Parents weigh in on online learning

Published 8:47 am Saturday, April 11, 2020

After the initial transition to online learning, students in kindergarten through twelfth grade have begun settling into a new routine. This new schedule warrants change for everyone involved: teachers, faculty, staff, students and parents.

The Coastland Times spoke to some parents to hear comments, concerns or thoughts that they had after helping their children transition to digital learning.

I think while it’s been wonderful to get a front row seat to my children’s education, the drawback is that I don’t feel like my first grader is getting the stimulation and encouragement that he was getting from a professional in a group learning setting,” Rebecka McDonald said.

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McDonald’s first grader attends Manteo Elementary School. She has three other sons under the age of 7 years old, and has found it difficult to fully focus on her son’s school work and help out.

“I’ve talked my mom friends whose children are still in elementary school that are struggling to answer questions correctly on important tests and are wondering if their kid’s grades will ultimately suffer,” McDonald shared.

McDonald and others shared their concerns when it comes to their child’s success and the role the parent plays in helping develop that success.

“For parents who are still working, I can imagine this would be incredibly difficult for both the parents and the student when you have to tackle all the videos and links and logins after a long work day,” Timmery Kelly said. Kelly’s son is a kindergartener at Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

Some younger students, like Kelly Van Druten’s kindergartener, who is enrolled in a dual language program at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, have found it difficult to learn remotely when it comes to certain subjects. “Not unexpectedly, Spanish has been more challenging,” Van Druten said.

While every parent’s experience with digital learning varies, everyone seems to agree that the teachers have done what they can to make the transition a little easier.

“I think the highlight of my third grader’s school week was when the teacher held a Google Hangout for the class. For him to see his teacher’s smiling face and the smiling faces of his classmates was reassuring and a reminder that they still have each other in these different times,” said Cindy Benton.

Benton has a ninth grader at First Flight High School and a third grader at Kitty Hawk Elementary School. Although online learning cannot compare to face-to-face interaction, Benton felt the school staff has tried to incorporate some “normalcy” into their students learning time.

Along with making time to see their students, many parents felt that the teachers were taking time to check on the mental status of their class. “I have noticed teachers that are not only providing assignments and educational material, but are also checking on student’s mental well-being,” Nancy Sugg said. Sugg has a ninth grader at FFHS.

The general consensus among parents was that most students miss seeing their classmates, teammates and friends on a regular basis. “Both our girls clearly miss being at the school,” Donna Trivette said. Trivette as two high school girls at FFHS.

In the same regard, not having to go to school has given families the unique opportunity to spend the weekdays together. Parents have been able to see first-hand what their child is learning and working on.

Annette Lamm touched on this: “I love being a witness to their school day. Being a part of their school day is such priceless time for me that I have extremely enjoyed.” Lamm has three daughters that attend FFHS and KHES.

Lamm has also found that her girls are gaining more independence through this time of transition. Other parents of high school students have spoken to this, referring to a “college mentality” that online learning promotes, where you are fully and solely responsible for your own work.

Overall, everyone was grateful for the resources provided by the school system and their continued dedication to the success of their students. “I feel very fortunate to live in Dare County. They were able to get us up and running so fast. We have amazing teachers and school board members,” Colleen Hogan said. She has two children, one at Manteo Middle School and the other at Nags Head Elementary School.

In the same token, everyone agreed that online learning is clearly no substitute to classroom time and face-to-face interaction. “I really do hope they [the students] are able to go back to school in the middle of May,” Susan Flythe, mother to a freshman at Cape Hatteras Secondary School, said. “I think it would be really good if they could see everyone again.”

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