Children who do not accept online learning are falling behind.Parents can do this


Noah Valentine thinks he will be caught when he starts to use robot extensions to automatically join his online courses. But as the time extended from December to February, none of the teachers in his project noticed that he was really not there.

“For a while things got very dark, I just didn’t have any motivation,” said the 15-year-old Edmonton student.

Noah said that he did not develop any software himself; he just combined multiple robots so that his computer would join each class, said “Hi” when his name was asked to participate, and then signed at the end of the course.

“No one noticed it. I was really surprised because I thought it was obvious that someone just sat there for 45 minutes without answering anything. That, like, not really.”

Noah participated in the full-time online learning option in Alberta, which he said was “no connection.” His mother, Sally Valentine, said that his grades had fallen from the 90s to a basic failure in his 9th grade.

She said that when Noah told her about these robots, she talked with Noah about the potential consequences. “But I listened to some of his lessons…like,’I don’t blame him. It’s really boring.'”

Mental health and education experts say that contact—the thing that Noah said was missing from his curriculum—is one of the most important parts of children and teenagers’ lives.

Kelly Gallagher-McKay, associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and co-author of the book, said that connecting with peers is usually what makes high school students interested in school, while close interpersonal relationships are The key to the development of young children Challenge the limit: how schools can prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s challenges.

Experts say that contact is also something that regains children’s interest in school and helps them recover from the isolation of COVID-19.

Christina Fiorda takes a selfie with her 10-year-old son Aiden. (Submitted by Christina Fioda)

Aiden Caranci from Maple, Ontario is another young student who cannot adapt to online learning. The 10-year-old child has autism and cannot speak, but he has recently learned to use a tablet-like device to communicate through pictures.

“When we try to do it online [school] ——Forget it, it’s impossible,” Aiden’s mother Christina Fioda said. “If I took out the computer, he would say,’Uh, uh. ‘”

Fiorda said that now, when Aiden can complete a 15 or 20-minute online course with the help of his behavioral therapist, it is a victory. He used to go to school two days a week.

Fiorda said that the social progress that Aiden made through years of treatment was wiped out during the pandemic. Now, as long as someone comes to their house, he will hide. She is also worried that he and his sister always associate school with confusing changes, wearing masks and worrying about the virus.

So what can parents and caregivers do?

‘Back to basics’

Mellanie Fraser, a mental health coordinator and counseling therapist for the Fort McMurray Public School District in Alberta, says that children and young people need to re-adjust to face-to-face interactions with others.

She counsels students, parents and teachers through devastating wildfires and floods in the area, economic recession, and now COVID-19.

Fraser said: “We will have to go back to the basics with the children, turn off the computer, turn off the TV and video, only talk to the children, and teach them how to deal with interaction.”

She recommends listening to your children talk about anything they want to talk about, even Pokemon or video games. This will help them re-adapt to reading body language and other cues that we don’t always see through online interactions.

Fraser said it will also let them know that you are a safe conversation person, which means they are more likely to ask you for support next time they encounter difficulties.

Nancy Marchese, a psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst for Breakthrough Autism, is shown in this 2016 file photo. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Nancy Marchese is a psychologist and board-certified behavioral analyst at Breakthrough Autism in Richmond Hill, Ontario, where Aiden Caranci is being treated.

She said that if possible, she strongly recommends sending the children to camping this summer, or having a safe outdoor party with another child in the class before school starts in September.

“Social isolation is very challenging for children, including [autism] Spectrum,” Marchese said. “I think we need to take this into consideration: how can we help support children on a social level?

Fraser also warned that some children would say that they want to continue learning online in September because they are worried about dealing with peers and teachers again. But she said that parents who agree to this approach may make their children’s social anxiety “become a bigger monster.”

Highly rate your child’s potential

Some parents may be surprised to discover how they can most effectively participate in their children’s education.

Gallagher-Mackay said that parents can do more through “soft participation”—such as expressing high expectations for their children and encouraging good work habits—rather than helping with homework.

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She said it also helps to respect the value of teachers and education, and pointed out the way school curricula can be applied to the real world.

“Parents are sometimes angry about the school system for good reasons. But when the family and the school can be on the same page… this often promotes learning.”

Focus on fun

Marchese said that focusing on the interesting parts of school will help children with special needs return to their daily lives.

Kids who love music will benefit from joining their online class for five minutes, for example, when there is a song, even if they can’t stand the whole class.

This strategy can work in the last week of school in June or the beginning of September.

“Let’s start to reconnect the school with all the great things in the school,” she said.

Relax and study…

Both Fraser and Gallagher-Mackay said that parents should try not to worry too much about short-term academic performance, such as some bad grades.

Gallagher-Mackay said that planning with teachers to do some “just-in-time tuition” before September may be more effective than reviewing a large amount of material throughout the summer.

Fraser added that for young people, it now feels more important to connect with their families and peers than to catch up with them academically. She said that when her parents told her that they were planning to hire a tutor, she challenged them: “Is this your pressure and pressure, or your child?”

“Your child needs to be social. Your child needs to know how it feels to play,” she said.

…But if you can, you can save points

One exception is those children who fail the course or fail the whole year; Gallagher-Mackay says that families should do everything they can to save these credits. Many teachers are more flexible this year and are likely to accept late work.

She said that research has found that repeating courses is related to negative outcomes in the future, such as dropping out of high school.

“I think the theory is… when we think we are not good at it, we don’t learn,” Gallagher McKay said. “When we play to their strengths, children will learn better.”



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