Prepared By: Elizabeth Sawyer, CEO Bennett International Education Consultancy
COVID-19 has turned the worldwide education landscape topsy turvy, and parents are having to make decisions about their children’s education the likes of which they’ve never had to make before. For international and domestic assignees, the decisions are multiplied as they decide whether or not to accept an assignment and move their families to a new place with new schooling possibilities and uncertainties.
We’ve been hearing all kinds of questions and concerns from parents, many of them to do with online learning and how to assess them and how to oversee their children’s studies from home. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to their questions, but we’ve put together a few tips that may provide some reassurance and guidance as parents decide how and where to educate their children this fall. These are particularly for those parents whose children will be learning from home and also for parents who may be choosing their own online program if they’re not satisfied with what their child’s school is offering.
- As you explore possible programs and which one is “best,” and start to get overwhelmed, think of your children and who they are—how they learn best, what gets them interested, whether they need frequent or few breaks, etc. There is no “best” program—it’s a matter of getting the right fit, just like with schools.
- Consider how much of the program is “live” with a teacher online and how much of it consists of your child studying independently. Also consider the timing of live sessions and how that fits with your overall structuring of a school day.
- If your child would benefit from additional supports such as a tutor, consider hiring a professional teacher/tutor to provide these supports. There’s a reason why teachers are trained, and though adults may know more than kids, this doesn’t mean that they can teach well. Hiring an outside professional will give your children variety and expertise and will also save you and your friends from deforming their nice easy relationship with your kids!
- Encourage your kids to take breaks, and if possible, have them be outdoors. Remember that in a traditional school day, kids of all ages have constant breaks built into the schedule, even if they’re short–just walking from class to class or going to recess. Little kids in particular need to be allowed to move and will focus all the better for it.
- Consult your kids on how to structure the day in a way that suits them and will help them focus. If they have a hand in creating the schedule, they’ll be more invested in it. As the Montessorians say, “follow the child.”
- Have your kids join you in creating an inviting and practical workspace, if possible separate from where they do other activities.
- Confer with parents and friends in your community to see if you can combine forces in some way, either for academics or outdoor activities, and make your events a regular occurrence.
As you worry about whether or not your children are getting “behind,” maybe it will be reassuring to remember that everyone is in the same boat right now. Children all over the globe have had their education disrupted and we’ve all fallen behind in some way. We’ll make it up over time!