How Virtual Education Impacts Families

Virtual education has become a part of our everyday life in the past decade, with online workshops, virtual training, and much more. But now that schools and students have no choice in the matter due to COVID, it has become the default in every household.

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

Online learning has taken every structure out of the everyday lives of children. There’s no longer the need to get up early, get dressed, and show up on time. This has a huge impact on learning, and the overall mental health of children. Although we all hate getting up in the morning, now more than ever, people are beginning to realize the importance of a well-rounded routine. This lack of structure can be highly demotivating and can ruin the entire day for students. Other than that, having constant distractions in every corner doesn’t help self-motivation either.

This is why other family members, especially parents working remotely must be cautious about the learning curve this entails, and look for signs that they should worry about. This can be done by creating an environment as close as possible to what a school environment gives children. Don’t nag them when they have a short break between classes, and don’t give them more tasks during the day than necessary.

Other students have no problem self-motivating, in fact, they strive when they can learn at their own pace, and in their home environment. Students who had a lot of extracurricular activities, and a lot on their shoulders can finally breathe, and focus on what truly matters, which is finishing the school year better than ever. But whether a student can adapt to this massive change doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle for everyone. There needs to be a finely tuned boundary between school and home life, and this is where teachers and parents come in. Children will eventually go back to school, so parents and teachers need to be ready to transition back to that way of living in a proactive manner. When their children eventually go back to school, they may be going into a higher grade, which will mean scouting for new schools, whether that is middle schools in the Bronx or high schools in their local district, this will certainly be another big change they will have to face. Teachers will need to adapt to new classes coming in as well. Everyone in the education system is going to feel heavy with this.

Teachers can have a really hard time adapting, especially if they don’t have the talent for today’s technology. Communication between students and teachers has never been harder, which not only makes studying harder, but schools suffer as well. Teachers have to have the upper hand in this situation, creating a feeling of calm and safety for students. Furthermore, they should be available for students just like before the virus reared its ugly head. Students may also feel like their workload has grown, even if it hasn’t. This is because of the lack of motivation, their nonexistent structure, and the hopelessness of the overall situation. This is also felt by every person working remotely, as even if you’re the most motivated person in the world, this will be a hard change to get used to.

Parents and other family members under the same roof can help ease students into this change, by trying to keep the environment as normal as possible. Of course, this can be hard, especially if parents are working from home as well, or if the family lives in tight quarters. It’s very important to discuss the boundaries between work, school, and home life. Even if it’s uncomfortable, or you have absolutely no idea how to go about it, it’s the number one priority. Have a family discussion about what the changes will be, what each family member needs to ensure a smooth day, and what the boundaries are for the entire family, and for each member. And after that discussion, these lines should not be crossed. This goes for both students and parents as well.

Some families also struggle with access to reliable technology. Most families share computers, laptops and tablets, or sometimes have no home technology at all. This won’t be an issue for those pupils who attend a private school, with the average cost of a private school term being far more than the cost of a tablet needed to complete online lessons. This will only widen the gap between the rich and the poor, so whilst some families may struggle to even connect to wifi, other families may enjoy the luxury of one computer, laptop and tablet per family member. Now that each and every family member is in need of these items every day, it can be the hardest thing to adapt to. Those who don’t have the financial ability to purchase a laptop for every child in the household are struggling to organize gadgets in the house.

Teachers need to be even more present, and even though it’s hard for them as well, they need to become educators and partners next to remaining teachers. As for the parents, they too need to be allies while remaining parents. Although it’s hard on everyone, it is the duty of parents and teachers to ensure the normal life of a student. This can be done by constant communication and support, and the understanding of students’ needs. If a child feels understood and feels a wall of support behind them, they will put in that extra effort to make this easier for their parents as well as for themselves. This independence and confidence will instill values any school or employer will be looking for.