What Parents Want Teachers to Know About Online Education

Lizzie Ottenstein
Shreejana Mainali
Student jotting down notes while taking online classes.

More than 1.5 billion children are struggling to adapt to the new normal of online education, but we can’t forget parents are adapting too, and the pressure to keep children focused on school work while also working from home has been tough. Faculty can only implement effective online learning if they understand the challenges facing parents and their kids. Students do best in school when they have enthusiastic parental support and involvement. 

Here are few things parents want teachers to know about online education.

Most households lack stable internet access

It’s a mistake to assume that every household sending their child to school also has stable internet access and sufficient electronics. This is far from true. In Nepal, roughly 80% of households don’t have broadband internet access. The device shortage is even more widespread. This has resulted in a digital divide, putting low-income families and minority students at a major disadvantage.

Teachers should make asynchronous teaching a priority without mandating the online attendance of students who don’t have internet access. Instead of one-way online lectures (or perhaps in addition to them), teachers should design downloadable course work students can access anytime. But, the learning process doesn’t stop after the course work is done. 

Provide tangible feedback

Most parents are unfamiliar with online education and want to make sure their kids are learning as much as they did back in the classroom. This is possible when teachers provide tangible feedback to students and parents. This includes feedback about assignments or attentiveness during class. This will help parents understand their kid’s engagement and interest in school or a particular subject, and it can’t be done without communication. 

Clear and consistent communication 

Communication is key, especially in the new reality of online school. Faculty should make sure the school has a clear and open parent-teacher communication policy. Canvas found, from a sample of 1,003 US adults, that 30% reported unclear instructions and from their kid’s school. Regular two-way communication with clear, simple instructions, and progress updates is critical so everyone is on the same page. 

Even more, parents ought to be able to access their kid’s school’s learning management system. Here they can access information such as assignments, progress reports, grades, announcements, and so on. Or they can receive updates via Skype, ParentSquare, or Remind. Allowing parents to leverage what they know about their kid’s progress in school will help them be more involved overall. 

Involvement in the decision-making process

Virtual learning works better when parents are involved in planning and decision-making. Lack of parent involvement in the formulation of new plans and policies may create a bias in favor of some families and may have an effect on online retention. 

Be cognizant of  workload 

Last but not the least, parents want teachers to be empathetic and considerate of workload. The Canvas survey also revealed that 49% of parents found it challenging to balance chores with managing their kids’ schoolwork. Homework is necessary, but too much of it doesn’t lead to productivity. Children require time to play, explore, and be creative too. In the face of unprecedented challenges, home life can be especially challenging for some. Parents want teachers to be aware of this in light of the homework they give.

While these are challenging and unprecedented times, there are many things both parents and teachers can do to ensure our kids are getting the most out of their online education experience, and communication is at the center of this.