Online classes – Fear, Myth, Challenges & Opportunity – From the Parents perspective.

Online classes - Fear, Myth, Challenges & Opportunity – From the Parents perspective.

While we are in the midst of Covid-19 crisis and are battling for day-to-day life, there are few activities in selective industries like education which are highly active and are capturing huge attention for the good as well as bad. These activities bring different challenges to various stakeholders like parents, teachers, students, schools/corporates and government. This article presents the perspective of parents across different levels like pre-primary, primary, middle and high school levels. After analysing the perspectives, we have understood that parents’ perspectives can be fitted
into four broad categories- Fear, Myth, Challenges and Opportunities.

Fear: 
A few parents of pre-primary children have the fear of health concerns. They say it might affect their child’s eyesight if they sit in front of the computer, mobile or laptop for a long period of time. Recently, health care providers were also talking about the accompanying health issues
around online classes if the screen time goes beyond 1 hour. Additionally, in tier 2-3 markets the parents have more concerns around the use of gadgets. Since they don’t have a laptop or computer at home, they have to give their mobile phones to their children. They feel that children might get
habituated to spending more time with the gadget which is unhealthy for them at this age.
Moreover, a parent of a child from the middle school says – “handing over gadgets to children at this age might expose them to a lot of inappropriate content”. A few parents of children from primary grades also feel that it is not practical to conduct classes online while children are at home
as they are unable to concentrate due to the distractions around; hence there is a fear of the money being wasted. Similarly, a parent of a pre-primary child says – “the child is pressurised to sit in one place for long and as children are unable to manage the gadgets independently, parents have to sit
with them. So, there is also a fear of not being able to give so much time to supervise children daily. So, there are fears of health issues, distraction, money being wasted, pressure on children as they are not used to online sessions and time constraints that parents face.

Myth:
“Online classes are just an excuse to collect fees”, says a parent whose child is in pre-primary. “These are just the pressures that schools are trying to build to take care of their income” says another parent whose child is in middle-school. “Though we know it is practically not possible
for children to attend online classes when the whole country is going through this crisis and there is uncertainty about the next day, I am not sure what schools are trying to achieve by introducing online classes”? wonders, a parent whose child is in primary. “The pre-primary curriculum is not
rocket science. Even we as parents can teach our children” says another parent who has recently taken admission for her child in Nursery. “While the government and some ministers have announced that schools are not supposed to conduct online classes or charge fees/demand fees; if some schools are doing so, then they are not really concerned about children”. “My child is absolutely new to preschool and we have taken admission in Nursery; attending online classes is out of question for my child as he has never had an exposure of the real class room teaching”, says another parent.“It’s okay if this year we don’t send our child to school as nothing is going to change in this one year”. Overall, many parents feel that the online classes are just a mode used by schools to secure their income and admissions whereas these are not practically possible.

Challenges:
“I am a farmer and live in a location where we have network issues. My child is in the 5th std and I would be happy if his education is taken care of, as it is important”. Says a parent from Nanded – Maharashtra. “I have tried online sessions for my child in the past; based on the experience, I am not confident if my child will adjust to online sessions as she requires special attention”. Says a parent from Katni.“I have two children and when classes are conducted simultaneously, it will be difficult for us to give them separate gadgets because we don’t have two different gadgets. Also, there is an internet bandwidth issue”.“I would like my child to attend the online classes, but am not sure if the classes will benefit him since they are conducted in English. We are not very fluent in the language”, says a parent from Erandol. “I would like to try the online classes for my child for a month at least. However, the classes are conducted by teachers from different locations and not by the local teachers. I am not sure if my child will adjust now and after. Also, since it is a temporary plan it should not be as expensive as it is” – says another parent from Tanuku whose child is in primary.
So, the major challenges are: internet connectivity, value for money, language, bandwidth issue due to more than one child using a gadget simultaneously, and giving special attention.

Opportunity:
The reality is that online classes are more like a blessing in disguise. Many parents whose children are not able to attend private schools are getting an opportunity to allow their children to study online at affordable rates. Parents who were dependent on home-schooling are getting an opportunity to enroll their children to benefit from online classes. Schools are creating flexible timetables which are convenient for parents and for children to attend.“I have a single child and he used to be bored and lonely most of the time. Fortunately, I see him active and eagerly looking forward to attend the online classes everyday” – says a parent whose child is attending the classes since a week. “We are living in a nuclear family with just three of us (me, my wife and my child). We rarely have guests and do not have much interactions with people. Now due to the Corona Virus, it is even worse with almost no interaction with people at all. At this time my biggest relief are the online classes that my child is enjoying and is getting an opportunity to interact with teachers and children from various locations”, says another parent whose child is in pre-primary. “I was always worried about my child not spending much time on studies. I am extremely happy to now see him keen on attending the online classes; especially with one of the experts from Mumbai conducting Math classes. The teacher seems very confident on the subject”, says another parent whose child is in Primary.
The Corona Virus crisis may cause a lot of struggle, but as parents we don’t always let it affect our children and hence, if there is an opportunity to keep them engaged productively then it makes sense. If the intention is driven towards helping children getting engaged positively without
burdening them, at affordable rates as per the economic background (differentiated pricing), not focusing on just the academics but focusing on the holistic development, showing special attention for children who require it, not burdening the parents by asking them to give their time, sharing
recorded videos so that it takes care of the bandwidth and internet issues, etc. while at the same time sticking to the guidelines to ensure they are not glued to technology for extended hours causing health issues; we think this online journey is the future of our endeavor as 21 st century education
providers.

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