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Parents Need To 'Detach' When It Comes To Distance Learning
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  • The debate on whether to continue schooling amid the pandemic has been heated among different sectors in the last few months, with President Rodrigo Duterte himself saying that classes won’t resume until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. All sorts of arguments have stemmed from this statement, but education wins in the end.

    Many private schools began classes online as early as August 2020, while the rest are set to open on October 5. With schooling happening at home, parents whose children have had a headstart are beginning to see the benefits and the many distance learning challenges.

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    Distance learning challenges for teachers

    At the online event, "Virtual Coffee Talk On Distance Learning," organized by V-Dose Education and hosted by Marco Lobregat, Henry Motte-Muñoz, CEO and founder of Edukasyon.ph, brings up several questions that many schools need to answer today.

    • How do you keep learners motivated when the temptations [in the home] are great?
    • How do you get them feeling connected to the lesson and engaged?
    • On the educators' side, Motte-Muñoz asks, how do you keep a pulse on classroom engagements?

    Motte-Muñoz says educators must mimic the online consumption of the students. “Introduce gamification and shorter content. [Ask yourselves] what can you teach children in 5-10 minute sessions,” he says.  “It’s better to introduce short sessions than cramming many lessons in one session.”

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    Distance learning challenges for parents 

    Education advocates Audrey Tan Zubiri, Mikaela Lagadameo-Martinez, and Michelle Reyes are all moms with kids studying from home, whether via online or homeschooling. They share their roles have expanded. They are not only a mom but also function as a cafeteria and tech support today, as Zubiri puts it.


    Martinez shares that while her pre-teen son had to make the most adjustment with distance learning (her eldest daughter has always been homeschooled), he has learned to adapt in time. The silver lining was discovering her children’s learning styles.

    “Each child has a different way of learning and you only get to see this now that they are studying from home. That’s the reason why I have full respect of teachers [who have to deal with different students] and at the same time have a pile of assignments to check. It’s a lot of work!”

    Reyes, who runs My Study Partner Tutorial Center and is the founder of My Study Partner Foundation, says she gave advanced math lesson to her children who eventually enjoyed it so much so that they are now ahead by two years in the subject. “They have adjusted a lot because I gave them that lead time.”

    Reyes, who specializes in teaching Singapore Math, has partnered with V-Dose Education in developing online videos for parents on how to teach Singapore Math to their children through guided assistance and proven techniques. The modules' purchase via V-Dose’s website goes to her foundation that helps care for abandoned children. Reyes hopes to make Singapore Math tutorial videos in the future aimed for teachers.

    Zubiri acknowledges that structure is essential to keep children interested in school and believes the schools’ decision to push through classes was a good decision despite the pandemic. However, she warns parents to resist the temptation to become too involved in their children’s learning now that classes are happening at home.

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    “For first-time distance learning moms like me, it can be very tempting to get involved in every aspect of your child’s learning which builds tension between parent and children,” Zubiri shares. “Make sure that we have a line that we don’t cross. You are there as a coach. Detach yourself a bit.”

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    How do you do distance education with a classroom feel

    The challenges of the transition from face-to-face to distance learning has never been more felt than in public schools, especially those in the provinces.

    “Because of better connectivity in the National Capital Region, schooling can be synchronous but in the provinces where access is limited, asynchronous is used,” says another of the talk's panelist, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee on Basic Education (Arts and Culture). The senator is the author of the ‘Education in the Better Normal’ bill that pushes for the acceleration of digital transformation in the Department of Education.

    In Valenzuela, Sen. Gatchalian says, they will introduce a localized learning system with lessons live-streamed through the FB Learning School. Under this approach, teachers are actually teaching, and every student in the division is hooked to that class. 

    Ultimately, Sen. Gatchalian says, teachers are empowered to use a modality that fits their school and area’s context. The government will also use traditional media such as TV and radio to deliver pre-recorded lessons.

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