How Will Our Children Learn Now (Part 2)

by Emma Gutierrez, Founder and Center Director

Nobody came into this world with a college course on parenting and if there was such a course, there wouldn’t be any subject on disasters, pandemic, and recession.

There is no war. None physically. Our sons, husbands, and fathers are not drafted and deployed. The war is within ourselves. It is happening every waking hour if we will allow it. Where to…? What to…? How to…? These questions cover almost all questions raging within, including resources, a safe place, a new set of drills, or way of living, rituals, or logistics.

One nagging question is schooling. There are many options as I have listed down in Part 1.

Here is one not in my list or implied directly in Part 1 of HWOCLN

Gap year- This is a word that is in vogue to parents but because the concept is new, and it solves immediate concerns, the idea seems to be a panacea for all the where to…?, what to…? And how to…? questions---an answer to stop the worries that keep ‘ringing” like a buzzer that never goes off.

The idea of a gap year for the children is no schooling for a year until a vaccine is discovered and until a face to face schooling is back or until the parents are ready.

A gap year is like taking a pill that we hope will put us to sleep for a year. But it won’t. Your child’s growth and development will need to be challenged. Your child will need to be fed not only for physical growth but also for cognitive, socio-emotional development.

Sometimes, I imagine us parents wanting to wrap our precious child in swaddling clothes these days.

Then what happens after the in-between? I expect that we will now start nagging the schools how to make up for the year so our child goes to the grade level he or she was supposed to go before the gap year, and maybe we will try to convince ourselves with great resolve that the time of COVID is an amnesty year.

Gap year for me is without a plan. No menu planned for the children’s continuous learning. Otherwise, we know if we are doing homeschooling, wild schooling, unschooling, etc. (even these have a plan or a curriculum).

Why do we want to change the situation for our children? It is what it is now. Should we not instead train ourselves and our children to make adjustments to the existing situation and come out of it with better life skills and EQs (maturity, readiness, adversity q, grit etc)?

Your child’s present school can be your support system, a partner, an ally. If you trusted it before Ncovid-19, you should still have a reason to trust it now.

A good collaboration with your school is key to a good school year where some protocols have changed, but with the intention to deliver learning wherever you are.

Your child will still have to at least wash his face, brush his teeth, comb his hair, and change into “school” clothes. The curriculum of your school if you believed in it should not offer less now under the “new normal”, but with good re-engineering or resetting should be able to deliver the same quality if not more.

The following is my formula for online learning that will not make so much difference from the way face to face learning was efficiently done.

Your school should accommodate a smaller group during online learning.

It must offer a variety of ways to engage your child in learning and to whet his appetite to discover more.

Experiential learning should not only happen in a physical set up, but is very possible even in an online setting. Why? Is that possible? Yes. Think of how people have simulated love online, think of how you have looked forward to eating when you watch a cooking show. Think of how you have moved your legs and arms while you watch your favorite sport? Think of how you are influenced psychologically and emotionally when you watch a tv commercial.

Your school should provide time for learning focus after a short discovery exploration.
Math, Languages, Reading, Science have skills and concept sets that are needed as prerequisites to learning in the higher grade levels.

PE, Arts, Music, Homeroom, and Values Education should provide balance to the academics.
And they are deliverable from the screen to your home!

Your school should provide time for Self-Learning for 30 – 60 minutes
A well-guided set of materials developmentally presented will allow the child to work on his own. It should be reasonably paced, have room or allowance for mistakes, and repetition because these two components build confidence and mastery over time.

Your school can provide mentoring time for 15 precious minutes after self-learning (more than this time will result to dependence)
To assist the parents and care-givers, a mentor can help follow up on homework, answer questions, or provide assistance to weak areas- all part of the online learning in anticipation for children lagging behind or the home going off the expected course.

The idea is for our child to be independent from us. But we have to invest time and some resources.

You asked should there be a computer subject?

Yes. More than anytime. The world is not ending after this year. It will continue to exist. The ones who prepared for the way the world will go in the future have greater advantages to survive. To hide while the world continues to exist like the “straggler mentality” is not proactive.

E-books or hard copies?

Should it be e-books to match online? We need tactile stimulation. It is directly connected to our brain function the way handwriting has a more significant effect on keeping our brains well-oiled.

If books can be delivered to the homes, I am for books that can be manually opened, flipped, smelled, taken care of, and bearing the indentation and marks of the owner. It is a whole experience on its own.

“What are other parents doing?”

This is like making a vote. Which side are you?

I advise us to make an assessment of our situation and use our own “diskarte” and intelligent research and self-examination. Decide on your own. Use your compass.

Please do not ride the bandwagon. When you see people lined up for something, think independently. The Zagu moment or the “cronut” are very good examples of this kind of mentality we sometimes find ourselves in.

Wishing everyone enlightenment and better sleep. Raise good and brave and strong children.
Do not underestimate their capacity to adapt. Cheers!