Effective Online Classes at Home
As parents, most of us have been happy to outsource the education (by education I mean academics) of our children to schools. The model was working perfectly, with our involvement being limited to ensuring that they do their homework every day, buying charts and papers needed to complete their projects and attending the Parent Teacher Meetings (PTMs) once every couple of months.
Suddenly, the entire equation seems to have changed. We have been catapulted into the role of part-teacher. We were already struggling with the new ways of working from home, managing without house-help, not going out for dinners and movies, having to cook instead of ordering in some food even after a long day; when this additional responsibility of ensuring that our children study, has also been put upon us.
While online education has its limitations, especially for school going young children, there are a few things we can do to make it more effective.
1. Having a Separate Study Area
Children will be children, and for them home is a place where they have fun, where there are usually no rules and which, most importantly, they don’t associate with long hours of study. This mindset itself creates a dissonance in their minds which hampers the seriousness which is required for them to take online classes.
One method which we have seen have a positive effect on this mindset, is carving out a separate area for the online classes. It can be a separate room if you can spare one. If not, a corner in a room, with a table and chair, can be designated as the ‘home-class’. The table must not have any toys, story books or other distracting objects. It should have the device you are using for class (tablet, laptop etc), the relevant book and notebooks and pens.
For every class, the child will go to the ‘home-class’ and study there.
Just creating a separate space, helps create boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘school’ and brings in increased seriousness for the classes.
2. Taking Regular Short Breaks
Watching screens for a long time creates fatigue in children, neither is it recommended. Between classes after every 10-15 minutes, they should look away from the screen and blink their eyes 20-30 times.
Taking 10-minute breaks between classes is also essential.
What should the child do during this break:
- Wash eyes with cool water
- Do simple eye exercises like rolling the eyes in clockwise and anticlockwise direction
- Move the limbs – walk around, jump a little, jerk the arms
These will help keep the eye strain at bay and make the mind and eyes ready to focus on the next class.
3. Bigger Screen
If the classes require only viewing, you might want to consider connecting your device to a TV screen for reduced eye strain. Also, if possible, try not to use headphones.
4. Eye Exercises
Too much exposure to screens for many days in a row can cause strain in the eyes, headaches and overall worsening of the eyesight. While, the exposure is not a choice for most of us now a days, we must ensure that our children do some eye exercises every day to maintain their eye health.
5. Supplementary Practice
It is quite natural that without a face to face interaction, teachers might not be able to ensure that all children understand every concept. Parents, therefore have to play a more involved role to ensure that their children have understood the concept.
Asking questions after classes, going through the reading material with the children, and helping them understand the concept or informing the teacher about the issue or challenge that the children are facing, could help in bringing them up to speed.
Going through supplementary material on sites like khanacademy.org and teaching the child the concept in a similar manner might also help.
In the end, while online education for young children is not the best way forward, but it is here for some time and we have to ensure that our children’s learning is not affected significantly by this. Small efforts by us and a little more time spent in understanding what our children are learning and where they are facing issues will help them enormously and in return will also end up strengthening the parent-child bond as well.