- For the 2021/2022 academic year, which began September 6, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information announced that remote learning would be undertaken due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- “Reduce the distractions within the home environment. Access to other devices should be nowhere near the teaching and learning space. It should be clear of any audio or video or gaming devices that could distract a child. It should be removed from that space,” she advises.
- Acknowledging that this is a frustrating time for parents as well, Ms. Kerr urges patience and understanding.
The National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) is providing guidance to parents for monitoring children’s activities in remote learning.
For the 2021/2022 academic year, which began September 6, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information announced that remote learning would be undertaken due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
To facilitate this, students have been furnished with online or computer-aided learning, audiovisual (television and radio) and the printed learning packages or kits, as well as audio learning apps.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NPSC, Kaysia Kerr, says parental involvement is critical at this time, as children will need even greater support to make the adjustment to this learning environment.
Ms. Kerr tells JIS News that parents have been expressing concern about the challenges of keeping children engaged in online sessions, particularly younger children and those at the primary-school level.
“One of the things we have noticed is that the complaints are coming about children’s attention in the online space. Their computers are on, and they may have several other screens open, or they have games that are being played. The teacher may not necessarily be aware of this,” she notes.
To ensure that active learning is taking place, she suggests that parents set up a dedicated learning centre in the home that is free of distractions, to encourage learning.
“Reduce the distractions within the home environment. Access to other devices should be nowhere near the teaching and learning space. It should be clear of any audio or video or gaming devices that could distract a child. It should be removed from that space,” she advises.
Ms. Kerr also recommends that parents regularly engage children in discussions. This, she says, provides an outlet for children to express their feelings and any challenges they are experiencing.
It also provides an opportunity for parents to clearly explain to children what is expected of them and provide guidance on how they should operate in the online learning environment.
Noting that effective learning takes place during a prolonged period of focused attention, Ms. Kerr suggests that an incentive should be introduced to motivate children.
This should be done in collaboration with the teacher or school to plan for the engagement of that specific child.
“Set parameters as to what the expectations are for this particular period and work with the teachers to come up with incentives for those who are finding it difficult to attend for the duration of the class time, so that both home and school can work together on this to ensure that the children are benefiting fully from the online experience,” Ms. Kerr suggests.
She says allowance for breaks should be included as a reprieve from screen time. Importantly, Ms. Kerr also recommends that parents engage directly with schools via social media and other available channels to encourage discussions on how to ensure that active learning is taking place.
“Keep those lines of communication open, so that the monitoring can be from both ends. The parents must also take responsibility for what is happening in the home and say very frankly what is happening, so they can devise a plan of action. That will help with the monitoring,” she says.
Ms. Kerr is also encouraging parents to familiarise themselves with the Ministry of Education’s Google Suite learning management system, to ensure that the child is able to operate competently within the system.
This, she says, also enables parents to actively participate in the child’s online education.
Pointing out that this is a very difficult time for children, she says the child’s inattentiveness may be due to several factors – the child’s need for additional activities to keep focused, the child’s need for acceleration, more challenging or perhaps reduced work in terms of the amount and or the level that the child is able to manage.
She says causal factors should be investigated to make the necessary adjustments to optimise learning.
Acknowledging that this is a frustrating time for parents as well, Ms. Kerr urges patience and understanding.
“Coping with COVID in itself is difficult and many of our children may have lost family members too, so we don’t know what the distractions really are. What we are seeing as children [testing] boundaries could very well be something else that is prompting or causing them to disengage. We want to look at it from all angles to ensure that our children feel supported at this time,” she says.