Parents across India are worried about their little ones.
The coronavirus has successfully managed to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. The virus and the disease have made us think, adapt and improvise our day to day tasks. Some of the crucial decisions that the government needed to undertake, during this pandemic, were regarding the safety measures of school-goers. The government has acknowledged that and wisely opted for keeping schools closed at least until the near future. This is a respite for parents all over who dread the thought of the sending their children to a setting that could make their child liable to exposure to the virus. Focus is now on educating children at home via online video communication or digital learning. However, we shouldn’t forget that not all students are equipped for learning online. And most importantly the fact that the quality of education imparted has significant part to play in their future success.
Online learning can be divided into two broad categories: one includes online courses (instructional videos and digital content) and the other which includes learning from an instructor. Online learning can not only provide greater access to content and curricula as per need but also help draw the attention of young developing minds through innovative ways of learning. While all this seems like the best option in the current scenario, on the other hand this also increases the risk of isolation, disengagement, and lack of attention. Not to forget the impact on following instructions, a student’s pace of grasping as well as parent involvement which can be difficult especially if they are working to make ends meet.
However the decision to hold classes online for kindergarteners and primary students doesn’t seem like a wise one. Why? First of all-the screen time. Young children should not be subjected to this process according to a report backed by NIMHANS. We should also be privy to the attention span of kids; each one learns, imbibes and emulates information at a different speed. This is a difficult task to accomplish in the physical presence of a teacher itself. Thus imagine your child subjected long-time to a screen which that may or may not capture their attention. How are they expected to process all this information at such a young age?
There are a number of factors that discern the quality of education that the young kids need to be provided with. These include learning via group discussion in a close setting. We are also forgetting the vital role of playtime which helps kids socially interact, share, care and bond over. All of which the online learning fails to provide especially for those in the lower primary sections just starting out.
For children at such an age, is digital learning really learning? The amount of time spent in front of the screen has adverse effects on health and gets them addicted to technology. What do they hope to accomplish by holding online classes? Is it just the need that the child should have imbibed certain amount of information forced on them as the syllabus?
This also brings to focus the number of children that do not have access to the technology that could help them connect and learn. What then? A large amount of struggling parents may not have the means to avail and access online learning platforms. Is it fair that parents invest in all of this all the while paying school fees which have been reduced just marginally?
Not only are there potential threats of the internet that the young can be exposed to possible online sexual predation if accessing the internet without the presence of an adult. Thus supervision is key in such a scenario.
In Karnataka, the Education department has decided to pay heed to the report by the NIMHANS and has announced that it will issue a circular in the following days stating that online classes will not be conducted for children up to 6 years of age. A move awaited by. Concerned parents of the young have also expressed the desire of holding back their kids for this year rather than risk their lives.
When we fear that the child may lag behind the real question to ask ourselves at this moment in time is whether this is worth it! We need to find other ways to help the kids’ young minds navigate and instil better ways of learning.