Curfew Diaries : The e-learning experiment

One of the biggest debates raging among parents of students in private schools these days is whether to go for e-learning or wait till schools reopen. There are many unanswered questions and it is not an easy decision. E-learning offers many benefits and opportunities, especially for older children who can self-manage and self-direct. But for younger children, families with multiple children, families with newborn babies or parents who work full time, the benefits of e-learning may be outweighed by the stress and challenges it presents. Moreover it’s unclear how well younger kids will internalize concepts learned via e-learning.

So we’re stuck with two options – neither of them ideal and not much assurance of what to do. Some of us will go for the e-learning rather than wait till schools reopen and do the best we can. That is the option my family will likely choose.

Like everything else about this pandemic, the e-learning will be an experiment. While I’m pretty sure my sixth grader can manage, I’m not confident my third grader will acquire all the skills and knowledge she needs via e-learning.

At the same time, providing access to learning – even if it’s just the core skills needed to progress is invaluable, especially during a time of upheaval. In previous periods of human history, when pandemics and epidemics leveled entire continents, children would have lost all opportunity to study and learn and societies might enter periods of decline.
My kids also do loads of other non-academic learning. They cook and have household chores. They draw, paint, knit and crochet, loom and build legos. They play puzzles and dress up and imaginative games. They play basketball and jump rope. They are, in short, spending a lot of this stay at home time playing and being children. Spending a few hours a day learning math, writing and reading can only supplement all the learning that is taking place and hopefully not add too much stress and anxiety to our days.

Our children may have to repeat in the fall what they should have learned this spring. They may not get everything they need via e-learning and what they do get may not be deep enough or internalized enough to take root. But as with most experiments, there is value simply in the trying. We don’t know how well this will work, what challenges it may present, what successes or failures will result. But we won’t know unless we embark on the experiment.

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