Are Online Schools for Primary School Kids a Good Idea?

3 min read

Seven-year-old Riya is waiting patiently as her parents try to connect the laptop for her online class. "Yesterday's thunderstorm disrupted the Internet connection and the mobile data is also not working", shares her mother Pallavi Batra.

Online school and work from home have been a norm since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. It has been a challenging situation for parents and kids, especially the kindergarten and primary school kids.

Riya, an enthusiastic child has suddenly become withdrawn, and disinterested.

Her classmate, Pritha, throws a tantrum whenever she must attend an online class.

With the pandemic continuing the physical schooling remains uncertain. "kids are missing out on the socialization, peer-interaction, adaptation, discipline and etiquettes which they learn under normal circumstances”, says children’s writer and teacher, Madhumita Gupta.


The Scenario

Developmental therapist Expressive Arts Therapist (R-DMT) Ritu Shree, says, "The rationale for online classes was simple – to keep the learning process active for children, when they are unable to go to school due to the pandemic."

There wasn't any alternative.

Though kids are familiar with laptops and mobiles, learning from home is different story. Riya enjoyed the bus ride, chatting with friends, attending the classes, and interacting with teachers.

She misses going to school. Psychologist and Therapeutic Movement facilitator, Ridhima says, "The pandemic has hit primary school students in emotional, and developmental ways."

Online classes are difficult for both kids and their parents. Young kids require parental support to attend classes. “Sometimes explaining what the teacher is saying to Riya and communicating her doubts to her teacher becomes challenging”, shares Pallavi.

Kids have a very short attention span and in front of the screen their attention dwindles frequently.

Children don’t necessarily learn from just one-sided instructional teaching. “One of the saddest things”, Madhumita explains “is their missing out on peer interaction. As an ex-principal of Kidzee, Alwar I often was amazed at how quickly children learned when put in a class of 20 odd.”

According to Ritu Shree, kids learn from active discussions, experientials, creative engagements and through multi-dimensional teaching methods.

Another factor is space restriction. These classes are limited to home and one room from where the child attends. Time for extracurricular school activities is reduced.

“This affects the child’s physical growth resulting of restriction of developmental milestones and limited development of interpersonal skills."

The connection and attachment with the teachers on the screen is tough for small kids who are developing and growing.

Pros and Cons

According to Rachna Kathpalia, the current Principal of Chinar Public School, Alwar 75 percent of the parents are happy with this, especially with the pandemic still around.

Suman K Sinha, a parent of a 9-year-old, agrees that is the advantage, plus she has got to learn a lot about her daughter as a student.

However, she feels the competitiveness of parents -which leads them to 'help' their children instead of letting them learn by themselves, will lead to long-term problems when these kids eventually go to school.

Getting to eat freshly cooked food, spending more time with the family, and saving the commuting time, are a few advantages Ridhima lists.

The disadvantages, however, are quite serious.

The absence of routine, no exposure to the outside world, inability to make friends and not getting a chance to become independent will have continuing effects, she adds.

She feels that online schooling can never replace classroom learning because through schools a holistic development of a child takes place whereas at home the child only learns through the family and home environment.

The Impact

Each age group has different requirements. “Children are learning all the time even while they are sleeping or daydreaming”, explains Ritu Shree. Formal education involves spelling, letters, shapes sentences, and basic mathematics. Learning happens through multiple mediums.

(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)

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