Online classes and here is where we as parents are getting it wrong

Until the start of academic year 2020-21, we parents were blissfully unaware of the teaching methodology in school- yes most of us looked at the syllabus, home work, prepared our wards for competitions and various activities in school and asked them about what did they learn at school- but we weren’t physically present to see the teaching methodology.

But this academic year had something in store for all of us that we never ever envisioned. With Covid and most schools having started online classes for kids, its the parents who are now a part of the classroom. For kids studying in pre- primary and lower primary, parents or caregivers have to be present during the session to take care of the muting , un muting of voice, starting the video etc. My daughter’s online classes started 3 weeks ago and its been quite an experience for me. The good part is its just for 1.5 hours or sometimes even lesser with 5 minutes break given twice and its quite doable. Neither of us found it stressful.

During the course of 3 weeks, observing the sessions, children and teacher interaction and numerous whats app chats on the parents group, I made a few observations on some of the things we as parents or guardians are not getting right, maybe its a sub conscious thing but its important to recognize these.

  1. One thing that really amused me is parents prompting kids very often when they are asked questions by the teacher, someone mentioned on the whats app group “if we don’t help them and they cant answer, they will feel bad”. Here is the thing- they wont always have answers to every question, they need to learn its ok to not know everything and why not start early? When a Bollywood star recently committed suicide there were many posts doing the rounds on why we need to teach our kids its ok to fail. Parents were sharing this enthusiastically but when it came to putting it in practice for the own kids they failed miserably. I did help my daughter on a very few occasions, she doesn’t need help most of the time as she is attentive in class and studies regularly, plus is well conversant in English which makes it easier for her to comprehend whats being taught. However she did have that occasional slip and I chipped in but I felt its ok to let her not know the answer. On one occasion she just gaped mutely at the screen and I told her “Its ok just say you don’t know the answer” and she did that. She did feel bad but that helped us in 2 ways -a) she started being more accountable for her studies, while she is attentive most of the time there is this occasional slip when the mind wanders , but she was more conscious for those 15-20 minutes of lesson after this incident. b) she learnt its ok to not know answers , while she still feels bad , with time I know it will get better. “You did the best you could and its ok to not know everything. You learnt something new now!”

If we are ever ready to spoon feed them every answer just to make them feel good, when will they ever learn to be self reliant and when wil they learn the life lesson of failure?

2. Lets not dumb it down and underestimate our kids. I was guilty of this too. I enrolled Angel in a new school this year and the syllabus was quite different from the traditional school she was used to from the past 2 years. Here they are teaching 5 year olds all about internal organs- the digestive system, respiratory system, etc. While it seemed too much to digest initially and I was take aback as I compared this to what I learnt as a kid, we learnt all this much later perhaps in 3rd or 4th grade. I couldn’t fathom how kids this young would be able to comprehend such complex words and how the internal organs work. But here’s the thing. They are smarter than we think they are, its we who dumb it down. We often make the mistake of comparing them to ourselves, without realizing they are different individuals in a different era! I gradually realized Angel is able to comprehend stuff, she does have questions and I need to explain some of the things to her but she gets the sequence and can retain it too.

I still find parents complaining about the syllabus when there are no exams and this is just meant to equip the children with general knowledge, why not be more open in our thoughts and see how much the kids can retain?

3. A lot of parents have been complaining that they need to be present with kids and take their studies after the online class- this was something which I found amusing. Online class or no, you need to spend time with your kids specially those in lower classes teaching them, revising and making sure they get the concepts right. This is when a strong foundation is built. The school has not come out with a mandate that parents need to do this, while certain activities have been built around Parent Child Interaction , its up to you as a parent to walk that extra mile or choose not to do it. My mom has walked more than a few miles when we were young in helping us get our basics right and my professional success to a great extent is attributed to her efforts. This is what I as a parent choose to do for my daughter. Another parent may not want to do it, its their choice , but so is the outcome then. I don’t see the point of complaining against the school and teachers and expecting our kids are going to digest ever thing at one go, without we as parents deciding to dedicate time to them.

Its never easy being a parent and the older your child grows, the more challenging it gets. I sometimes laugh at my early days as a parent and the misconception I had that it will get better as they grow older- it never does!

There is never a perfect or right way of raising them, but being aware of our unconscious bias, being wiling to accept that we may have got it wrong and make amends – this is what its all about.

I do know the online classes are taking a toll on kids in some schools where the system is barbaric to say it just as it is- and I do hope the situation gets better.

Do share your views on this topic, I look forward to hearing from you.

14 thoughts on “Online classes and here is where we as parents are getting it wrong

  1. Nice article Akshata touching on various aspects of online classes but I must disagree about time spent with kids. I love spending time with my kids teaching them all kids of things. But I don’t believe attending online classes with them is a productive use of anyone’s time especially if it is for more than a couple of hours a day.

    I have always taught my kids to be independent about school work (1st grade on wards). I do not interfere in their school work, unless they ask for help. They know it’s their job to maintain grades, and ask for help if they are having trouble with anything. I never check on homework or anything else. If they want help with a project, they have to ask for it and providing the school expects me to help, I do. But on time completion is still their responsibility, not mine.

    That said, I enjoy supplementing their school education by teaching them loads of stuff either related to or completely unrelated to what they learn in school, but in my own way. Now if I have to sit through school classes (which i do at least for my 1st grader) it becomes difficult to make separate time for what I want to teach them. However in these unusual times I am happy to help them through the school stuff as well. But then I’d rather follow the school syllabus more efficiently at my convenience without the screen time, especially in our case as you know the hours are long with 5 classes a day (They finally brought it down from 6 to 5 for the 5 year olds).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thx Kanika for sharing your thoughts. I find online classes useful in our case as it’s just 1.5 hours or sometimes shorter, certainly not recommended for longer hours. When it comes to how much time a parent chooses to spend on their ward’s studies, I know there are divergent views. While I do think it’s good to make them independent and accountable I also feel building a strong base is something where a parent has to be involved atleast In the formative years.

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  2. I hear you Akshata. In Australia, we did whole Term 2 (April-June end) via Webex and I was finally in her class, something I wanted for long. It had a positive impact on her and as you said, some parents needs mentoring more than kids. I poured down my thoughts on a post back in May and I believe it had some similar pointers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a lot to share.
    1. It has become more evident that parents and schools do not trust each other. The virus made this discussion come to the forefront. I have had numerous discussions with my other friends too who have kids in the age group of 5 to 8 years and they have been very anxious. These parents are having conversations about school and teachers in presence of their kids without realising that they are listening and forming an impression about their mentors. Parents feel Kids are not mature enough but mind well they are observing.
    2. Revise and practice are important aspects of learning, so online or offline; parents have to help out their kids. The entire burden of learning cant be placed on the schools just because we are paying fees. I was one of the parent who believed that I am paying a huge amount so its the school’s responsibility but as soon as I started just spending an hour daily with Mishti, just sitting besides her while she studied, improved her academic performance substantially. So it matters. Mind well a tuition teacher cant replace your presence. Again a misconception with parents.
    3. While Mishti was in primary school she wasn’t a A grader not because she didn’t have the intelligence or lack of interest in academic subjects but only because I wasn’t paying enough attention even after being a stay- at -home mom. I wanted her to be an independent learner so I thought I should not interfere but all she wanted my undivided attention and just a validation from me that she is right. Once I started giving that, her grades improved. From a B , C in grade 4 she went on to score A+ and A in most subjects. Again I never emphasised on the grades. I never compared her to other kids. All her closest friends have been A+ students. That helped, because now she was not jealous of her friend but wanted to learn from her. Both studied together and encouraged each other to do well. we have changed Mishti’s school this year yet they do video calls once a week to solve mathematics problems together. She made a life long relationship with her which is much more important and will help her excel academically as well. So it’s the parent who unconsciously puts this in the child’s mind that others could answer and you couldn’t so that’s bad. Like you mentioned we have to remind the child that it’s fine if one cant answer.

    If schools monitor the number of hours a child spends during online school, the children will enjoy it as they also are missing social interaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thx Aesha so glad I got your comment as I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. I will talk to you privately on the school change as I put Angel to Mishti’s old school this year. As you say , while it’s good to encourage kids to be independent , having their parents by their side who take interest in their studies helps to a great extent. We cannot put the onus on the school on the pretext of fee payment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You should know that one of my friends was alsosaying some of the parents at her son’s medical college were wondering why they should.continue paying such high fees for online classes

        Liked by 1 person

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