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Over the past two years, online schooling has become the norm. The mainstream education system has integrated their regular processes into current technology to remedy perceived health concerns and lockdowns.
It is important for teachers, parents and caretakers get a fresh perspective on the education services being offered online to find out if they are truly beneficial, or perhaps even more flawed than we initially suspect.
Online study is an important learning opportunity, as students are taught how to navigate through courses, exams, and presentations on the internet. Online learning creates students who are computer literate. This is a non-negotiable benefit for young learners as society delves more and more into technological advances, requiring firm knowledge of computer programs for even entry-level job positions.
Learning online also helps children to focus on their studies, as they are experiencing more one-on-one time with the teacher (through individual and small-group courses and classes). The type of learning is also very time-specific and can be condensed to truly occupy only the necessary amount of time needed to understand a subject.
The greatest benefit of online learning is that it forces the parents or caretakers to get involved. Parents should already be involved in their child’s education. Teaching children online brings the classroom inside the home, and it is wise for parents and caretakers to be cognizant about what the school system is teaching their child.
As a caretaker, don’t be afraid to question or challenge the teacher on the curriculum if you have concerns about the subject matter. You now get to be in on what your child is learning, and you should have more say than ever before in the traditional school system. If you find yourself in this situation, take advantage of it! Make sure your voice is heard so that your child’s teachers know that they have an active and alert parent who is interested in making sure their child receives the best education possible.
A concern for many parents is the amount of screen time that online learning requires. The traditional school system has transferred its regular processes to the computer, still requiring six hours of screen time for the students. This is a definite problem. A child should not be in front of a screen for six hours on a daily basis.
Too much screen time can encourage a sedentary lifestyle, which may lead to health problems such as obesity. It can also cause issues with a child’s attention span as images and videos quickly flip from one to the next. Life on the screen has a sneaky way of trumping in-person reality. It is important for parents and caretakers to be wary of allowing their child to drain days away in front of the computer, television, or cellphone, even if it is for educational purposes.
When there is too much of an emphasis on the virtual world, the danger is that the child will not know how to properly interact in-person. This shows up in children who are not able to assertively hold a conversation, who do not know how to utilize confident body language and who do not understand how to react with wit, genuine compassion, or care in physically or mentally demanding circumstances.
How Do We Look at This?
The best way to look at the online learning dilemma, is to take it for what it is (the good and the bad) and be prepared to not only find solutions but instill them into how your child experiences school.
One of the most obvious solutions is alternative learning. There are hybrid learning options that balance hands-on activities with e-learning. This may be a good choice for you if you have enough time in the day to set aside and teach your child (or have someone else teach them) within the homeschooling program. This option also works well because there is some screen time where you as a parent or caretaker can get other work done. The screen time requirements are much less than the traditional school system.
Another alternative is to have a conversation with your child’s teacher and find out if there is a way that they can condense the screen time. Perhaps they can give you an outline of the curriculum with links to the required webinars. This will require extra work on your part to ensure that your child is keeping up to the standard, but it is well worth the ask. Choosing this route will allow you to carve out more outdoor, off-screen time for your child, so that they achieve well-balanced learning.
If the above options don’t work for you, there are still some simple, but powerful steps you can take to limit that screen time. As a parent or caretaker, you can have a home rule of no screens after a certain time in the day and maybe for a certain day on the weekend as well. Fill in that no-screen gap with family time. This is the perfect chance for outdoor discovery, building book knowledge and feeding your child’s imagination to help them think outside the box.
If you not only enforce the screen-free time, but also follow it yourself, you will see a positive increase in the strength of your relationship with your child, your depth of observation into their life, and the amount of knowledge that they will consume daily.
Please remember that sometimes it is the act of stepping away from the screen (and the comparison it brings) that helps children see they are scientists, magicians, geniuses, and smarter than any exam could ever show them.
Source below for this blog post:
1. “The Harmful Effects of Too Much Screen Time for Kids”, accessed August 8, 2022, https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-negative-effects-of-too-much-screen-time-1094877.
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