GETTING THE MOST FROM VIRTUAL EDUCATION
Fueled by the COVID-19 shutdowns of spring 2020, virtual education is booming alongside virtual business meetings. It’s entirely possible that your children will still be attending via computer come the 2020–21 school year, as a partial or full replacement for traditional “going to school.”
Assuming your family isn’t in the truly disadvantaged category and you have a working online computer for the kids to use, there are still many concerns surrounding the whole idea of virtual education. Of course, there are also advantages.
- You spend less time getting ready for school in the morning, and traffic/transportation problems are eliminated.
- Kids who were bullied or had social problems at school (or on the bus) are often relieved to be spared that environment.
- You can organize the “school” setup according to your own convenience, and use equipment you’re already familiar with (or can practice with on your own time).
- If the kids aren’t ready to stay home alone, working parents have to adjust their own schedules.
- No amount of virtual contact is a fully adequate substitute for seeing friends (and learning social skills) in person.
- There’s often a technical learning curve involved—and everyone (including the teachers) is often dealing with a different knowledge level and different technical difficulties, which can make it hard to coordinate the program.
Whether you personally lean toward the “pro” or the “con” side, odds are your family will have to deal with virtual education, either next school year or eventually. Here are some tips for navigating it smoothly.
- Put aside any prejudices. Just because an approach is strange to you doesn’t mean it’ll emotionally damage your children. Affirm to yourself that the team of you, your child, and the school will make this work out for the best. Focus on the positive whenever discussing the situation with others, especially your child.
- If there’s any possibility the virtual arrangement will interfere with family routine—whether it’s a matter of a parent working outside the home or of more children than computers—the time to work out the best win-win plan with the help of school officials/employers/babysitters is immediately. Don’t sit around worrying that the other parties will be “unreasonable,” and don’t demand your preferred solution without listening empathetically to others’ concerns.
- Create a “school” area in your home, where all necessary materials for classes and assignments are within convenient reach, and the student isn’t in others’ way or vice versa. If the “school” computer is used by other family members, allot fair space for everyone’s work and supplies.
- Test your virtual app and connections in advance (the school may offer training sessions) so login problems won’t be exacerbated by trying to think under “late-for-class” stress. If you’re having real difficulty, don’t hesitate to ask technical support, or your school contact, for help.
- Make sure that school days include breaks for exercise and lunch.
- Look up advice for homeschooling parents: much of what works for them will also be relevant to the “semi-homeschooling” virtual approach.
- Have fun! Any learning experience can be an adventure when approached with the right attitude.