Distance learning: not as easy as 1-2-3

The challenges of school during COVID.

Families are still figuring it out

Picture this: a home that was once solely occupied by a dog or a cat during the day is now at full capacity with multiple children in various moods and beyond-stressed adults. Sounds familiar, right? Today’s modern COVID climate begs for a very necessary remodeling of schooling tactics and education in general. While there are some people who favor working from home and/or attending school online, there are definitely others that are opposed. Like with anything, there are pros and cons to online education; however, here we will further explore the challenges with distance learning for children and adults.

Expanded roles for parents

Not only are children negatively affected by the challenges of distance learning, but parents and guardians have also had to do a lot of rearranging, restructuring and likely take many very deep breaths in order to survive the unforeseen circumstances presented by the pandemic. While kids may easily get restless with online learning (hello, Zoom fatigue!), adults who were already strapped for time have had to add extra “educator/tutor/assignment supervisor” titles to their “resumes”—not something they had ever expected to do.

Working parents need extra support right now

An article from the Better Care Network poses the fact that, “working parents with school-age children are faced with the challenge of how to ensure that their children are in a safe learning setting while they work—a challenge that is even more daunting for families with low incomes, families who face greater health risks, and families who face inequities in access to educational and health resources as well as employment options.” Essentially, those that do not have the luxury of working from home (read: essential workers), may find it difficult to provide adequate childcare. Many of these extremely hard-working parents are overburdened and under-resourced. These challenges become even greater due to many before- and after-school programs no longer being available to help working parents. For them, virtual childcare for the younger kids and distance learning support for their middle-schoolers can provide some relief, although nothing takes the place of the more “normal” life that included in-person school and safe full-time care more accessible before 2020.

Many children struggle with virtual school

While many kids are exhausted after long periods of looking at screens (who thought we’d ever see the day, eh?!), it is also very likely that they will be tempted to play games and watch shows on their gadgets during school hours. While they are, quite literally, left to their own devices, it may become more difficult for them to stay motivated and on track with all of their assignments and school-related responsibilities. All these factors may cause kids who have always been on top of their assignments in a typical in-person school environment to fall behind now. Enter Homework Helpers, a virtual service that helps children maintain focus and productivity by teaching necessary project management skills by means of a virtual tracking system. Incidentally, the service relieves overextended parents by helping children learn organization skills and become more independent, while freeing up parent time today.

It's easy to fall into unhealthy habits

According to a post on Edutopia, many children are claiming that it is difficult to follow along with online directions, finding a work-life balance is much more difficult and that technological errors can lead to frustration, lesser productivity and interrupted class-time. On top of all of this, kids just miss going to school and interacting with everyone there; they are greatly lacking in face-to-face human interaction.

While, yes, FaceTime, Zoom and Instagram Chat are all excellent means of communication and connection, it is just truly not the same as spending 1:1 time with friends and peers during school. This could lead to much higher levels of isolation, and while alone time might not always be a bad thing, it is increasingly being observed that this solitude could also lead to some unhealthy behaviors. It’s almost hard to believe that kids could miss going to school at times, but leave it to a pandemic to demonstrate the importance of structure and discipline via education!

Additionally, dealing with the emotional burden of staying at home can be tough to navigate. Aside from isolation and fear during this time, becoming anxious or depressed are realities for many children. Binge-watching content, endless video games, and social media obsessions are among the most common outlets. Where and how are parents expected to draw the line between homework time and play time on the same tech devices? There are no easy answers and households are taking steps at the individual level—a topic we will explore in a future post.

Keeping parents well impacts households and communities

Better Care Network eloquently states that, “helping parents manage the balancing act of working while protecting their family’s health and their child(ren)’s education is not only important for the current and future success of the children and families themselves, but also for the health and economic recovery of businesses and employers, communities, states, and the country.” While it seems very likely that many of the schools around the world will continue to open back up, for the time being there are many things that ought to be considered for adults and children going forward. Parents have to make a plan to carve out some time for themselves. One method of doing so could be using Virtual Babysitting Services for the younger kids in the house in order to provide themselves with some well-deserved free time while simultaneously and safely entertaining and enriching their child(ren)’s lives outside of the virtual classroom.

#distancelearning #WFH #workingparents #virtualchildcare

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