As COVID-19 rapidly spread across the country, schools shut their doors and classes were moved online in order to slow the spread. The transition to online learning has been hard for teachers who need to change their courses and for students who are left to adapt to the new learning environment. The biggest group of students affected by virtual learning has been elementary grades, with educators and parents noticing a lack in education in this younger demographic.
While online courses do offer a chance for students to miss fewer classes during the pandemic, the learning disadvantages outweigh the positives.
Online learning for many children can be extremely difficult. Students must be organized, self-motivated, and have a high level of time management to do well in an online program. These online learning methods can be an effective alternative educational medium for mature and self-disciplined pupils, but this type of learning environment is unsuitable for younger children.
The challenges of online learning have impacted children to a great extent. They have shown loss of motivation, self-discipline, and many have lost the will to study. In many homes in Ontario, students are left struggling when trying to understand concepts taught, and as online learning causes social isolation, pupils have not developed the necessary communication skills.
Let’s face it, nothing beats being in a classroom. The pandemic has resulted in a significant learning loss for students, both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suggested that virtual learning “might present more risks than in-person instruction related to child and parental health and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors.”
More than 97% of educators have reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years. 57% estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress, and 1/3 of them expect more students to need individual education plans (IEPs).
Being at home is a different pace for kids. Motivation to complete assignments and stay engaged in the class can be extremely challenging. Helping students with time management and creating structure can be helpful, but because the in-class accountability is missing, assignment deadlines often get overlooked.
With virtual learning, students are also lacking group success. Unless there is a collaboration tool in place for small groups to interact together, students can feel frustrated as they are not receiving the same valuable social knowledge as their in-person peers. Lack of interaction has been found to hinder children’s development and cause social withdrawal.
Virtual learning hasn’t been easy on teachers either, as it was overwhelming if they were not adequately trained with new technology. Teachers were expected to become experts in IT, develop and implement virtual friendly assignments, and keep up with their usual workload. Many teachers were left with questions and no support throughout the pandemic, and it proved to be very frustrating for all parties involved.
Educators have hinted at several ways students can make up for lost time once the pandemic ends. Some recommend including 50 hours of targeted instruction over two weeks or high-intensity tutoring equaling 50 minutes of daily tutoring for a year. However, both of these could come at a steep financial cost.
At Dropkick Math we understand the gap in learning that has resulted from virtual learning. Our programs are aimed at students who may be struggling with mathematical concepts or those who need more personalized learning tools. Our programs focus on the four pillars of math and use child-centered, research based techniques and strategies.
We believe in building the parent or caregiver’s capacity of mathematics to adequately support a child’s journey in math. Through building relationships, we help build a child’s confidence and help to fill in any learning gaps they may have from virtual learning.