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Child E-Learning: Building Strengths, Unlearning Weaknesses

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Students celebrating at a graduation ceremony.
Mission accomplished!

Education has always been the cornerstone of a vibrant and successful society. Children learn essential skills like reading, writing, mathematics, arithmetic, sciences, and other fundamental learning principles that will follow them throughout the rest of their lives.

But not every child benefits from a one-size-fits-all education system. In the current state of global affairs, with schools forced to remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children and their teachers have shifted gears towards online learning in order to minimize disruptions to the school year. It’s an approach that can benefit some, hinder others, and raise many questions about how best to apply the curriculum through e-learning.

Why do children struggle with online learning?

A child with an open mind and a thirst for knowledge excels in an environment with in-class engagement. An engaged child takes in new ideas, listens to new information, and processes their own thoughts and ideas to digest that knowledge in a way that makes sense to them.

What helps drive that engagement? Having direct contact with the teacher to ask questions about the topic, or simply to clarify a difficult point helps a child feel comfortable with what they learn which, in turn, makes them feel engaged. Online learning has no direct in-person support, replaced by virtual support between screens. While the difference may not seem significant, it can be a more difficult way for a child to develop that comfort and engagement.

Some children are very adept at e-learning

On the other hand, some children have proven to thrive as the coronavirus forces schools to close and the curriculum to shift online. One teacher in Alexandria, Virginia has found that students who have been either very shy or acting like “the class clown” in her classroom are suddenly finding their creative niche in lockdown-induced e-learning.

Given the disparity of responses in performance and acquisition of knowledge, it’s hard to pinpoint why some children are more successful at e-learning than others. However, what the response to e-learning on a global scale does suggest is that the curriculum itself and the way that educational material is taught to children is in need of an overhaul.

If nothing else is learned throughout the pandemic, what we should all be consciously aware of is that every child learns in a different way. As teachers, as parents and just as adults with more life experience than the children in our lives, we need to rethink how we impart knowledge and wisdom. If it doesn’t resonate with the child, it’s not going to stick.

Play to a child’s strengths with differentiated learning

Every teacher will identify perceived strengths and weaknesses in each child in their classroom. But what teachers should start to formulate in their own minds, particularly in the era of COVID-19, is are those strengths and weaknesses perceived by them as teachers, or are they inherent within the child themselves?

For instance, a child may naturally excel at reading and writing, but may just as equally struggle with mathematics. Does that mean reading is a strength and math is a weakness, or is it simply that the way the material is taught in the curriculum resonates in a different way for that particular child?

Use e-learning to change the education process

Every child has the ability to learn, but how they learn is unique. If a child has a natural aptitude for reading and writing, why not lean on that skill? For example, you can repurpose elements of the curriculum, i.e. mathematics, away from graphs and formulas that a child must memorize. Instead, teach the basic concepts in the form of a story that you can put on the screen:

  1. Allow the child to read and interpret the crux of the problem at hand

  2. The child can write down the key points of the story in their notebook at home to start the problem solving process

  3. They’ll identify the path to the solution, even if they don’t fully comprehend the formulas for how to get there

They may not have the exact answer to the problem, but they can use reading and writing to gain a basic understanding of how to find the solution. Then, as an instructor, you can help them fill in the blanks by using the numbers to help fill in the rest of the story.

By teaching them to think of the problem less of a math problem and more of a function of storytelling, the knowledge is imparted in a way that resonates for that child. That makes it far more likely for the concepts to sink into their minds. Once they understand the concepts, they can apply those same problem solving skills to the next step in the curriculum.

Help a child unlearn their perceived weaknesses

Part of learning and development is as much about unlearning things you’ve been led to believe as much as it is about learning new skills and ideas. The greatest barrier to knowledge, understanding, and acceptance in any human being is what lies inside. We all have our own demons that inhibit our potential, and those same demons convince our brains that we lack particular skills or have a glaring weakness in one specific field.

For a child in the crucial stages of their development, these perceived weaknesses influence their ability to learn and, therefore, their ability to achieve good grades. If a child feels inherently ill-equipped or incapable of succeeding at a particular subject, that same child will always struggle with those subjects, leaving grades and performance negatively affected as a result.

Adapt the learning material to help a child discover their inner knowledge

Remember that every child is different, and how they absorb new information varies depending on their learning style. The one-size-fits-all approach of the traditional education system must be adapted to resonate with children on an individual level.

Now, creating a custom learning program for every child in a school is next to impossible. Teachers are responsible for mapping out the curriculum for a school year, evaluating their students’ performances, providing feedback and ongoing support for children in need, and a host of other responsibilities. It’s unrealistic to expect that every child in a school receives a customized learning program.

That’s why teachers and parents can work together with remote academic service providers, like Sapphire Studies, to build customized e-learning programs that repurpose elements of the curriculum for children in need. We use our unique “steam engine approach” to learning by helping students double down on their strengths, and teaching them how to unlearn their perceived weaknesses with new problem solving skills. Working in tandem with each child we support, we help transform those weaknesses into fuel (knowledge) to power the steam engine towards its intended destination – i.e. the test or project coming up on the calendar.

Build a child’s confidence and watch them excel

Each individual has the potential to succeed at whatever they set their mind towards. But no one can truly be successful without the right support to help guide them towards their intended destination. Help can come in many forms, but it can only be comprehended by the individual in need if it’s offered in a way that makes sense to that particular person’s learning style.

Every child has the ability to learn, and every child also has room to improve. Once they feel confident about what they learn and how they learn it, they’ll feel more inspired and more engaged. That’s when they open their minds to new ideas and new opportunities that can take them anywhere they want to go in life.

It all starts with a custom helping hand, and the learning skills they need to breed confidence from within. When a child feels that inner strength, their potential is limitless.

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