your kid’s facilitator requires them to have or the activities they have for families. Keep in touch with them, know what today’s session is all about, and ask for tips on what you can do to nurture your kids after class.
2. Create a kindergarten space at home
Aside from a dedicated desk, you should also give your kid a dedicated space that mirrors their physical classroom. Ask the learning institution for the materials that foster learning at home. These include toys, coloring books, art materials, flashcards, and other visual aids.
3. Set a schedule
One of the reasons why kids get frustrated is they can’t seem to draw the line between school life and personal life when they’re studying from home. With this, you should establish a set schedule for school time, playtime, dinner time, and bedtime.
You should also set daily and weekly agendas to help them stay focused. Start by encouraging them to dress up for “school”.
4. Reward your kid
Your kid doesn’t need to have a perfect score in their virtual kindergarten activity to be rewarded. Every effort, big or small, deserves a nice price. Rewards, even if they’re as simple as their favorite food, can help lift their spirits and make them more inspired to do well in school.
5. Take a break from screen time
Children ages 2 to 7 are still in the stage where they’re not supposed to have entirely screen-based learning. As soon as you notice your child losing their focus, encourage them to have a short break from the screen. For three to five minutes, let them run around the house or go to the backyard and count all the chairs you can see.
6. Provide alternatives to virtual learning
It will also be recommended to provide alternatives to screen time learning, like real books, printed visual aids, and music. For instance, a teacher may discuss automobiles during their virtual meeting. They can invite children to continue their “exploration” after the meeting by building cars out of cardboard boxes. The teacher may then invite their students’ parents to share photos or videos of their kids’ creations.
7. Don’t stress about individualization and academic development
Let’s be honest: the lessons children get from online tutoring and virtual classes will never be at par with physical classes. It’s difficult to absorb information via Zoom calls when questions like “can you hear me?” and “can you see my screen?” pop up more often than legitimate queries. However, don’t let the lack of academic development stress you out.
“The goal was to continue what is at the core of early childhood education and that’s relationships,” says Susie Valdez, senior director of early childhood education for the Boulder JCC. Virtual classes are there so kids won’t lose the drive to learn new things and build relationships.
Instead of counting their points, measure their success by how often they participated, and how much smile and laughter they gave off. Be kind to your kid, and to yourself as well.
Final Words: Remind your child that this is only temporary
No matter how advanced the technology is, virtual classes can never replicate face-to-face classes. If your child misses “real school” and is feeling a little down about this difficult setup, always remind them that this is only temporary. Things will get better a year or two from now, and they’ll experience the joy of learning again.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a daytime writer for Inflow Education Tutoring Sydney, a tutoring organization in Sydney, specializing in Math and English Tutoring. She enjoys writing practical tips on education, parenting, family, and relationships.