With online learning set to continue for millions of students this fall, students and parents must catch up with reality: Online education is here to stay, at least until 2021 at the earliest.
The first school bells of the season rung in on Aug. 31 remotely after the Health and Education Ministries decided that was it was best given a surge in case numbers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, school buildings across Turkey have been closed but were teaching students online.
But getting children back into the swing of remote schooling may prove troublesome after a summer mostly spent stuck at home. So, here are some tips from clinical psychologist Cansu Ivecen on how to provide the necessary discipline at home and make their children's distance education experience a success.
Limit their mobile phone usage
Children need established routines according to their age group. With the pandemic, our children may have formed new and different habits that may negatively affect their cognitive development, such as using their phones or tablets more often and for longer interrupted periods of time. For this reason, some children may have difficulty adapting to online education and may have trouble focusing. Parents should try to limit these habits, and try to stick to the same rules they imposed at home in the pre-pandemic era as much as possible.
On the topic of phones, Ivecen also recommends that children stay away from their phones during breaks as this will make the child more likely to lose interest and focus during their lessons. Instead, she says, encourage them to move, exercise and take care of other physiological needs.
Pay attention to their sleep and diet
“It is important for children to get enough sleep and not to skip meals during the day to ensure their interest in lessons and get them to attend continuously,” Ivecen says.
“Make sure that these needs are met before the lesson and encourage them to sit as ready for the lesson as possible in this process. If you have children whose sleeping patterns and eating patterns and hours are different, it will be useful to determine certain time periods to allocate for sleep or breakfast,” she says.
Establish a distraction-free study environment
Especially with remote education, distractions are a given, but as a parent, you could try to minimize this by designating a desk or a table, just like at school, for your child to study at. There should be no distracting elements nearby or on the walls, and you should encourage your child to lay out all their learning material such as pencils, notebooks and coursebooks on their desk, ready for use.
If possible, they should have a separate room to study in, away from younger siblings that can distract the child. Families should also refrain from doing noisy daily chores while lessons are in session.
Build a study plan and schedule
As with in-person education, it is necessary to help children who cannot get organized while studying or have difficulties and need support by creating schedules and plans during remote lessons as well. By establishing study plans and a schedule, giving positive feedback and encouraging such behavior, the child will perform better and adapt to the situation quicker.
Recognize your child's learning style
All parents should evaluate their child's academic level accurately and realistically and reduce their expectations that correspond to their child's level, Ivecen says.
“Children’s interest and desire in the lesson are affected by the differences in their learning styles. Acting appropriately by recognizing the unique learning style of your child and giving them encouragement by appreciating the effort they make will help increase their motivation to learn,” she adds.
Offer your unconditional support
It is important for parents to support their children in following the lessons and help out with their homework while encouraging them at points they feel stuck or do not understand. Negative attitudes such as criticizing, comparing or raising your voice will only cause the child to feel like a failure and affect their learning negatively.
Encourage them to share their feelings
Face-to-face interactions were crucial for children’s social and emotional development, so limited contact with peers could present new emotional problems in kids. At this point, it will be useful to talk with the child to understand what they are feeling and reflect a mutual understanding. Children who feel they are not understood during these times will lose motivation and interest in their lesson as they continue to experience different emotional problems.
Do family activities at home
Increasing and scheduling activities that include all family members is important for the social and emotional development of children who are separated from the peer groups during these trying times. Planning interactive and fun activities together with your child, setting a time and establishing a routine will also contribute to the positive development of family relations.
Instill trust with your conversations and actions
With the lines between school and holidays blurred thanks to the pandemic and at-home education, children may find it hard to get out of that mindset that the holidays are now over and school has officially started. They may have difficulty re-adapting to the online education process, hence parents should ready to offer them explanations, in accordance with their age, as to why school has to continue like this.
Parents could give examples of various precautions taken in different sectors, and if their children have anxiety, concerns or show unwillingness to participate in online classes, they should talk it out and assure them that everything will be OK.