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Kids and Online Learning (down the rabbit hole)

by Jane Smith

Shelton Panak lives in Richmond with her family. Her sister-in-law Jane Smith, who teaches in South Korea, had this to say in a Facebook post about online learning. Also, we’re sending positive thoughts and energy to families and teachers across the globe who are in the middle of this challenge. 


We’ve been doing this for weeks (not as long as some Chinese schools, I know) but here’s what I have learned about primary kids and online learning.

  1. They (and perhaps even you, parents) will love it for the first week. Then you won’t. Week four is really hard, too.
  2. PJs are accepted school uniform – no, really (and definitely by week two).
  3. Check the videos and photos your kids upload for their class/teacher to see. Are they exposing a family secret/shame of some sort in the background?
  4. Get a routine fast: Washing and eating should be central (kids will do too little of one and too much of the other. See next comment.
  5. Your grocery bill is about to get much, much bigger as they will be fuelling up all day (this is a universal truth in all households).
  6. Other families are not better organized/fed/scheduled or less stressed/grubby than yours. It just looks that way. The teachers will be hearing from lots of other parents who are losing it/have lost it/are about to lose it. Give yourself a break.
  7. There is a chance here to bond with your kids if you can get a schedule, keep perspective, have a bit of fun. Or you can blow it (see no. 9).
  8. No, they do need your help. They are kids and they cannot work the printer, laptop, iPad app without help. They need your help to write the sentence/paragraph, film the experiment, upload the photo, find a fact, log onto HangOuts (or the portal of choice). Kids under ten need lots of supervision with home learning. You will lose weeks because of this, but this is what we (as parents) do. It’s our job now.
  9. They are laying down memories about Covid19 as we speak, and they will tell these CV stories to your grandchildren in later years. So what’s it going to be? That you were frazzled, drinking more wine than usual, yelling and hiding in the bathroom with your phone – or that you were “all in this together,” and had a laugh or two?
  10. Teachers don’t love this either. They didn’t sign up for a career that involved being online all day; it’s super stressful and isolating. They actually enjoy interacting all day with your little children in class and miss the thousands of chats they have each day with kids face to face. That makes them happy! This doesn’t.
  11. Don’t judge the teachers’ videos too harshly. They are doing their best to engage your children and make learning fun, even from afar. The props, strange voices, imaginary characters and bonkers science experiments were a good idea at the time! Be grateful that other adults like your kids so much they are willing to make a fool of themselves.

Jane Smith lives in South Korea, where, for more than a month now, as an elementary school principal and parent she has been going through a lot of what parents here are going through. She grew up in Scotland and has been teaching overseas for the past twenty-five plus years, the last fifteen of which have been in Asia.


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