Updated: Jul 29, 2020
The world is changing quickly and many parents are facing the difficult decision whether to send their kids to in person camps and classes or move to virtual learning. There is no right or wrong answer here, families around the world have different needs. Families must asses this issue together to determine the best route for them. However, we do all have something in common. We all want the best for our kids and we we are all facing a pandemic together.
As the owner of an after school company and a parent to two kids, ages 10 & 13, I am in the same boat. I am with you. The best thing we can do as parents is to educate ourselves on the risks and benefits of each option - and make our decision from that place.
Let's discuss the some of the major concerns around online learning and how it can effect our children's ability to learn, grow and thrive.
We may not all agree on how much is 'too much' screen time, but most parents will agree that we need to create boundaries around technology in regards to our children. I know in our home we have limits on screen time - understandably, it may feel counter-intuitive to add more technology time to your kids daily routine. But is all screen time equal? The simple answer is NO. If you are diligent in selecting high quality online courses for your kids, screen time doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can be very enriching. Try finding a company that shares in your values on screen time. In our online courses, we aim to balance out screen time with off-line activities and off-screen practice time. My suggestion here would be that if you are adding in additional screen time for online classes, balance it with other non-screen activities like crafts, reading or outside time whenever possible.
Let's be honest, online safety should be a top priority for any parent. Even if you don't typically allow your children to use technology at home, it's everywhere. Students are on computers and tablets at school, their friends have smartphones - it's unavoidable. We should all be educating our kids about basic online safety and monitoring their online use and interactions, regardless if we opt for online learning. With that said, if you are choosing an online learning program that is reputable and responsible, you can rest easy that your children are safe. Zoom classrooms have passwords to increase security and online platforms like teachable are a safe self guided learning option.
Online learning pulls ahead of traditional learning in this category. With Covid-19 cases increasing around the United States and across the world, in-person classes aren't available in many places and if they are, there is no guarantee that it is a safe option. Online learning gives you the option to keep kids' minds and/or bodies active even during a time of social distancing.
This is a big one. Home school moms all over have been facing this argument for ages. Is online learning going to slow down our kids social and emotional development? It doesn't have to. In a world of social distancing, online learning can be a great option for kids to socialize with peers. After about a month into quarantine, my girls were desperately missing their friends - so we hosted Zoom parties for them to catch up. Is it the same as in-person connections? No, but is it the next best thing: YES! If you are concerned about social / emotional development, opt for live Zoom classes and camps instead of self-guided video lessons. Kids will get to see and interact with their instructor and their peers, they may even make some new friends along the way!
Quality of Content
Is it possible to get the same quality of education out of an 'online' class versus traditional learning? Yes, but not without some due diligence on the part of the parents. Sorry guys, but not all online learning is equal. However, it is absolutely possible to have high quality classes with amazing instructors - just virtually. Find a company or instructor that is passionate about their mission. At Mad About Hoops, we want to enrich the lives of children through fitness and we wont let social distancing stop that. We've had to get creative with our curriculum to keep kids engaged, but it's possible. So, do some research. Talk to other parents and ask questions. With a little footwork, you can find a program that your kiddo loves and grows from!
Again, online learning here is the winner. No carpool, no traffic, no lunches to pack - just open up a laptop and you're ready to go! Opt for a self guided video course versus live zoom class for added convenience and you don't even have to add it to the schedule - you can log on and off whenever you'd like and most of the time, you get to keep the material forever and repeat as many times as you'd like! If your family is anything like mine, the forceful entry into distance learning made my kids a little zoom-ed out. And with in-person summer camps being out of the question, we'll opt for self-guided courses. So I'll just wait for them to announce their favorite quarantine phrase of 'I'm Bored' and BAM - send them to their virtual classroom.
Last but certainly not least, online learning is much more cost effective than traditional classes or camps. With many families taking a financial hit due to Covid, cost can be huge factor in many cases. The good news is that online learning tends to be significantly cheaper, sometimes 50% or more than a traditional camp. For example, our Mad About Hoops zoom camps are only $50 per week as compared with some in person camps being $200 - $300 per week. Savings like that means even during difficult times we can still provide our children with much needed education and enrichment.
Bottom line, times are tough and online learning doesn't have to be. Our children need to continue expanding their minds, learning and growing even during a pandemic. Children need a sense of normalcy now more than ever. Why not opt for quality online instruction in the safety of your home for a fraction of the price? Seems like a winner to me!
What do you think? Are you going to be opting for online classes this summer? If so, what are you favorites? If not, let us know why! We'd love to connect with you @MadAboutHoops.
If you are looking for high quality fitness instruction for your kiddos, be sure to check out our super fun Hula Hoop classes. We've got self-guided courses or join our interactive classes for a more personal experience!