Online Learning: Your Questions Answered

As international schools in Thailand settle into several weeks of online learning, WhichSchoolAdvisor gets advice from Brighton College Bangkok, Prem Tinsulanonda International School, and Wellington College, Bangkok about the best ways to educate your child at home.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

News that Thailand schools were closing temporarily gave students and parents just one day to get ready for the move to online learning. In light of global school closures and the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the announcement was not a surprise to many though – and international schools were well-prepared for distance learning.

As we come to the start of the second week of online learning – and with several more likely to come –­ we asked Brighton College, Bangkok headmaster Mike Walton; Prem Tinsulanonda International School junior school principal Justin Jarman; and Wellington College International, Bangkok master Christopher Nicholls for their advice and guidance on home educating your child.

All lessons at Brighton College, Bangkok have moved online temporarily

How can I create a classroom environment at home where my child will happy and positive while learning?

Brighton College: Firstly, children are going to require some structure, so work with them to devise a timetable that will cover all of the work they need to complete during the day. Make the study area as comfortable as possible, with natural daylight, a comfortable chair and all the necessary resources to hand. Children can even have music in the background, as long as it’s not too distracting.

Make sure to build in some time for snacks and relaxation, ideally including some exercise outside to rejuvenate the mind and body.

Wellington College: Try to follow the timetable as closely as possible in key areas: start time, online sessions, break time, and lunch time. For the time allotted for tasks themselves, if they run a little long in one area or finish early in another, do not stress, as long as they are giving a solid effort.

Prem: When your child is doing their assigned work, offer them some feedback, both positive and constructive. In recent years, a massive educational study conducted by John Hattie demonstrated that providing feedback significantly correlates with student achievement. 

“Your story is really interesting to read because there is so much suspense, like when the main character is being chased through the jungle by the monster. Perhaps your story could get even better if you added some strong adjectives and adverbs.”

The classrooms at Wellington College, Bangkok are currently closed

What do I need to do to prepare for the next few weeks of online learning?

Brighton College: It’s possible that your children will feel more comfortable with online learning than you think. Just make sure their device is well charged, and that they have access to all the services and websites that they need. They will inevitably need your support at some point, so make sure to have the email address of their teachers in case of any confusion.

Wellington College: A good school should prepare the curriculum in a way that supports the learning that took place at school as much as possible, without requiring parents to teach at home. If parents can prepare a space for their children that allow them to focus on their assigned work, that would be helpful. But it is important not to pressure students to be able to do everything perfectly.   

My child is preparing to take exams in the spring. I’m worried that online learning will disrupt their education.

Brighton College: We all have concerns about how long the virus will affect our day to day lives, but with end of year exams visible on the horizon, we’re ensuring that our pupils don’t miss a beat in terms of their education. Our teachers are running classes by video conference, and are using tools like Google Classroom to set and mark work in real time.

Each pupil has a full timetable to follow every day, ensuring that teaching continues as normal and that pupils dedicate the required amount of time to each of their exam subjects.

Wellington College: This COVID-19 situation is an unprecedented issue that affects everyone and everything around the world in a way that we haven’t seen since World War II. Industries and travel have been massively disrupted on a global scale, so everyone is in the same boat. We are all adapting to this situation.

Early years at Brighton College, Bangkok

Young children learn through play, so how can I replicate this hands-on early years’ education at home?

Brighton College: Learning through play is a great starting point for any activity. We’ve recommended to parents that they use the main topic of the day as inspiration. For instance, making ‘sneeze art’ with coloured water and a spray bottle, or creating posters about how to wash your hands well.

Wellington College: Teachers can offer Zoom lessons so kids can interact with their peers and are assigned age-appropriate tasks, which include games that can be played and other activities that do not necessarily require screen time.

Prem: Don’t feel that you are limited to the work that has been outlined by your child’s teachers. Parents are welcome to get creative. You might ask your child to write a story, keep a journal, read a book or novel, or make a store with products and currency they create to play “store” with their brother, mom or dad.

For early years children, imaginary play is one of the most powerful ways that children learn. Parents, can you play ‘house’ or ‘store’ with your child? Perhaps you could take turns creating puppet shows with your child’s stuffed toys?

My child has daily language classes. How can languages such as Mandarin continue to be taught remotely?

Brighton College: Language teachers are able to teach remotely, using a combination of textbook work and video conferencing for speaking and listening practice. As face-to-face communication is so important when learning a language, our pupils know that working from home need not be an excuse for missing out on essential teaching and learning time. 

Wellington College: At Wellington College, tasks, printable worksheets, and teaching videos are made available through Seesaw and Firefly.

Wellington College, Bangkok students are adjusting to distance learning this week

Will my child still have PE lessons?

Brighton College: Our PE staff have produced a series of videos to help pupils get their exercise at home. These can range from aerobics videos for the younger pupils, to yoga and strength conditioning classes for the older children.

How will my child be supported by the school if they are struggling with their work?

Brighton College: We’re really keen for our pupils to feel supported during this challenging time. They are invited to keep in regular contact with their teachers, and with their peers, to make sure that their questions are answered and their minds are eased. Class groups on social media like LINE are proving an invaluable resource for parents who need help, and we’re definitely confident that our community will work together to minimise the disruption to normal life that our children will be feeling.

Wellington College: The important thing is for students to upload what they were able to complete, wrong answers and all, so teachers can identify the areas they need help.

Getting things wrong is a GOOD thing, because that’s where learning takes place. This is part of why we don’t want parents to help students with their work, because if they submit the correct answers without genuine depth of understanding in the subject matter at hand, then teachers may assume the child is able to handle more advanced tasks, and assign more challenging work accordingly.

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