For nursery children, online education isn’t proving to be the best approach towards learning. Parents and teachers say low attention span and higher dependence on parents are some of the issues that are restricting the process of learning.
Parents are not happy with online classes. Sindhu M. shared: “Initially, my kid was a little agitated to sit for online classes. But with time he got used to it. However, he always waits for classes to get over to play. I cannot force him too much to sit for classes.”
A kindergartner needs constant assistance during classes. Earlier, the presence of teachers made it easier for children to carry out tasks. Now, a parent is required to sit with their child during online classes. Parents who work in offices find it difficult to do this.
“We have to devote a minimum of three hours…. In addition to getting them ready for classes, we have to sit with them to assist them. This is a huge problem for us,” said Jitendra, whose child is in nursery.
Since school is the first social platform a child is exposed to, online classes cannot replace the classroom experience for nursery students.
Ramya J. Agnihotri, a pre-primary teacher, said: “It’s a whole new system for kids. It becomes difficult for them to connect with us during online classes. Online classes have separate teachers for each subject, while in offline classes, there’s only one teacher for all subjects.”
During online classes, children get confused because the teaching method of instructors are different, she added.
Interpersonal intelligence – the ability to relate and socialize with other people – does not develop during online classes. Agnihotri noted: “Children don’t have friends at home. They cannot mingle with other kids in the class. Interaction with other students is more important than academics. A classroom has different kinds of students, so each child is introduced to different characters.”
Another pre-primary teacher, Divya, said online classes can get burdensome even for teachers. “Classes should be interactive. It becomes difficult for us teachers to interact with them during online classes. Nursery students cannot concentrate for more than 45 minutes…. We cannot give one-on-one attention to each child during an online class. At one go, we can only attend to five students.”
Teachers say they have to be extra conscious while teaching because they believe parents are evaluating their teaching skills. “It’s like we are teaching both students and their parents. We have to be conscious that parents are watching us. We have to make sure that we don’t make any mistakes.”
Many schools have partially changed their curriculum from academic-based to extra-curricular activities-based. Activities like painting, dancing, recitation and even puppet shows are carried out. The schools hope this will make online classes more enjoyable for nursery students.
The process of assessing a child’s progress has become more difficult as most parents do their children’s homework and help them during online classes. Independent by children are nil, leading to bigger problems when a student goes to the next higher standard.
“During classes, if we ask questions, the parents answer,” Divya said.
Himani Mehta, a child development expert, said: “Online classes have restrictions. You can direct older kids to follow a particular task. But for nursery students, this is the first formal structure that they step into. Nurseries provide the very first classroom experience to a child. However, the pandemic has restricted us from giving a child that experience. In online classes, the child has no clue of what a classroom is or how to take instructions from her teachers. Even though we are trying to be child-centric, a lot of external factors are hindering the process of child development.”
While some parents like Sindhu eagerly wait for schools to reopen to avoid further complications in her son’s inter-personal development, Jitendra doesn’t mind waiting till next year, till the time it is completely safe for his child to go out.