Musa Ali Khan
While anxiety is understandable, it’s healthier to look for the opportunities that Covid-19 is creating (Sam Abrams, 26-3-2020). Home teaching and learning can be an opportunity because all schools have been closed since last week of December 2019 for winter vocations and then due to outbreak of COVID-19 till to date. Since four months have passed no other platforms have taken it into considerations. In such a grim situation, it is the responsibility of academia and teachers to share different pathways of learning i.e. home schooling with wider community, friends, and relatives and at family level in order to use quarantine time productively with children as well as for themselves.
Different stories on the media report that some well to do families use cyber spaces through ¾ G network by using Google Classroom, Khan Academy, ReadWorks, Zearns and many other online teaching and learning apps, skype, WhatsApp and many other online sources. E-learning is not a new idea amongst elites schools however post Corona era will compel the low income schools which cater the lower income strata of the society to use cyber spaces purposefully for making teaching and learning to happen. .
Logically and ideally all cable network including all public and private TV channels particularly the PTV should run classes for children of different age group i.e. from KG to t grade 12. So that children can learn from virtual classes when there will be electricity available at their homes on that particular time. Ironically teaching and learning has never remained a priority of our politicians nor the TV channels are worried about it but they all are strongly agreed to free a TV owner from Jail
Majority of our children in the country are enrolled in public sector schools. According to Zubeida Mustafa a well-known educationalist noted that the virus has brought a welcome escape from the dullness and monotony of school and exams in Pakistan. This is true for all children either they attend public or private schools. Similarly, I have contacted with many friends and extended family members about their children engagement in Locked down era of COVID-19, their responses brought me to a conclusion that most of our parents, needs some practical ideas about home schooling or home learning so that the motivated educated family members will be able to use their time productively and wisely with the children and siblings at homes in an organized way.
After all, parents have always been their children’s first teachers, and Home Teaching simply means they are stepping back into that role (Sam). When, we contextualize this idea, it does not seem that much straight forward because in our milieu, majority of parents consider that literacy and numeracy is the sole responsibility of schools. For such parents, the educated family members who study in the universities and college can help in home learning process. Moreover for such parents, the teachers and educated people can provide practical and doable suggestions. The first important and simple suggestion for parents can be that parents should help children to design a realistic timetable which caters the daily routine of the child and then open their textbook and reading material every day according to the set timetable. . The timetable should be convenient both for the home tutor (parents) and children and it must be joint endeavor of both so that the children own it.
(Sam) also suggests that “you do not need a degree in education to teach valuable skills to your children it can be taught through family activities” such as Play board games, puzzles, cooking together, planting a spring garden, using a butcher paper to draw a life-size family portrait etc. In addition, you can add your own imaginations to add more activities from your own experience or from your own context. Based on my experience and involvement with the kids, I understand the educational needs of children in my surrounding. In the below lines I share some practical examples which can be helpful both for the students and their parents in making home teaching more effective and productive.
Let have an objective to improve the reading skills of children in English and Urdu. If we will work on this phenomenon for at least two weeks with full involvement of parents and students, by creating a friendly environment at homes being conscious of the individual differences of children then it is not fat the we achieve the desired results.
There are so many reading strategies such as load reading, silent reading, pre reading, while reading and post reading etc. The most engaging reading activity is to tell the children to read at least two or more paragraphs and then the facilitator reads the same lines for children in a louder intonation while keeping in mind the learner’s age, grade and ability level. After reading, tell them to write what they have read while looking at the textbook. This activity, on one hand, is easy to be done and on the other hand, it will improve children reading, writing, pronunciation and spelling abilities
Improving reading through writing is an engaging activity which I carry out with my children on daily basis to improve their Urdu and English reading skill while the quarantine period. This activity introduces the child with the different genres of the language leaning like syllable of the words, phrases, punctuation, grammar usage, tenses and sentence structure. If this continues for two or more weeks, it will have very positive effects on children’s cognitive and psychomotor skills. It will help to improve the child’s reading skills moving from easy to difficult levels mainly pronouncing different syllables words both in English and Urdu languages. Eventually, the child feels confidence with reading begins from one word, one syllable word to multi-syllable words, then reading a simple one line sentences to compound and complex sentences and so on.
As a whole, assessment has a great role in guiding the instructional practices. Assessment and feedback are most essential roles that the facilitator to play at the end of teaching and learning process where the schools may not be able to help your children because of limited time in crowded classrooms. This is simple and easy process as every textbook which you use contains very useful and challenging assessment excises at the end of each lesson and chapter. This is the most important area where the children need adult’s support. The important point her is that the adult should facilitate the process by helping the child in the time of need. It should never be done for the child. The objective of such kind of exercises is to engage the children in cognitive as well as in hands-on activities to improve their skills
It is portent to note that reading is inevitable to improve the linguistic skills. It also plays an important role in improving the understanding and comprehension of the child in other subjects such as mathematics, science and social sciences. Teaching and learning mathematics is also important to improve the critical thinking and problem solving skills of the students. Let’s have some exercises of mathematics with the children to learn jointly.
The next things after reading and writing, is to engage the children in solving mathematics exercise. Mostly children feel it difficult to remain busy with mathematics equations and concepts in the absent of adult support. When an adult support is provided in a friendly manner then children feel excited to do more. For instance, when I worked with my grade 5 son one solving equations, geometry and frictions. He got excited when I tried to relate the geometrical designs with his surrounding and daily lives examples. He measured up the length and width of my house, found out the parameters, areas and the cost of the house. It was amazing experience and I came to conclusion that children enjoy when math is taught with daily life examples. I also inferred from here that our education system mostly encourages children so solve mathematical problems to pass exams while failing to relate it with real life experiences. This is the best time to work to build on the conceptual understandings of our children.
Lastly, let make honest efforts to help children in this difficult time. We all are father, mother, elder sister and brother and of our younger generations. There might be plenty of sensible advices and you can add your own creativity and experience to make home teaching and learning more effective however, keep in mind clear objectives, effective plan and supervision with commitment, care and love.
The writer works as Regional Academic Coordinator in a private organization based in Gahkuch