Online Solutions for Reading and Language Problems: The New Normal?

It’s no secret that parents are experiencing unprecedented challenges in their child’s educational journey in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents feel at the end of their rope trying to juggle homeschooling with their own workload – but what if a child is also struggling with language, reading and other learning difficulties? Edublox investigates the merits of online and home-based intervention programmes for households with internet connections and provides tips to parents on how to navigate this difficult situation as we embark on a post-lockdown world.

According to Susan du Plessis, Director of Educational Programmes at Edublox, parents might be more aware than ever that their children are struggling with a reading or learning difficulty. “Many parents, in an attempt at keeping their children entertained and feeling secure during an uncertain emotional time, have read aloud and together more often than usual. In the past, it was usually poor end-of-term report cards that indicated a problem – but after months of quality time and homeschooling, parents have experienced first-hand which specific struggles are frustrating their children academically.” She adds: “Another reason why the need to tackle a reading, learning or language difficulty has become urgent, is because certain schools provide remedial services, but parents and learners are unable to access them at the moment. The result is that children are regressing in terms of the progress they have made so far.”

The good news is that online programmes may provide a tangible solution for some of the academic difficulties while children are unable to return to their normally full schedules. Du Plessis shares some tips on identifying providers that can deliver seamless online support programmes:

  • It might seem like a bad time to start searching for solutions while parents are still unsure of when exactly their children’s schools will reopen , but it can be a saving grace for a child to start with a suitable programme in the interim. It can be a positive experience to start a structured programme that a child can be comfortable with before they are uprooted again, and the everyday pressures of school resume (in addition to the pressures of adhering to Covid-19 safety measures).
  • Assisting children with language and reading problems don’t always require formal assessments or medical diagnoses, but some guidance is required. Search for providers that are able to perform online, interactive home-based assessments in case you are not yet comfortable with physical appointments. Edublox, for example, focuses on identifying which cognitive skills areas are lacking and makes recommendations based on the results of an in-house assessment tool.
  • Parents might feel burned out by their efforts to wear the hat of a teacher and may be weary of programmes that require them to take on even more teaching responsibilities. Look for tutor-based programmes where tutors/educational professionals interact live with children in small groups, or online platforms that are designed for minimal input from the parents.
  • Ensure that the provider is knowledgeable in presenting educational support content via services like Zoom, Google Classrooms and Skype. It’s not enough to simply ‘show up’ online – the lessons must be engaging, quality controlled and suited towards the online medium.
  • It’s also important for parents to consider whether a provider poses long-term opportunities for the child and has a variety of options and services available regardless of national lockdown levels or infection rates. This way, parents can ensure that their children continue their journey without being disrupted.

Du Plessis concludes: “Our lives and our children’s education have been disrupted by the pandemic in many ways, but I’m confident that language and reading difficulties can be tackled where professionals and providers have opted to redefine their services for a new reality. Parents, there is hope – and you are doing a stellar job navigating your children through this crisis. I am cheering you on!”

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July 1, 2020

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