“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.” John F. Kennedy’s words seem more ironic than ever today. As we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic crisis, countries everywhere are stepping up to decipher how Mother Nature’s imposed quarantine is forcing us to stop and smell the roses.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), school closures in over a dozen countries due to the COVID-19 outbreak have disrupted the education of at least 849.5 million students worldwide. As schools, offices and entertainment centres down their shutters everywhere, parents, students, and families are figuring out how to navigate this enforced ‘downtime’.
For many parents, the immediate concern is how to keep productivity high for themselves and their children. Tension is high as everyone is stepping on each other’s toes and future plans are in flux. Whether you reside in a country where there is a complete lockdown, or your travel plans have been cancelled or you are simply watching the news with uncertainty about what’s next, a positive course of action will greatly alleviate your stress. What can you do? A lot, it seems.
Engage with your children and family at large:Often, children are left confused and upset in the wake of a crisis. As their primary caregivers, parents must educate them on the virus, the ripple effects and emergency precautions. Being completely candid will go a long way in easing tensions. Moreover, children will be more cooperative when they know what is happening. Discussing updates in the news as a family and sharing age-appropriate articles with them is a good way to keep them updated.
Help children become responsible and accountable: Sitting at home may sometimes lead to complacency and procrastination. Planning time effectively between work and leisure will ensure productivity. An article in the NY Times quoted Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School, who said,“Its important kids don’t see this as an indefinite snow day.” Parents are working and their children are learning online simultaneously. As this is new for many, set aside ‘work time’ and ‘downtime’ and discuss the schedules with your children so they are aware of the hours ahead. Think of innovative things to do in the ‘downtime’. From writing letters to relatives abroad, watching an educational documentary or playing a board game, when children have something to look forward to, they will become more productive in the ‘work hours’.
Create an efficient engine at home: Designate and/or set up a place for your child to work. Sometimes, a rotating workstation is a good idea. You can switch work desks with your children every other day, set up a desk in your living room or another area in your home to keep them more engaged. Try the fantastic Pomodoro Technique for time management! Plan ways in which your child can exercise and/or get some physical activity. If sports activities are not an option, online workout videos like PopSugar and GoNoodle are great resources.
Boost academic performance:The focused and extra time students have right now can be greatly leveraged to revisit topics and reach out to teachers for clarification. Exam preparation can start early and all assignments can be completed till date. Extra research in areas of interest and language practice can go a long way. Just yesterday, a discussion on changing weather patterns at home led to a family research project as we explained how the Earth’s tilt and exposure to the sun causes different weather patterns.
Build your extracurriculars: While students are used to going to classes or extracurricular programs that are face to face, many local companies such as Curiosity Gym in Mumbai are also offering online classes. Keep checking your email to be engaged. You can also use this time to work on and complete existing projects like subject IR’s, CAS reports, and artworks from home.
Work on college applications:Grade 12 students should continue to focus on school and concentrate on doing well in the upcoming board examinations. For those who have received acceptances or are waiting to do so, check for communication from the colleges either on their website or email. In light of the current situation, several universities are waiving the need for SAT’s and other standardised tests so grade 11 students should check with their shortlisted universities directly by sending them an email. Alternatively, keep a tab on the College Board website for new test dates. Until further notice, it may be safe to assume that 2021 application processes will proceed as normal. However, it may be wise to simultaneously explore other options such as international offerings by top Indian universities.
Embrace the digital revolution: If you are a student whose school has shifted to teaching online, embrace this. While you are so used to going to a classroom and being taught in person, online education is the future. In fact, several reports are already showing the increased productivity and efficiency of such schooling methods. Kavita Mehta, the founder of online learning aggregator platform Lore, has written an insightful article on the future of digital education here. Whether it is improving those graphic designing skills, learning more about excel or simply improving on a language, use this time to delve into online courses. Some online learning platforms to explore are Upskill, Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare andLore. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Khan Academy also offer some free services.
Read:We all have endless reading lists that we have not had the chance to get to. This is a perfect opportunity to order the books on your Kindle or scourge through your home library and catch up on your reading. “The most important thing you can do with your kids at home is read, read, read. Turn off the screens,” said Lisa Cavora, director of Great River Learning. “This is a time to play board games, card games. Just create a routine.”
The greatest innovations have been made at the time of the utmost crisis. As the fourth industrial revolution hits us in the form of Education 4.0, educational companies and governments are acting swiftly to imagine, implement and embrace learning methodologies of the future. As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”