Whether we like it or not, remote learning or #HBL is here to stay, and we have to adapt (or in Gov-speak, “pivot”) to this hybrid school model. There may be technical glitches and a huge learning curve, but as stay-at-home-mum Cheryl Lim reckons, “Just brave it!” Indeed. But really, virtual schooling isn’t that bad. If there’s one thing that home-based learning has succeeded in achieving, it’s getting our kids extremely fluent in tech. Cheryl’s five- and seven-year-old children for example, use apps like Zoom and Whatsapp with ease.
Furthermore, some kids are passing on their multi-tasking online skills to the silver generation. Jamie Yeo’s 10-year-old daughter Aly, for instance, “a master at iPad” — which she uses for her school’s home-based learning, and for tuition classes — recently taught her grandfather how to use Zoom.
“She taught my 71-year-old dad, who’s a tutor, how to use Zoom on the iPad so he can teach his students over Zoom. It was very sweet to hear her telling him that ‘It’s so easy to share screen!'” the media personality and Lula J Jewelry founder recounted.
As #HBL and #WFH remain a constant in our lives, are you still wondering how you can make the remote learning sitch work for everyone in the family? These hacks and tips from fellow parents could help.
1. Give each child their own space, and their own device, if possible
Quiet corners are a must. If learning is in progress, everyone in the house tries to minimise our movements and noise level as well. — Elizabeth Wu, Cofounder and COO, Trehaus, mum of three children aged 13, 12, and 10
I separate my kids during HBL for my sanity: divide and conquer. The Primary 6 one is in the study room with his father, for close monitoring. Otherwise the kids will either chit chat or squabble if they are at the same table. — Adeline Tan, Homemaker, mum to three children aged 12, 11 & 4
My kids do their HBL in three different rooms: the living room, Jiejie’s own room, and the boys’ room. Jiejie uses a MacBook, the boys use a Lenovo, and a Dell. — Allan, Business Development Manager, dad to 3 kids aged 10, 14, and 16
And if having each child in a different room is not possible…
2. Sync Bluetooth headphones to their devices
We use the iPad, and Bluetooth headphones that are individually synced to each iPad, so the kids can focus on their own lessons even though they are all in the same room at the same time. — Dr Fock Ee-Ling, Founder of The Missing Piece, mum to three kids aged 10, and 8 year old twins
As we all work in the same study room, the girls use Jaybird bluetooth earphones for audio isolation. My daughters (above) use the latest iPad Pro 11″, one each, for their school’s HBL. The iPad Pros are paired to bluetooth keyboards and mice, and they use their Apple Pencils for art-related work. They have other supplementary classes where they use a separate iPad Air (one each) as their Zoom display while they continue to do their work on their iPad Pros. — Joash Chee, Customer Experience Office, dad to a pair of 11-year-old twin girls
Also, remember to…
3. Sync your calendars and set reminders
We sync our reminders across our different iPads, so I can drop the links for their Zoom meetings and access them easily across devices. Each of my daughters has her own room where she has the privacy to attend her online classes, but for the younger ones I need to sit next to them and supervise or assist them. — Dawn Sim, Co-founder of Trium Fitness, mum to four girls aged 15, 13, 9, and 5
That said, it is important to
4. Use “targeted persuasion” if necessary
I tell her to ‘clear your homework and you can play’. Or ‘clear your homework, and do extra. Then you can have snacks’. Gummies always do the magic! — Ratna, Homemaker, mum to a 5-year-old
5. Keep them well-fed
“Prepare the fridge with tons of food. The kids are constantly in hunger mode.” — Allan
6. Get organised
I am quite particular about their studying and learning space being clutter-free as I believe this helps reduce anxiety, and helps with setting the mood for learning. The kids are reminded to get their stationery, files, notes, and books ready and within reach while they prepare for their screen sessions. — Elizabeth Wu
Having a dedicated device for my child to use helps. And his daddy also pasted the login ids and passwords on the laptop so my son has them all in front of him when he needs them. — Mae Phua, Business Manager, mum to an 11-year-old
I use Family Sharing to share App Store purchases as well as iCloud storage to allow my daughters to save their work, projects, and access everything across devices. — Dawn Sim
7. Do test runs
It is important to ensure that the headphones/ earpieces and microphones are working. Also, different remote learning sessions require different apps. My kids use Zoom, ClassIn, SLS, and Google Meet. Usually we test them out and navigate each app together. My husband and I standby as their IT tech support for the first time they use each app. — Elizabeth Wu
8. For younger ones, a touchscreen device may work better
An iPad is way easier to use for online classes for my 5-year-old daughter compared to computers or the laptop. She just has to touch the screen and it allows her to work on interactive activities on a larger screen, compared to a mobile device. — Dawn Sim
9. Use the Apple Pencil
The Apple Pencil makes interactive tuition classes much easier as my kids can do questions and papers directly on the screen. They also like to draw, so they use Apple Pencil and Notes to draw out their initial draft for projects that they work on. We can then save the picture, and print it out to make cards if we want to. — Dr Fock Ee-Ling
10. Manage their screen time
I can customise the allowed Screen Time for apps, so we let the kids have some creative time playing Minecraft as they will automatically have to log out after 45 minutes. — Dr Fock Ee-Ling
Do the occasional spot check on them when they are on the laptops. I also use a timer to track the time they spend on their devices. — Adeline Tan
I tell them that if they finish their work earlier, they get to play earlier. This always works on my kids, who will play anything from table tennis to board games to painting, building things with cardboard… — Marion Yeo, Administrator, mum to two children aged 10, and 8 years old
We set a schedule that involves a mix of screen- and off-screen time. Board games work brilliantly. We go the creative and cheap route by enjoying “print and play” games that are easy to find on the Internet. As for screen-time that is purely for entertainment, our girls have 60 minutes of Minecraft, Nintendo Switch, or some other electronic game (split into two sessions of 30 minutes with a break in-between). This has worked well, with no complaints or tantrums from the girls. — Joash
Remote Learning Hacks for #HBL
Great tips? We think so too. But do remember that what works for one kid may not necessarily work for another. As a parent, it is important to know your child’s learning style, and adapt ideas and methods for ultimate success. Which remote learning hacks work for you and your child?