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Benefits of power play (The Standard, 13 July 2021)

Months of online learning due to the closure of schools during the pandemic may be a nightmare some parents and caregivers don’t want to relive.

Parents worry about their children’s learning progress and concentration, yet paradoxically, also worry about them spending too much time in front of screens. They also have to balance work, life and be more of a mentor because of the absence of teachers, which makes efforts to find ways to keep children physically and mentally healthy during the pandemic even more exhausting.

Although children have gradually returned to school after the Easter break and everything seems to be going back to normal, it’s tricky to prepare for a fun yet educational holiday for young children as summer approaches.

“Whether the adoption of online learning will continue to persist in its entirety post-pandemic remains to be seen,” said Allan Yuen Hoi-kau, president of Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education.

“However, some elements of online learning are here to stay. Hybrid teaching models are an alternative for teaching in the future.”

Education has changed irrevocably, so parenting methods needs to be adapted too, with more of a focus on the use of the internet.

While the internet provides countless sources of information, it also contains a lot of misinformation. In the absence of guidance from teachers, parents should guide their children and enhance their online and information literacy skills.

As part of his Play to Learn initiatives, Yuen suggests that parents become colearners, adopt a play-based learning approach and develop their children’s characters through hands-on experience.

“Learning is not only about academia,” Yuen said.

“Parents should not only limit their children’s learning to the purely academic sense of the term. With technology and software as tools, children can plan elements crucial to everyday life, such as financial and time management.”

One suggestion is that parents play online games with their children to help strengthen their child’s personality by giving them adaptation tools, readying them for real-life scenarios.

However, the “play” in the Play to Learn initiatives is not only limited to a specific activity – it is an approach that views playing and learning as interconnected.

“In other words, play is learning, and learning is playing,” Yuen said.

Parents or caregivers can play all sorts of games with their children at home during their children’s spare time, as playing any games demonstrates many elements of learning. For example, by playing the Angry Birds game, kids can learn about science or different human emotions and attitudes.

Others like ball games and board games are designed to have a clear objective and purpose with a set of rules.

The game’s dynamics enable children to achieve goals and objectives while following a set of rules. Parents can make use of the learning elements implemented in games to maximize learning outcomes.

To balance screen time and non-screen time during holidays, parents could set a particular length of time for the use electronic gadgets.

They can refer to the World Health Organization’s advice on the recommended daily screen time for children, which advises no more than one hour per day for those under five.

When giving children online tools, parents should assert their authority and clarify that children don’t have ownership.

Parents can also use technology to boost their children’s five senses through activities featuring real-life scenarios.

If children become addicted to electronic gadgets, parents can provide positive reinforcement by playing other games.

An example would be parents creating a joyful environment and incentives in playing without electronic gadgets to replace online devices and curating new activities.

“Using technology is a lifelong learning process for both parents and children as it is an inevitable practice in daily life,” said Yuen.

“Parents should go beyond education in certain online contexts as they learn how to live with technology in daily life with their children.”

Full article: https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/fc/4/232029/

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