Our Struggles With Online Distance Learning And How We Overcome Them

Sep 6, 2020 | Mom Life

The purpose of this post is not to badmouth or complain. We are merely sharing the challenges we encountered early on. To be fair, our online classes are smooth-sailing now, but still with few roadblocks along the way.

I can’t believe we’re done with the first month of Online Distance Learning. Time flies really fast, right?

I have to admit that over the past month, my kids’ schooling has been a challenge. The last time I was THAT stressed out was during my law school years. The husband and I cannot commit with homeschooling and the idea of deferring for a year is not among our options, so we decided to enroll our girls in their current school. Plus, we don’t have an alternative so they better continue their education despite the limitations caused by Covid-19.

As expected, the transition wasn’t easy and smooth-sailing. To be honest, I lowered my expectations for this school year because everything else is new to us. There were several struggles along the way, which i want to share with you as well as what we did to make our lives easier.

STRUGGLE NO. 1: SHORT ATTENTION SPAN

My kids, especially the youngest, have short attention span. Unless they’re watching something they like or playing with their gadgets, it’s hard to keep them still. This was among my kids’ early struggles during the first two weeks. Admittedly, my eldest kept on yawning while my youngest couldn’t help but stand up every now and then. At some point, they were bored just looking at the screen and listening to their teachers.

How we addressed it: To be honest, we’re still working on it. Haha! Nonetheless, I encouraged them to take quickie breaks while on their spot like stretching, standing, or shaking their hands whenever they feel bored. Quick breaks are a must for these kids and thankfully, the school imposes five-minute break before the start of every subject.

STRUGGLE NO. 2: RETENTION IN LEARNING

This is among my biggest concerns on Online Distance Learning. It will be more challenging for teachers to determine whether or not the student understood the lesson. Most of the time, teachers could tell based on the student’s face if s/he is having difficulty. Because of ODL, kids could turn off their camera and simply say they got the topic.

My kids’ short attention span are not helpful as well, which could adversely affect their ability to retain what were discussed during the day.

How we addressed it: Review, review, and review. We don’t do advance reading but we make sure to review their lessons for the day. Repetition works for my kids, which is helpful in making sure that they will remember what were discussed.

STRUGGLE NO. 3: ESTABLISHING A STUDY SCHEDULE

This was among our early struggles. In fact, our first week was so stressful because we don’t have an established schedule yet. We don’t know what to expect and we’re all adjusting to how the flow of classes will be. As a result, emails and tasks became overwhelming and stressful. It also took so much of our time since I have to check both the girls’ emails.

How we addressed it: I printed and pasted copies of their schedules so they know what classes they’re taking on a given day. As much as possible, we encourage independence and having a sense of responsibility since I won’t be with them all the time.

I also tend to be strict with our daily schedule. Review is part of our daily routine, so we train the kids to review their lessons anytime before dinner. All homework and other tasks they weren’t able to finish must be done as well. It was a struggle, as usual, with tons of why’s and whining whenever I tell to study.

Eventually, they got used to it. They understood and embraced their routine over the next few weeks. At times, they insist on finishing their tasks right away so they “could relax and rest.” They looked forward to “Quiet Time” after dinner where they can read a book, watch an episode of their favorite series, or play games with their dad.

STRUGGLE NO. 4: DIARY OF A WORKING MOM

I really have a hard time juggling work with kids at home. Before, it was easier for me to get tasks done so I could focus on them as soon as we get home. Now, my eldest has to use my laptop and the only time I can attend to work is when they’re already asleep.

Even if they have synchronous classes, my youngest in particular asks for help at times. I had few Zoom calls where I couldn’t focus because the girls decided to act up for whatever reason. Asynchronous classes, which means the kids are left with seatwork, are not helpful, too. I have to check and make sure that they will do the tasks for the day.

How we addressed it: For starters, we impose early lights out. Kids eat dinner by 6PM and must be in their bed by 8PM. Unlike in the previous years where they sleep on the dot, it’s taking them at least 30 minutes to finally doze off. Still, this gives me time to finish deadlines.

Another tip is to wake up early. Kids normally wake up at 6:30AM, which means I need to be up at least an hour and a half before them. I also maximize my phone and take advantage of synchronous classes to finish chores so I could focus on them after class. I have to be strict on schedule and constantly fight the urge to watch K-drama. Haha!

READ: 6 Tips On How To Make Kids Sleep Early

STRUGGLE NO. 5: EVERYONE’S ADJUSTING

I mean, who doesn’t? My Viber is active for the past month because of the birthing pains of Distance Learning. It’s not just parents who are adjusting. Even teachers, for sure, have their own struggles, too. It’s not easy to conduct a class virtually, let alone handle kids in primary level.

As we adjust to the new normal in learning, we also have to deal with schedules, modules, and making sure that our kids are learning effectively. We also have to adapt to the system the school is using, training our kids to navigate Google by themselves, and the list goes on.

How we addressed it: To be honest, wala naman choice but to adjust to this new normal. We all have to make do and make necessary changes in the routine.

For us, I allot my Saturday night combing through the kids’ emails and plotting their schedule for the week. I also indicate whether they have synchronous or asynchronous sessions per subject as well as quizzes and performance tasks for the entire week. I make a list of to do’s as well so we won’t forget. By Sunday, the kids and I could go through their lessons and prepare for the upcoming quizzes.

Breaks are also a must. This is why our review sessions are flexible (as long we’re done before dinner) because we all need a breather and mommy needs to work, too.

We just have to adapt to the kids’ situation now and make necessary changes to make our daily lives easier.

STRUGGLE NO. 6: ENCOURAGING INDEPENDENCE ON KIDS

Instilling independence on kids is one of the many struggles of parents. In an Online Distance Learning setup, this could come in handy – IF your kids are older.

For parents with younger kids, guiding them is still a must. The school conducted trainings but still, it will take time before they can fully grasp how a laptop even works.

How we addressed it: Training helps. I showed the kids (well, must be one at a time so both of us could focus) how to, among others:

  • Turn on and shutdown the laptop
  • Open their Google Mail and Aralinks (though I bookmarked it to make it easier)
  • Transition from one class to another
  • Locate apps like Word, PDF Viewer, and Powerpoint
  • Check the Stream and Aralinks for announcements and modules
  • Copy important reminders like quizzes and home work in their Reminders notebook

Eventually, I let them do it by themselves. I supervised, guided, and helped them during the first two weeks. On the third week, I could leave them so I can attend to my tasks. I check in several times to make sure they follow the schedule and they are participating in class.

Fostering independence on kids will take time and require a truckload of patience. The key is not to force it upon them but guide them at first, do tasks together, and then eventually let them do it with minimal supervision.

STRUGGLE NO. 7: IMPOSING ONLINE CLASSROOM ETIQUETTE

This is important. I noticed that kids tend to “spam” the chat box and talk about a lot of things even if the teacher is there. The kids did miss their classmates a lot.

There was also an incident when my youngest daughter was “kicked out” by one of her classmates during their class. I heard her crying because she couldn’t go back to the classroom. I immediately raised this to the Level Coordinator and thankfully, the school took measures the following day.

How we addressed it: The kids’ Computer classes included online social etiquette among its lessons. For reiteration, I also remind the girls everyday about the do’s and don’ts when talking to their classmates and teachers.

I know how stressful online classes are but I remind my kids (and myself as well) to be respectful to the teachers and classmates. Staying behind the computer is not an excuse to treat someone badly by being disrespectful.

Yes, there are still complaints here and there but I still trust in the school and the system. We are all adjusting and improving as we go along. At this point in time, our priority as parents is to be more proactive, present, and mindful when it comes to our kids.

What are your struggles in your kid’s online class? Let me know!

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HEY, I’M AYI

I am a law student turned stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Join me as I go through this journey called momma-hood. [email protected]

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