Please welcome my guest author today, mom and blogger Liz Talton, who weighs the pros and cons of distance learning versus in-person learning. My husband and I have had to make this decision for our son who is in high school. We thought he would be able to go back to school with a hybrid model, but his school decided to go with distance learning.
With a second wave of COVID-19 predicted for this winter, I think that schools’ learning models will be in flux. My son may return to school sometime this year in the hybrid model but it will depend on the safety of our teachers and community. And the most maddening part for the teachers at our school is a coordinated decision state-wide. If our teachers’ children are in school in a different distict and are distance learning, how are they supposed to be teaching in-person? Who is supposed to care for their children?!
How about you? Are your kids in school in-person or distance learning? How is that working out?
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending students return back to school. For parents everywhere going back to school is filled with both questions and fears. This is a very sensitive and complicated issue for many families across the country. But is distance learning or attending school right for your children and family? It’s a personal decision that’s different for every family, however, it’s important to consider the positives and negatives of both options.
Positives of going back to school
Extra help for children with special needs Since school closures, every student began online learning. But what about students with special needs who are on IEPs? Distance learning is challenging for students with special needs like dyslexia, autism, Down syndrome, and more. Many of these disorders come with difficulties related to learning.
Down syndrome and autism require learning through visual displays. That means in-person learning from teachers and paraeducators. While distance learning may provide enough visual material to learn new concepts, parents of children with special needs are struggling to teach their child learning objectives that need to be taught in-person by a specialized educator.
Although children will be deterred from contact closer than 6 feet, it still benefits children to see and interact with their peers. Peer interaction is essential for helping children form their own identity. Interacting with others helps your child develop and improve language and vocabulary skills, cognitive, and social development.
Makes children accountable
With distance learning, children are expected to log in and enter virtual classrooms to complete assignments. But a study conducted by the Boston School District found more than 20% of students who were supposed to be logging in daily did not log in at all. Without logging in, those students are not participating in any online learning whatsoever.
Now, this could be because of a lack of internet services and computers, but some students may treat distance learning as a long-term vacation, not school. When children are at home they may feel they can neglect their education. However, with attending school in-person children will be more accountable for their assignments.
Provides a sense of life before the quarantine
Before everyone went into quarantine, your family probably had a daily routine. Breakfast by seven. Off to school by eight. Clock into work. Pick the kids up after school then drive them to their sports activities.
While your routine may have been mundane before, now after quarantine you may want to get back to normal life. Having your children go back to school can make your family feel (in a sense) that life has returned back to normal.
Real instruction from teachers
Teachers are qualified professionals that work with kids all day to teach them core subjects to better prepare them for the future. Since the start of distance learning, parents have had to be their child’s teacher. For some parents, this is a struggle for multiple reasons including adjusting their own work schedule to help their children with classroom assignments.
Negatives of going back to school
There are so many questions when it comes to the safety of children returning back to school. Unfortunately, we as parents don’t know if the teachers or other staff members will be sanitizing desks, chairs, bathrooms, light switches, and more throughout the day.
Much different environment
Your children are returning to school, but it’s not the school they are used to. Because of COVID-19, the CDC is recommending all students of every grade be required to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart. For some children, this may be too restrictive and they may choose to take off their mask multiple times a day and not keep the 6 feet rule. This may be a common issue for teachers and other staff members.
A possible outbreak of COVID-19
Above all else, this negative of going back to school is the utmost concern for everyone. As parents, the last thing we want is to send our children back to school and have there be a breakout of COVID-19. If this does occur the school as a whole will be quarantined and students will go back to distance learning. But the question remains, why expose our kids in the first place by allowing them to attend school?
Positives of distance learning
Distance learning is all about flexibility. Children and their parents have the flexibility to complete assignments and log into virtual classrooms at any time. While there are still deadlines on assignments, children have the flexibility to work where and when they want.
No peer pressure or social anxiety for children
Peer interaction is encouraged for the development of children. But some children struggle in school due to anxiety, depression, and bullying. For those students, distance learning is a well-needed break from their peers.
Negatives of distance learning
Does not cater to children who need extra help
Children with learning disabilities are struggling with keeping up and understanding assignments. Distance learning is a learning curve for teachers as well as students. While your child can always contact their teacher for extra help with assignments, it’s not the same as learning in the classroom.
When you work with technology, there’s always something that can go wrong. Videos can glitch and the sound may be patchy. Emails or private messages may not have sent. These types of issues will occur when using technology as the sole source of a child’s education compared to in-person learning.
Limited access to Wi-Fi
In low-income areas, many families are without a reliable connection to Wi-Fi. According to USA Today, 15 million or more children live at a home without access to a computer or internet access.
Along with children, it’s estimated that 300,000 to 400,000 teachers have been without computers for distance learning. If children are without computers or the internet, online education is basically nonexistent.
Isolation is a very real feeling for students everywhere. When children do not interact with others of their own age, a child’s mental state may begin to decline. The isolating feeling for children will continue with distance learning without going back to school.
The decision between going back to school and distance learning for many parents is a heated debate. While there are positives and negatives to both sides of the debate, ultimately it comes down to the choice of each family. Whatever your choice is, back to school or distance learning, help your children stay safe (even if they attend school).
About the Author
Liz Talton is a regular contributor for Speech Blubs blog, a speech therapy app for toddlers. She is a work at home mom of 2, so she is always on the lookout for new activities that will keep the little ones busy. Her background is in psychology, and she is dedicated to motherhood and writing.
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