Challenges Parents Face in the New Normal of Education
My five year old nephew is so excited to see his classmates when the school opens in less than three weeks, no matter if he socializes with them on the screen of their tablets or laptops. The head of the Ministry of Education (DepEd), Leonor Briones, has confirmed that the 2020-2021 school year (SY) will start on August 24, adopting blended / distance learning modalities.
Traditional face-to-face classes will not take place until January 2021, when limited physical classes may be permitted in low-risk areas.
Data from the learner registration and survey form showed that 8.8 million parents preferred the module while 3.9 million voted for blended learning, which combines different modalities: module, television and radio, and radio with online. To understand some of the challenges of learning delivery modalities, I spoke to three mothers about raising their children – home schooling was Dude’s choice, while Margot’s child uses the approach. blended learning from a private school. Angeline, a farmer based in northern Benguet, had no choice but to adapt DepEd’s modular distance training.
Individualized instruction in modular distance learning is useful in remote areas with limited internet access such as mountains. Learners use self-study modules in paper or digital format. They may need home visits by teachers for remediation or learner assistance. If feasible, students can reach their teacher by email, phone, text, or instant messaging. Angeline told me that mothers of children in Kindergarten to Grade 3 fear spending less time on their vegetable farms. Hiring teaching assistants or para-teachers to help parents who cannot supervise and guide their children is being considered by DepEd in the new normal setup.
The blended learning approach used by Margot’s son in grade 1 uses synchronous and asynchronous sessions. His classes at his private school started this month from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The day’s lessons follow the synchronous sessions done online with their teacher and classmates. About 20 to 30 minutes of synchronous sessions followed by an asynchronous session with guided independent study is his routine Monday through Friday. They have chores or siege jobs that they have to do on their own. If his son has a question, he can easily contact his teacher in his Google Classroom setup. His time is spent sitting next to his son because he is not too familiar with navigation on the laptop, as most children these days are more familiar with the touchscreen of a tablet, that doesn’t handle a mouse. It consumes too much of her time that she cannot do other tasks. However, she gets a break during the many breaks between classes.
Dude, who has been teaching his two children at home for eight years, had no doubts about his ability to teach, but faced challenges in the discipline of having a system to facilitate teaching. In times of pandemic, the approach has changed as classes that are taken outside the home, such as robotics or music, are now taken online. Listed with Homeschool Global in their Touch program, Dude teaches everything except when she is outsourcing material. Although his sons take online programs in math, English, science, computer science, and physical education, Dude reviews their progress and incorporates it into other subjects. Attending workshops helps her as she meets other families in a similar situation. I know some parents will start with the home schooling system instead of the blended learning approach.
Parents working from home will now have extra work – providing technical support or advice in their schoolwork. It is difficult to adjust meetings and other tasks with online courses. And since most of the time, several children in the same family could only use one computer. Teachers and parents will need additional workshops in conducting online courses. For farmers with young children, they need educational support, either from DepEd or their community. Private groups and individuals, as well as the two big telecom companies in the Philippines, help students acquire gadgets and an affordable internet connection, but this is not crucial for modular distance learning. While these challenges are still being resolved, parents and caregivers can look forward to this new arrangement as an opportunity to be a partner in raising children with school by teaching them necessary life skills.