Speaking at our radio show conversation on LagosTalksFM, Yetty Williams talks about how learning has changed for children all over the world, during this time. We have to talk about the fact that learning has changed, what’s it changing from what’s it changing to. And when we talk about this specifically with the context of Nigeria, the reality is that our curriculum is still very dated; it is very based on how things used to work, based on a lot of theory and not a lot of practice. So that was always something that needed to evolve and change with the digital age that we live in.
But with the pandemic and the lockdown last year which we’re just starting to come out of, they have highlighted the need for learning to be very flexible so that children can learn on the go, wherever they are; and that learning doesn’t only start and stop in the classroom.
We have a responsibility now to change the focus of our curriculum; ensure we’re raising children who are going to be ready to take on the future which is here; no more teaching them based on the past. There was a quote I heard a while ago that said, “By the time a textbook is printed into this day and age that information is already outdated”; and this is true, as things happen so quickly now in the digital age.
Learning Environment for Children
In terms of learning environments, children need socialization; school to a large extent is not just about the pure knowledge the children get, they learn how to work with other people; they learn teamwork, friendships, dealing with some of the things that are not so pleasant. like not everybody likes you. It is not in our children’s best interest, at least at young ages, for everything to move online; they still need that physical interaction, so when we eventually get back there fully, even now some schools are doing a hybrid model of teaching; where children are coming in some weeks and off some weeks, just to manage the spread of the virus.
It is so important that we teach our children more about how to ask questions, rather than having all the information in their head. So it’s not so much about knowing everything in your head that you have crammed, but rather, being able to apply the right knowledge at the right time; and being able to ask the right questions, so that you get the answers you need; and work with the people you need to work with to get the results you’re looking for. Learning nowadays needs to move towards teaching our children to know how to get information when they need it, and how to apply the things they’ve learned or are learning.It is so important that we teach our children more about how to ask questions, rather than having all the information in their head. Click To Tweet
Taking Different Learning Approaches
There’s so much information out there that we have to be careful that ourselves and our children do not end up drowning in it. The reality is there are a lot of children that are going to need help to bring them back to the level they were before the stoppage of physical school. So, we need to look at curriculum very differently, we need to look at what our children are learning very differently; what do they have to know, and what are the basics that we need to build on. Because when we build on the basics the right way, then our children can thrive, no matter what they find themselves in.
Good educationists right now are not focusing anymore on just the quantity of material that needs to be covered per term; we need children to have positive mental health, we need children who can look for information online, use it in the right way, and have a growth mindset. There’s a lot of research that shows that the jobs that children will do down the road are not even created yet. So we’re raising them to potentially take on jobs that haven’t even been thought about yet; so that starts to change the kind of education that our children need, and the kind of mindset that they have.
Parents have a big part to play in this, What are you exposing them to at home? What are you talking about? and what kind of videos are they watching when they are online? because not all screentime is the same, some screentime is bad and junk and some are quality; where they are learning about valuable things that will take them much further than what any textbook can teach them.
Parents’ reaction to School resumption
Parents need to be comfortable asking their child’s school questions. We don’t have to sit at home imagining and worrying ourselves into infinity; we need to ask the school questions. What does it mean for my child who’s staying at home if you have also opened a physical school? Let the school tell you what they mean. For some schools that are more technologically advanced, for example, they are doing it such that as the teacher is teaching physically in school, the children online are also getting that same lesson. In this case, nobody is necessarily at a disadvantage per se because it’s live. Some schools have said they can no longer continue to do both online and physical; so they upload all the materials, that your child needs to listen to or read at their own pace; and many other systems adopted in the country so far.
We must ask the school what their plans are; and if a school cannot support online learning, and you have chosen to do online learning, then you have to make the hard decision of pulling your child out of the school for that period. Parents can do some research and find an online homeschooling curriculum that is affordable and say, “I will support my child with learning, maybe for this next term this way”. Every family, parent and household need to look at what works for them. And the only thing we can agree on is that children cannot stay idle, unsupervised, and not learning. The next question then becomes what is the best way to keep them engaged and keep them learning; no matter the choice you choose to proceed with as a family at this time.
How to Manage the many Learning tools
As parents, we should be open to our child learning by more than reading a physical book; it must be a mix of everything. If a child cannot get access to a physical book, by all means, let them get audiobooks; let them listen, watch videos online, for example from YouTube. Most children will go on YouTube, just to passively consume entertainment, which can sometimes fall under junk; and it is important as a parent to help expose them to educational channels; from reading to science to math concepts to languages. It is almost irresponsible now to allow your child to only consume content online that is not feeding them and teaching them quality information.
And there is no right or wrong on what children can learn or need, so far they are interested; for example, if they are interested in cars to buy them books about cars your child is interested in; whatever it is, buy them books on that topic. Lastly is the audio side of it; some children do very well with audiobooks. Some audiobooks and programs will pause and they will have your child, read the sentence with them. So if a child struggles with any particular word, the child can be helped to learn that particular word again; and then it’s pronounced slowly for them.
Adapting to this new normal
Parents need to be flexible in their approach, that’s why we are not their teachers. So, by default, the way they react to you will be very different than how they react and respond to their teachers. We should realize this so that we don’t end up making the tension so much in the house; where parents are trying to force a school environment down their child’s throat; a child just cannot rationalize the two
The only thing we can do is to support them; one way to do this is to create a schedule, even during a summer holiday. Another is to create somewhere in the house that can be considered a space for learning, preferably outside their rooms. Also, to encourage your child to move around if you have a compound let them go outside and walk around; if you don’t it’s okay they can go to the balcony.
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As parents, we should learn to embrace the change that’s here to stay. The world has changed and we just need to be flexible enough to evolve; and help our children to come out of all of this the best way possible.The world has changed and we just need to be flexible enough to evolve and help our children to come out of all of this the best way possible. Click To Tweet