How schools, students, teachers and parents can adjust to the new normal.
This year has been an undeniably bumpy ride for students in Hong Kong, with classes first being suspended in February. Most schools reopened in May with a whole host of safety measures before closing for the summer. After the current academic year began online, there was a round of (muted) celebration last week when the EDB announced that schools will resume face-to-face classes by the end of the month. With schedules and routines changing almost every month, adaptability is the new mantra and there is no denying that the pandemic is reshaping education as we know it.
From using a mixture of online and offline tech platforms to providing learning kits, schools, online tutorial centres and parents are all getting much better at distance learning. Education and technology will continue to intersect to further reshape what teaching will look like. When schools resume, they are likely to go back to half days and continue with pre-recorded lessons and worksheets for the afternoon sessions. It is difficult to navigate all these ongoing changes (with a positive mindset), but fear not, there are plenty of resources that will help both you and your child cope. So how can you make the most of this new normal scenario? Here are our tips and recommendations for parents.
Expand Your Search
One of the things that this pandemic has taught us is that we are all in it together. Teachers and parents the world over have been posting ideas and learning materials while stuck in lockdown, that you can access and often for free. If you have found something that worked for your child, don’t give up on it even as schools resume.
Set Boundaries And A Routine
If you and your child have been really struggling with focusing and keeping up with schoolwork these past few months, know that you are not alone. Try setting aside a specific learning space at home to keep your child’s motivation levels up, but be sure to have it separate from your child’s relaxing space (such as their bedroom). This will help make the boundaries between school and downtime clearer.
Keep a schedule for your kids to follow and stick to throughout the day (model it on your child’s actual school timetable). Again, this will mainly help kids pivot from playtime to lesson time. When your kids go back to face-to-face classes, make sure they have set aside time for homework and revision.
Have Video Call Study Sessions
Encourage your child to video call their classmates and friends to have virtual study sessions together! This will help them interact despite not being able to physically meet and they can encourage and tutor each other as well. The advantage of video call studies is that they can be extended to family overseas as well. You can get the grandparents in on the action by getting them to call in for storytelling and reading sessions.
Communicate With The School And Teachers
Sometimes the emails from school and the teachers seem just too much! Unfortunately though, in this new normal, it’s the only way to make sure that critical information doesn’t get missed. Let your children’s teachers know what is working and what isn’t (politely though, because they are doing their best too in these unusual times!) and share what you have learnt and observed about your child’s abilities, habits and interests. Join the class parents’ WhatsApp groups (if you haven’t already) and stay abreast of the latest study and health-related updates and reminders.
It’s no secret that the mental load on parents has increased exponentially with this pandemic (that’s not likely to change even when the kids return to in-person classes and offices reopen). Many mums and dads are exasperated as they feel they are now being forced to take on teaching roles that they weren’t equipped for. You are not failing as a parent if you reach out to a tutor or a tutoring centre for learning support for your child, if available and if you can afford it. Tutoring centres can help your child understand difficult concepts and answer any questions they may be struggling with. Tutors are knowledgeable, caring and helpful and they’ll have the right resources on hand for any curriculum. We’ve listed below some tutoring centres in Hong Kong below. If you only want homework support, you could also look at online tutors based overseas who often charge only by the hour and can be quite reasonable. As mentioned earlier, expand your search to get your child the right help.
Online Extracurricular Classes
Just because classes aren’t being physically held doesn’t mean your child has to stop all their extracurricular activities! Now might be the time to sign up for online coding, language or music classes. You could also reach out to a local charity or non-profit organisation to see if they need any volunteers to get your child involved in a meaningful after-school activity.
Tutoring Centres In Hong Kong
For You Education offers tutors who are experts in both the local and international school curriculum. Most of their tutors have graduated from the ESF or other international schools, so they are familiar with Hong Kong’s education system and teaching styles. Special discounts will be offered for students who wish to create a class with their friends (the more the merrier, right?).
HKETS offers IB, A-level and IGCSE tutoring to both local and international school students in Hong Kong. Lessons can be hosted at their tutoring centre, which is based in Central, via Skype or even at a location chosen by the student.
NTK specialises in providing standardised test preparation and consulting services to high school students, most of whom are international school or overseas students.
ITS Education has services that cater to students at a primary, secondary and tertiary level. If you’re homeschooling your child currently and would like some additional support, ITS has the appropriate resources and curriculum. It also provides a specialised online classroom so that students who are not based in or living in Hong Kong at the moment can easily join the classes.
IT Education Asia, 4/F, BOC Group Life Assurance Tower, 134-136 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong
Snapask is a tutoring app that aims to get answers to students’ questions as fast as possible, at any time of any given day, from a knowledgeable tutor. Just take a snapshot of the material and they will pair you with a tutor almost instantaneously for a one-on-one lesson. Subscription packages are available.
Editorial disclaimer: The contributor is employed by For You Education as a IB English Literature and History tutor.