Over the course of the last decade, online schooling methods and tools have matured to the point where they're now a viable option for learners of all ages. That's fueled a rise in online education at the primary and secondary level, giving students a choice between traditional brick-and-mortar schools and this new, online-only model. Although the practice is widely accepted in much of the world, it hasn't gained as much traction in places like Israel.
In fact, that reality has run headfirst into the growing COVID-19 outbreak, which has forced schools all over the country – and indeed the world – to close indefinitely. At first, educators did their best to shift to online learning to keep their students working. Those lessons, however, came to an abrupt halt over a decision by the Finance Ministry that would prevent teachers from being paid for the online classes.
Still, there's good reason to believe that some kind of accommodation will be made, given the nature of the emergency and the fact that schools might remain closed for some time. That all but guarantees that Israeli students are going to have to continue studying from home, and parents are going to have to learn how to best support them in that endeavor. Here's what they need to do.
Create a Dedicated Learning Space
The first step that parents should take to support their students as they make the transition to home-based learning is to create a comfortable, dedicated learning space for them to work in. To do it, parents should work with their children to design the space in whatever way they feel will help them to focus and be as productive as possible. The learning space should contain all of the tools they need for their studies, including a computer, writing supplies, and any other items specific to the work they'll have to do. The goal is to balance comfort with functionality – not to replicate the normal in-school experience.
Help Keep Students Motivated
It's important to remember that students are under quite a bit of pressure to complete their studies even under normal circumstances, and now that they're being asked to upset their normal learning routines, the pressure is even greater. That, combined with the gravity of this specific situation, creates a tremendous disincentive for them to keep working and parents have to stand ready to help motivate them to succeed.
To prepare, parents should avail themselves of the volumes of literature on helping online learners stay motivated, and develop a customized plan to help their child. In addition, parents should make sure to keep in regular contact with their child's teachers, so they can work together to keep them on track. Having that kind of visibility into what's working and what isn't can help make sure that students don't lapse into poor habits, which is all too common for those new to learning in an online setting. It also helps to adorn the child's workspace with inspirational quotes, which help to provide visual cues for them to stay on task while working.
Monitor, Assist, and Reward
With their child equipped and motivated to learn online from home, the next thing for parents to do is to make it a practice to monitor their child's progress as they work. That makes it possible to step in when they need assistance, as well as to reward them when they succeed in their efforts. In an online setting, however, it's not always easy to monitor learners directly. That means parents have to talk to their children to assess how they're doing each day. They should learn to evaluate their child's verbal and nonverbal communication as they do so – since many children aren't apt to admit when they're struggling with schoolwork, but often give subtle clues that could reveal that they need help.
When it's necessary, parents should offer to help, but only to aid their child in understanding the topics they're trying to master. Doing their assignments for them, while expedient, does them no good. Instead, parents should focus on providing supplemental support on topics they understand well, and assistance in finding online resources on topics they're not sure about. That keeps the onus on the child to learn the subject matter. It also means they'll have ample accomplishments to reward them for, which should further bolster their motivation to keep learning.
Ready To Learn
By taking the steps outlined here, parents can help their children to adapt to the current situation and succeed in their online studies. It's critical that they do so, too, considering that it's anybody's guess how long the schools will remain closed. When all is said and done, this situation may help to make online learning a mainstay of the Israeli education system. As it's happened with homeschooling elsewhere, it's sometimes an external force that prompts a widespread change in the educational status quo.
Although it's doubtful that anybody would see the cause of that as a positive in this case, the outcome may prove beneficial for students in the long run. For now, though, it's up to parents to help their children to continue learning in whatever format's available to them. In the end, that's the surest way to make sure that they will have a bright, productive, and happy future ahead of them, come what may.