Home-Based Learning (HBL) is bound to become a regular part of school life in Singapore, no matter if there’s a pandemic or not. The spread of COVID-19 has set the perfect stage for experimenting with HBL and blended learning, and in the past months, it’s become clear that these methods of instruction can provide students with a more enriching educational experience and offer more opportunities to carry out innovative teaching strategies. Many learners who are digital natives are also quite adept at navigating digital environments, and this level of familiarity has enabled them to adapt and respond well to the challenges brought about by shifting to an online classroom.
Still, there are plenty of issues that the government needs to address to ensure that Singapore-based students have equitable access to HBL resources and online learning tools and platforms. Currently, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has a program that aims to equip all secondary school students with smart devices and data plans, enabling them to consistently attend online classes. The government is also developing and improving digital education programs and platforms that students and teachers can use to supplement their learning experiences and teaching strategies. Academic institutions are following the government’s lead, and some of the best IB schools in Singapore are also providing their students with online learning-friendly tools and devices, as well as customized HBL and blended learning programs.
Creating a Home Environment That Is Conducive to Learning
Many students will be studying at home while on an HBL or a blended learning program. As such, parents should take an active role in ensuring that they can provide their children with a home environment that is conducive to HBL or blended learning. Offering support in the following ways will help children maximize the benefits of regular lessons or supplementary language classes that are conducted through distance learning channels.
- Get to Know the Program
Different schools have different ways of conducting HBL and blended learning programs. Parents need to familiarize themselves with how their children’s school plans to approach these new modes of learning. They can do this by getting to know their kids’ schedules, checking the topics that the program will cover, and recognizing the opportunities for self-learning afforded by the program. If needed, parents can change their children’s scheduled activities at home to give them more time to work on their lessons and research activities. For example, they can dedicate the entire morning to HBL and the afternoon for chores and rest.
- Talk to Their Children About the HBL Experience
Asking the students how their day went even though they spent most of it at home is a great way of gauging how they feel about their new learning arrangement. This can also help the students feel that they’ve accomplished something despite staying put for a good portion of the day. In particular, parents can ask their kids about the topics that caught their interest the most, the challenges they faced and how they overcame these hurdles or the difficulties of tackling a particular task. Talking about school at the end of every day can lead to deeper conversations while sparking new interests.
- Encourage Their Children to Stay Curious and Focused
Unlike face-to-face classes, HBL and blended learning programs are designed to give students more opportunities to explore the topics and subjects that interest them. Parents should encourage their children to research subjects that have caught their attention and see how their interests can be applied to real-world situations or related to the other topics that they are currently studying. At the same time, though, parents should make a point to remind their children to stay safe and use proper etiquette when researching and interacting with other people online.
- Practice Time Management and Set Reasonable Limits
Depending on the students’ level of maturity, they can stick to their schedule or completely lose track of time while studying at home. It’s the parents’ responsibility to help their children develop proper time management habits and healthy lifestyles. If a student is staying up late or missing meals to finish their academic endeavors, their parents should step in and help them stick to a healthier schedule. If a child is slacking off or playing games instead of attending HBL and blended learning lessons, then their parents should also help them organize and sort out their priorities.
- Bridge the Generation Gap and Be More Willing to Learn
Part of creating a home environment that is conducive to learning is adopting the perspective of a student. The willingness to learn will help parents get up to speed with the changes in the education system in recent months, and becoming more familiar with HBL and blended learning arrangements will put them in the position to better assist the students in their homes. Keeping an open mind and refraining from comparing educational experiences will also help parents become more informed citizens while strengthening their bonds with their children.
Shifting to an HBL or blended learning setup has its challenges. However, with full support from the government and their parents, students will be able to keep up with these changes and explore new ways of using modern technology to improve their learning experiences