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9 points to get the best out of virtual schooling

In this week’s edition of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s Topic Thursdays, Mental Health Clinician Crystal Johnson reflected on her own learnings as she observed her four-year-old’s first experience with primary school virtually. What emerged is a list of nine things to be aware of so that the experience is beneficial for all.

Virtual school, she said, poses several challenges for the child, parent and teacher and it cements the need of a collaborative approach between parent and teacher.  “As domestic Church….all need to connect in this support and this patience and this love that we have for our children so that we can raise good human beings, who contribute to home and Church and society at large, positively.”


Nine important reminders as you journey with your child/student in virtual schooling

Remember that:

  1. The curriculum would be modified a bit. Some topics may not be covered quickly enough, or may not be covered at all. Globally, educators are doing the best they can to deliver the material creatively and effectively. It is a real trial right now in what works, what doesn’t and what can be covered and to see how much the student can absorb, and what they can’t. “It’s ok for the time being; they will get there eventually.”


  1. Children really want to learn but you must exercise patience, especially when their attention and focus may not be optimal. They are rooting for parents and teachers to come together to guide and support them.


  1. When children go on their breaks, it is not going to be as it formerly was, into the schoolyard, playing and running with their friends to exert energy. Try to ensure that breaktime still feels like a bit of a break time. Use things that bring a very positive atmosphere.


  1. Whenever we are online, regardless of platform, we are actually seeing each other’s home environment, other students. As parents, we must respect the space, the environment and the things seen online. For teachers as well, understand that parents have their rules and situations, and allow students to express pride in their space. If you see anything that belongs to the child, their paintings, take some notice, compliment the little things. They are also allowing teachers into their space, and that is a huge risk. This has to be honoured.


  1. Technology is unreliable. WiFi drops, mics and cameras may not work, links expire etc. This is the reality of it; allow flexibility for things like this to happen. Don’t be stressed. Ask the teachers what is being covered, reach out to other parents via WhatsApp or email, share pics of the work covered with other parents. Make it work. It may feel slow but we are all, globally, experiencing the same things.


  1. Listening to words through a screen is very hard. Children may zone out, lose interest. If they are asking for constant clarification, do not shame or criticise them. We all zone out of our screens at points so this can happen. Give the space and grace for the children to grow, especially the younger ones. It can happen to the older ones too, even though they may be all about the screens.


  1. For parents and teachers be kind to yourself. Many are juggling work and home life.


  1. It may be financially hard and a struggle for some to have laptops and devices. If you have the means to assist another family, do so. This is the time to share and pass on resources. Schools are printing packages for those students without WiFi access.  If parents are having difficulty with transport, help. You can say to a neighbour or another parent: “Let’s take a drive to the school to pick up materials.


  1. Don’t fret over the little things. As domestic Church, we have to remember that we need to enrich the relationship with our children in all spheres and enjoy the journey with them while nurturing the gifts and talents given to them. It is not just about getting the work done but enjoying this moment with them and making it a wholesome experience.

Topic Thursdays air at 2 p.m. weekly via the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission