Sylvan Learning Views the Future of Virtual Learning to be Filled With Possibility
Leading Enrichment and Supplemental Education Brand Suggests Parents Acknowledge the Challenges and Adapt Accordingly.
When schools across the country officially shut down thanks to COVID-19, it forced many students to engage in virtual learning. While it did have its benefits, virtual learning became stressful for families who were all stuck at home together. Parents were often required to balance their own jobs with the task of making sure their children learned concepts they themselves had long since forgotten. Added to this the emotional stress children felt from being separated from their friends, and the result was less than ideal. Now, the entire country looks toward the fall school year with uncertainty and a mix of students who are returning to classrooms, learning from home or even attending Sylvan Learning locations for teachers to help students start the new year on the right foot.
While virtual learning has its challenges, it also has its conveniences. For one, families spent less time commuting, which is especially appealing to those with multiple children who attend different schools. Virtual learning can also be hugely beneficial for families with students who may not be able to attend school due to illness or other stressors. And for some students, virtual learning isn’t even an entirely new concept. Even before the pandemic, some school districts across the country had processes and digital resources in place to ensure students did not miss school due to events like snowstorms. They could carry on with their assignments without missing a beat.
Indeed, once the pandemic is over, some families might want to retain at least some virtual learning options for their children. In order to capitalize on virtual learning and make sure it’s as effective as possible, though, we need to acknowledge the difficulties and adapt accordingly.
The number-one challenge to successful virtual learning is a lack of access to the basic tools that facilitate it. Depending on a student’s socioeconomic status, not all students may have access to devices such as laptops and tablets or even internet access. These students might possess a smartphone at best, and learning on such a tiny screen difficult. Some school districts have responded by purchasing Chromebooks and Internet hotspots for their students, but not every school district has the budget to provide equipment for everyone.
There’s also the social aspect of virtual learning — or lack thereof. It’s hard for kids to not see their friends on a daily basis. This can be especially true for our so-called “littles,” in ages pre-K through third grade. Research shows they learn much better in an in-person environment due to the brain development at those ages. Virtual learning often puts these students at a disadvantage.
For virtual learning to be successful, families need to set up a dedicated space for learning in the home. This spot should be uncluttered and as quiet as possible and set up with the right resources, such as scratch paper for math problems and a good wifi connection. If internet connection is simply not an option, families in different homes can consider pooling resources to make sure their children all have the access they need. Parents should also let their children have some say in where they do their work - within reason. This will give them a sense of control and comfort in a time where there’s not a lot of either.
To that end, parents must avoid pushing their kids too hard and encourage them to take breaks. This is especially true for overachieving students. Learning continues to be of the utmost importance at this time, but parents must do what they can to ensure their children emerge from COVID-19 with their physical, emotional and mental health.