Almost everybody agrees that returning to school is at least a few months away. Even that would probably happen in a sluggish and phased manner.
All over the world, schools are engaging children online — where the internet and adequate digital devices are available with families.
It does start to get monotonous, if we do not keep improvising this model.
Many schools have improvised this model:
1. To make it more engaging.
2. To enable parent-child engagement at home.
There are truly many other opportunities for learning if the family also gets involved. Depending on the age of the children at home, they can be engaged in say, sky watching, at different times of the day: when it is a typical sunny day, when it is overcast or raining (the types of clouds, the water cycle, etc.), or on a clear night (the sky, stars, planets, etc.).
We have to calibrate the extent of learning depending on the child’s age. Look around at your homes, and many things we as adults have taken for granted will have science elements and technology elements to it. It is so fascinating that there are so many things around and outside us.
Most homes have cooking gas, a microwave oven, a garden, a washing machine, a phone, an air-conditioner maybe, old photograph albums which itself is wealth for you to help children understand the family lineage… Depending on the home you live in, and the families, there are different things that offer opportunities for ‘learning’, and also for enriching activities that the parent & student should engage in.
The school can provide the impetus by suggesting these activities during the online sessions, even better send them workbooks and activity books, accompanied by a kit designed, developed, and distributed by schools to the homes. These kits will align with the age group of the student at homes. And the kits will have all the materials and ‘accessories’ and tools that are required for children to perform activities in active collaboration with parents. Such activities are designed to encourage higher-order thinking, problem-solving, and constructivism in learning. This could also potentially reduce the screen time that children are being exposed to — a serious debate that is currently going on in the media and among expert groups.
During a typical day of ‘going to school’, some of the opportunities for learning from nature and the environments we live in do get mitigated: mainly, because of the common time that is available for parents to engage with children. It could be because the children are away at school for the most part of the day, and the parents are also busy in their own worlds and work environments. Many of us tend to bring ‘work’ related problems ‘home’.
If this period is not leveraged to the best extent possible, the precious time, and the quality of engagement with children — at home, with family — could be lost and we may never get to reclaim it.
In this era of the pandemic, when there is substantial overlap for families to spend valuable time with children provides several important and unique opportunities: help children understand our culture, the social issues, the economic issues, the traditions – basically, the family’s value systems and belief systems. This is a time to ensure that the next generation is deeply rooted in family culture, beliefs, and traditions, as otherwise it would get diluted from one generation to the next. All this combined in a way is the ‘purpose of our lives’. We do not want our next generation to forget it, and not even dilute it.
It is not healthy to let alone dilute our ‘purpose of life’; it is unhealthy to mimic or copy what is not natural to us, our native traditions, our way of life, and our behaviour. When they grow and get to travel and see the world, they will learn a lot and will be capable of making the right decisions. But the foundation has to be laid for it now, and that is all about family upbringing. I believe that there is no one ‘right’ template for the upbringing of the child. It is unique to each family. But that is probably the greatest influencer of one’s lives.
The extended nCOVID pandemic time has possibly given us the opportunity and time to work on the ‘upbringing’ of our children. Let us not lose this ‘opportunity’! We can, in our ways, contribute to creating the next generation that is more responsible socially and environmentally, with better emotional strength, higher tolerance to diversity, and better prepared for the challenges of life.