The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything.
From how we shop to how we travel, how we entertain ourselves to how we see our loved ones, everything has changed. Whilst these changes were certainly thrust upon us unexpectedly, we often fail to realise the huge impact it has had on our children too.
During the height of lockdown around the world, around 1.2 billion children were away from their classrooms and learning at home. The UK lockdown began for schools on 20 March and only recently have children began to return to the classroom. This was obviously met with some trepidation, and during the time children were learning at home, many were using online learning, alongside the help and support of parents.
Online learning has its haters, but it is also a very effective way to learn and a good way to teach children accountability for their own education and learning experience. Whilst younger children tend to need more support in online learning, simply because they tend to need more structure to their learning than older children, there are countless sites and tools online now which are available for children to use. During lockdown, many of these sites opened up their resources to children for free, when they would normally charge for a premium subscription.
So, what are the benefits of online learning, and how can we make sure that our children get the most out of it, in order to ensure they don’t miss out on their educational quality during the pandemic we’re currently trying to navigate our way through?
The Benefits of Online Learning
Online learning may not suit everyone, but there are enough resources and approaches now to adapt learning towards your child.
However, online learning overall has many benefits.
Online Learning Teaches Technological Skills
Most children are pretty adept at using the Internet and various devices these days, but online learning presses home the need for technological skills in general. This sets your child up very well for their future, as the world becomes even more technological than before.
Children can learn on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or even a phone, but setting them up somewhere comfortable and supportive is key. The idea behind online learning during the lockdown is that it is going to replace lessons. Whilst children aren’t at school, they need to be comfortable and able to concentrate. This means not sitting them in the living room with the TV on in the background!
Overall however, lockdown online learning has certainly boosted the technological skills of this generation of youngsters and shown them that the Internet is not just for playing games and messing around.
Online Learning Teaches Accountability
For children that are old enough to grasp the concept of why they need to learn at home rather than at school, online learning is a good way to teach them accountability for their education. There is no teacher there to push them to read or do an exercise and whilst as a parent, you’ll be there for help and support, it just isn’t the same thing as the classroom. This change in environment can be difficult for a child to thrive within at first, but over time most children become to grasp the change and even revel in it. The novelty is often what pushes them to keep up with their lessons and as that wears off, it’s up to you as a parent to keep them on schedule.
They will learn that if they don’t do their lessons, they will fall behind and then when they return to school they will be lacking in the knowledge that their fellow classmates have. All of this is ideal for teaching children accountability in their actions, or their non-action as the case may be.
Online Learning Ensures Children Don’t Miss Out on Education
The lockdown meant that chidden were at home for long periods of time and that could have easily meant that they missed out on their educational time completely. If we didn’t have the technology that we have, can you imagine the problems? Children would have been a term or more behind, and that would have been extremely difficult to catch up. However, we have the Internet, and we are able to utilise that to ensure that children don’t miss out on their education.
Teachers are also able to put together lessons that can be done at home and email these to parents to help the child stay on top of their curriculum. Using other tools alongside this, children can actually move forwards, rather than staying still, or even worse, moving backwards.
Online Learning Teaches Children a Sense of Responsibility And Independence
For a child who is used to learning in a classroom with their friends around them, suddenly being in lockdown and having to learn at home would have been a huge shock. However, online learning can also help your child to become more independent and be responsible for their own educational needs. A little earlier we mentioned that this type of learning teaches accountability but it also shows your child that they need to be responsible for their own questions and asking their parents if they don’t understand.
In the right and supportive circumstances, children can also benefit from increased confidence as they find that they are able to learn more on their own than they ever realised.
Online Learning Allows Children to Learn in a Way Which Suits Them
Not every child learns effectively in the same way, and online teaching is a good way to allow children to explore their particular learning niche. There are countless tools online that helps children to learn and follow the UK curriculum. Parents can help their child to find the best resource for them by looking into different options and they can try a few out to find the right one. Some children prefer to read whilst others like to be more active with creative exercises. Both options help children to learn, whilst not every child flourishes in both. Online teaches gives more flexibility to and the right route for each particular child and therefore gives them more chance of educational success over time.
Online Learning May Help Children to Retain Information Better
Many studies have shown that online learning could actually help some children to retain information far better and that it may take less time to do so. Of course, every child is different, but for those whom it benefits, this is a very useful tool to tap into.
Helping Your Child With Online Learning
In order for your child to get the most out of online learning, now the lockdown is over, if we ever face another in the future, and for their home learning in general, it’s important to take an active part in it too.
There are so many resources online that it’s a good idea to so some research into the most effective. You’l find reviews online for different educational platforms and you can speak to your child’s teacher to ask for advice on which is the best option. The fact that many of these platforms are currently free during the pandemic is also a good opportunity to try a few out. However, do make sure that your chosen platform or app follows the UK school curriculum, as some may be geared more towards American school children, etc.
Whilst there are many benefits of online learning, we can’t avoid the fact that it’s no real substitute for in-classroom lessons. At the time of writing, children have returned to the classroom but the Covid situation is so fast-moving that we have no true picture of how long this may be for. The Government are trying to keep schools open as much as possible and for as long as possible and whilst we all hope that we can conquer the current pandemic quickly, and without any more damage to education and the economy, the good news is that the online world is there to catch us when we need another option.
If your child struggled with online learning, it may be that a few changes simply need to be made. Look at the device they’re using, where it is and how it is set up, how comfortable they are, whether there are any distractions close by, and also look at the platform and tools they’re using. Also remember that children need to have regular breaks, especially from screens.
With a few minor adjustments, it’s possible for every child to gain something from online learning and the vast majority find this to be a very useful and very beneficial way of learning. Whether this is for the short-term or over the long-term, remains to be seen, but the sheer number of children who were learning online during the UK lockdown shows that it can be done when necessary and that it is a great way to ensure that education isn’t pushed to one side.