Younger students adapt to online learning


M. Koehne works diligently on school work. Photo credit: Ethan Dobbins

As the 2020-2021 school year unfolds, students have differing opinions on the transition to an online schooling system. Students, especially of the younger demographic, may find it difficult to navigate between classes in an online environment.

Online school has been a significant change for all students, but for elementary and middle school students, it can be more challenging to navigate certain aspects of a digital classroom environment. 

First grade teacher Elizabeth Moore teaches at Woolridge Elementary School and approaches instruction for her students in a more visual way than high school teachers. 

“It has been difficult to learn and navigate Canvas and figure out how to make it user friendly for young children,” Moore said. “We use a lot of pictures and visuals since many first graders can not read yet. Much of the primary classroom involves hands-on activities, so we have had to be very creative when making our lessons.”

In an online setting, making sure every student is well-acquainted with the ‘classroom’ is very important. Parents must also adjust to having their children home much more frequently.

Third grade teacher Michelle Koehne is a mother of three elementary school students and one of the several parents and teachers adjusting to virtual education. 

“I miss the students,” Koehne said. “I miss just being able to watch them learn and not have the technology interfere with seeing what they do know. Many students choose to have their cameras and microphones off, so it’s very hard to give a lesson to a blank screen, because as a teacher you try to not only pay attention to verbal cues, but also facial expressions that tell you if a student is engaged, if they’re learning, if they’re confused and how you can help them.”

Fifth grade student Jackson Koehne was ready to go back to school after such a long break.

“I wasn’t too nervous,” J. Koehne said. “I was just a little bit nervous about all the time we’ve been out of school and how we haven’t been learning, and that just kind of concerned me a little bit.” 

Whether the student is just starting school or a seasoned veteran of the classroom, online school has proved to be a tough transition. Middle school students, who are more familiar with the technology than elementary students, also had trouble adapting to their new routine. 

Christopher Morris, a science teacher at Swift Creek Middle School, thinks that some aspects of online school should be incorporated into in-person learning. 

“I think the experience will definitely change the way we teach and work going forward,” Morris said. “Some good will come out of this mess. We need to be open to learning, risk-taking, and growing- as we should in life generally.”

While several students and teachers may struggle with the sudden change in learning, it is important that everyone is able to adapt to certain situations that will better prepare them for the future. While it may be difficult at first, students may find it beneficial to accept their current situation and see this as a learning opportunity and not just an unfortunate situation.