China Cojuangco And Stephanie Zubiri: Focus On These 5 Things About Online LearningPaying attention to these helped them navigate online learning with their kids better.CREATED WITH ENFAGROW A+ FOUR
Online learning, homeschooling, distance learning, whatever type of at-home learning setup you have right now can be overwhelming to any parent and child who are new to it.
Being your child’s teacher comes with challenges that many moms and dads may not necessarily be ready or equipped for. And your kids will have to adjust to seeing their mama or papa become their teacher as well.
All these changes and transitions can be challenging to navigate. But as moms Stephanie Zubiri and China Cojuangco-Gonzalez shared in the recent Enfagrow A+ Four live discussion, “How to Raise Healthy Smart Kids With a Heart While Homeschooling,” that aired on Smart Parenting’s YouTube channel, it is possible to adapt and acclimatize to it.
These are the most essential aspects of at-home learning parents need to focus on for them — and their kids — to adapt better.
Structure in the form of a routine and space for learning
The structure is vital for at-home learning to work. Having a designated space at home to learn or knowing that they have a routine to follow creates a much-needed system that helps kids feel grounded, safe, and comforted.
Stephanie said that having an area in your home that’s specifically for learning creates a learning “mindset” in your children, adding that it’s vital that this isn’t “the place where they have to play.”
“It doesn’t have to be extravagant,” she explained. “You can have a little area in your home that’s strictly for school.”
Schedules and routines are also important. It creates a “rhythm,” as China noted, that helps kids and their parents adjust to this learning setup.
China shared it was fortunate that her daughter, Lucia, got a taste of this kind of setup early on because the quarantine began during the last quarter of the past school year.
“By the time the school year 2020-2021 came, parang we’re all adjusted already,” she said. “Even the parents had their own seminars with the school, apart from the kids having their own seminars.”
Stephanie also said having a set schedule isn’t just beneficial to children but also to parents, especially those working full-time at home.
Balanced, nutritious meals with some freedom for treats
Breakfast, recess, snack breaks — all these remain important as kids learn at home. Both Stephanie and China advocated encouraging children to eat proper meals at home.
Stephanie’s panganay, Seb, loves salmon sinigang, soft-boiled egg, and vegetables like kangkong. Max, the younger son, loves bread, fried bangus belly, all kinds of fruits, and broccoli.
China said her daughter prefers cereals with milk, rice, vegetables, protein, and fruits like apples and strawberries.
Both moms said that a glass of milk also helps fill any nutritional gaps in their kids’ diet.
For Stephanie’s sons, drinking milk is done before bedtime, saying, “I think it helps replenish those nutrients that might be missing throughout the day.”
China’s daughter also loves milk. “She can finish a liter of milk a day,” the mom shared. “It’s not me who forces her to drink. She looks for it.”
“Why will you stop her from taking something that she loves, and that will be good for her? By all means, enjoy the milk!”
It’s also important to allow kids a little bit of freedom to enjoy their favorite treats and snacks.
China believes in allowing her children a “break” once in a while to enjoy their cravings and experience different kinds of food.
For her part, Stephanie said there are ways to make sweets and snacks more nutritious. “We do a lot of popsicles!” she shared. “Do a fruit smoothie or put some chocolate syrup or cacao [in milk]. Then freeze it! It’s like a treat, it’s like dessert, but it’s super healthy!”
What’s essential for both moms is that kids are getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy, continue developing, and learn.
“At this age, [it] is so important for them to get the right nutrients because this is when the brain is actively developing. This is when they are learning and absorbing at a high-speed rate. You need to fuel that,” Stephanie said.
Regulated and defined screen time
First, there is nothing wrong with using gadgets, especially since it’s an integral part of online learning. Parents just need to regulate their kids’ gadget use and monitor the kind of content being consumed.
China said that it is important to explain to your child what you mean by screen time or gadget use since they are already a regular part of their lives.
“Gadgets are definitely not wrong — that’s already [their] source of education right now,” she said. But when it comes to games or social media, those “will have to be regulated. You have to see what they’re watching.”
“I think it’s an advantage for them to be astute in using the gadgets,” Stephanie said. But it’s also crucial that parents ensure that their kids' gadget use doesn’t translate to developing a “sense of entitlement.”
“I think it’s up to us parents to put in a little bit of control — especially when [kids are] young — so they’re not nakababad,” she said. “Incorporate other activities where there is more delayed gratification to nurture a sense of patience, a sense of working hard for something. You just have to balance it and be aware.”
Activities that allow socialization and encourage kids’ interests
Both moms also noted that having non-school activities, especially those that nurture and encourage your kids’ interests and create opportunities for them to socialize, should also be integrated throughout the day.
China said that her daughter particularly missed her friends and playing with them. Playdates via Zoom are possible, but parents need to find fun and exciting activities that children can do online. “You just have to be more artistic and imaginative about [these] things right now,” she said.
Stephanie also recommended letting kids be bored, saying, “Don’t be afraid to let your kids be bored. Boredom is the greatest spark for creativity.”
The mom of two boys talked about a time when Seb and Max, fueled by boredom because their home Internet was down, invented all kinds of fun games and activities together.
China said: “The imagination of these kids are so wild and big. They’re really going to find their own thing to do, just to burn off all that energy.”
Your and your child’s emotional well-being
These are unusual times, not just for your child but for you as well. Not all parents can smoothly transition into being their kids’ teachers. You need to be extra patient, compassionate, and understanding.
“It’s really not without tears and frustration in the beginning. We’re all trying to figure out what our roles are,” Stephanie said. “Being a teacher is a real profession. And I think, being parents, we’re a little bit harder on our kids because we expect more.”
“Be patient, be open-minded that this is what we have to face right now,” advised China. “Our kids are also having a hard time. You guys are in it together. As much as they owe it to you, you also owe it to them, as their parents.”
“It’s okay not to be okay. Let’s go easy on ourselves. Have compassion for kids, for parents, for anyone who’s involved in this,” added Stephanie.
Watch the entire episode, hosted by Angel Jacob, here:
“How to Raise Healthy Smart Kids With a Heart While Homeschooling” is part of a series of live discussions presented by Enfagrow A+ Four, in partnership with Smart Parenting. Learn more about Enfagrow A+ Four’s campaign of helping parents help their kids thrive in these challenging times by watching the brand’s latest TVC.