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.
- 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.