Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam & Varun Sharma
What do parents expect from the school? Are online classes as effective as physical classroom lessons? Are there enough devices for both parents and kids? The Quint spoke to parents of children who have started attending online classes organised by their schools, as the country remains quarantined at home.
Vaishnavi Rangarajan, whose daugher is in Kindergarten says that although she and her husband are used to working from home, they are finding it a little difficult to manage both work and their daughter.
“It’s been a bit difficult for us to adjust because schools would take care of food and childcare so that we can juggle between meetings and do focussed work, and more importantly it gave her ample social experience, that is meeting with her friends and teachers and you know, just getting their energy out of their system.”Vaishnavi Rangarajan
Working from home and keeping an eye on their two kids hasn’t been easy for Greater Noida resident Geeta Sharma as well. She says that although she is happy with the school organising online classes, the sudden need for four laptops at home has been keeping the couple vexed.
“At the moment, I need three working laptops, suddenly. I need another fourth one, the moment my younger kid starts his online classes. So, all of them need to be in proper working condition. And that, I think is a challenge for any parent to have four working laptops in the house,” she said.
Can Online Replace Offline?
But it’s not just the logistics, parents are worried that online classes may not be able to replicate learning in the physical classroom.
Begum Naveed Ara Zaman, mother of a sixth and ninth grader, feels that practical things that the teacher can explain inside the classroom are not available in e-schooling. She recounts a recent incident when her younger daughter, the other came up to me and asked:
“’Mamma, do you have yeast?’ I said no, because she had to do some experiments with yeast and check the time of fermentation in cold and hot temperatures.”Begum Naveed Ara Zaman
Zaman adds that since these are the kind of things that every kitchen may not have during the lockdown, teachers must keep in mind the assignments they give.
Vishwanathan, the father of a KG student, says he is really worried about the limited attention span of those in junior classes, who are now having to sit for online lessons.
“In a classroom setting, when they are sitting with 4,5,7 friends and there is a teacher or a didi taking them through certain activities, there's a lot of group activity which happens, that social learning is what I fear she will miss out on. That obviously introduces a lot of stress in the child because of course she is already worried and doesn't understand the consequence of what is happening around,” he adds.
‘Something Better than Nothing’
However, despite being under immense pressure to meet office deadlines and complete domestic chores, parents feel that online classes with all its limitations is better than no classes at all, given the circumstances.
Monijit Barua, father of a 6th grader says that “there will obviously be differences between home and classroom learning, but despite a pan-India lockdown the fact that students are being taught online by teachers at least, something is better than nothing.”
Similarly, Zaman says that despite teething problems, she is happy about the school and teachers giving their best. “For them also it's a first time thing and for us also it is a first time thing, we need to cooperate with each other, the school has to understand our issues and we have to also understand the school's issues,” she adds.