Parents and elementary students navigate virtual learning difficulties during COVID-19 pandemic

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Some elementary students are having problems with virtual learning as they and their parents navigate online lessons.

5-year old Na’Kyah Chambers is in Kindergarten. She was doing virtual learning for the first time Tuesday morning at her great grandmothers house. She had completed two sessions earlier with one teacher, but for her math session she was getting a new teacher.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” said Chambers.

She wishes she could go back to school to be in a classroom though. Going to school is much more “funner” than being alone at a desk.

“Because there’s going to be a lot of different people there. We’re going to have so much fun. We get to have recess. We get to have icees and everything like that and we get to run outside.”

For Chambers, she says virtual learning is okay, but can be frustrating because sometimes her teachers don’t recognize her hand. During Zoom sessions, although she may raise her hand to answer questions, it’s hard for teachers to see her in class amongst her other online peers.

Chambers also says she likes to answer all the questions to get them right, but her teachers haven’t recognized her hand so far.

Tuesday morning, she was having trouble logging in to her math session. For nearly 45 minutes her grandmother, Tina Chambers, was trying to get her back in. Between communicating with her first teacher, Wi-Fi issues and being at work Chambers says this will be a challenge.

“But I think we can get through it. I would prefer if she was in the classroom setting, but due to COVID we chose virtual learning instead. I keep up with her teacher via an app and all you have to do is text her and she’s very helpful.”

Chambers says the website and tools are user-friendly. While trying to get Na’Kyah back in class, she received a phone call from the school principal who walked her through how to get the 5-year old logged back in.

That line of communication isn’t always readily available for some parents. Martin Denesse is a father working from home and helping his two boys in third and forth grade navigate virtual learning.

“I didn’t even know who their teachers were until after they started. From there, I didn’t have logins for a couple days. When we finally got the teacher and the login, the platforms weren’t working. You know it’s a lot to ask a third grader to navigate six hours of video content a day. Then for my oldest we go to log in and nothing’s working,” said Denesse.

He took off Tuesday to solely focus on what he thought would be a full first day of school. Unfortunately, everything wasn’t working. His youngest son’s teacher has been actively keeping in contact via email to give updates. His oldest son’s teacher hasn’t reached out at all.

He’s taken charge in educating his children themselves.

“I understand teachers are going through a lot. They have like a lot thrown on them right now cause what they’ve been asked to do for the last eight months is literally a task in itself. It’s still frustrating, cause I still have to work.”

This can have long term affects on the children according to Angela Pellerin with LSUS Counseling Services. She says that there’s been studies since the pandemic first happened by the American Psychological Association about the developmental aspects of children in kindergarten to 5th grade.

“At those age ranges the socio-emotional learning and cognitive functioning in academic development are still developing so their ability to maintain their own attention, self regulate their emotions to get back on track when their attention’s been distracted is challenging,” said Pellerin.

She says it’s vital for adults or older siblings to work with elementary children. This can be hard when there’s an economic or digital divide for virtual learning to occur. The long term affects of creating academic gaps with children in this age range result with problems with reading.

“There’s also that argument that we learn from our peers too, so if we’re at home away from them there’s that.”

Long term sitting can impact how they absorb information.

Exercising is needed for children between virtual lessons.

“Not being able to engage in the material, all the digital technology issues, if you have parents working inside the home, outside the home, it impacts their ability to stay engaged. Motivation can fall tremendously and even self esteem can start to fall if they’re not doing as well.”

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