We have been living in this wild pandemic jungle for months now where the canopy of coronavirus blocks any light of the future from our views. But even amidst the hard lockdowns, a semblance of normality is on the horizon.
Currently, there is a mad scramble of schools and universities to look for the right online platform so that student learning continues as smoothly as practicable. However in this jungle, the road to education fades to a path untrekked for the less fortunate (especially here in the Philippines). The pandemic has unmasked the inequities of our society where millions of economically vulnerable students who have been affected by sudden closure of schools, don’t have access to smartphones, computers or even an internet connection. These are luxuries they simply can’t afford. So, how will learning continue for them?
“We make sure that education has to continue at all costs and in different modalities.” – Dir. Arturo Bayocot, Department of Education, Philippines
Proper face-to-face classes are already being held in some parts of the world; some are scheduled to begin in others, but here in the Philippines, it has been pushed to August 24. If cases increase and the virus spreads during this time, the Department of Education has announced that the delivery of education will be made online. As for the 27 million students who lack access to digital devices or internet connection, modular learning will be implemented. This means that parents now face taking on the important role of educating their kids at home.
For some, this task can be challenging since sending kids to school has provided the opportunity for parents and guardians to work, study and pursue other activities.
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Here are some helpful tips for parents and guardians to deliver effective homeschooling methods to their children during this pandemic:
Homeschooling is not identical to schooling
Remember that homeschooling is not exactly the same as schooling since there are no other kids around, the setting is much more informal and most parents and guardians are not qualified teachers. So loosen the tough disciplinarian act and make learning fun for both you and your child.
Since the classroom setup won’t be as formal, the challenge here is that your child/children may find it difficult to focus outside the usual school environment. However, you can use this to your advantage. Be more creative when delivering lessons as these tend to be highly engaging, which will make children understand and retain information and knowledge better.
Here are some ideas to implement in your home classroom:
- undertake activities that will force them to apply what they have learned, such as with physical objects or outdoor games
- schedule a film that focuses on the subject matter, which, let’s face it, will be quite entertaining for the both of you
- consider baking if you’re teaching chemistry and math
- do some actual gardening if you’re teaching about botany
Ask the teachers
Materials should have already been provided by your children’s teachers so ensure you have everything you need to get teaching.
If you are having difficulty explaining the lesson, do a search online, refer to books, watch YouTube videos for teaching tutorials and don’t forget to email the teachers and ask for assistance. Teachers have adapted their work and are available to serve as your tutor and should accommodate any query you might have regarding the lesson they’ve provided.
Create a schedule
Creating a schedule establishes order, structure and a sense of normal which is necessary in these pandemic times of anxiety and stress. While you’ll want the experience to be fun, you still need to have a system that builds a positive learning atmosphere that will empower your child to love learning. With that said, it is better to start with difficult subjects and tasks early in the day. Make sure to incorporate recess and allow them to complete educational games on their mobile devices and laptops.
Some teachers also suggest a homework and assignment schedule so students can turn in their work before the due date. You may follow this or tweak it according to what you think is best for your child.
Be realistic about what you will achieve
Don’t be too hard on yourself when tasks for the day have not been completed. The schedule is there to guide you and your child and while you should aim to do your best, remember that setting realistic goals and having patience with yourself and your child is most important since children can pick up these negative emotions in their parents and guardians.
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Remember that each child is different, their learning habits are different depending on the subject and their personal interests vary which can dictate how quickly they will learn. This homeschooling relationship between you and your child will be made more harmonious if you acknowledge this and allow them to make their own decisions and mistakes.
Organization is key
This is likely a new situation for you and your kid/s so being organised is crucial. Create a list of what they want to learn and what activities they want to do based on the weekly materials and homework provided by the school or teachers. Through this, you will be able to create a rhythm which will work out for both of you, and you will feel less stress and more confident if you plan the lessons ahead of schedule.
In this harsh pandemic wilderness, building a learning sanctuary is still possible. Let’s pave the road to education where all students from different economic and social classes have access to the right tools and information, because student learning should continue regardless of financial means and one’s privilege.
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Cover image by Julia M Cameron.