When the global pandemic first hit in March 2020, we were inundated with people wanting to know how to cope with learning at home or what they needed to consider if they were going to start homeschooling their children. They – and we – were in crisis, reactive mode.

Fast forward 9 months and here we are again, facing the same global crisis and with the threat to our schools and our children ever present. Not a huge amount has changed on that front – schools are still scrabbling to make the best of a never-before-experienced situation, parents are still hoping things will start to improve at some point because surely this IS going to improve at some point, right?

Some families have already taken the plunge, fed up with the constant in/out/in/out of school, they’ve opted to home educate full time. Some families are still struggling big time with remote learning.

What is becoming obvious – from the stats – is that this is NOT a temporary blip. The impact of COVID on the education and learning of this generation’s children could be far reaching, well beyond the immediate crisis…

This UN report states that:

  • Learning losses also threaten to extend beyond this generation and erase decades of progress, not least in support of girls and young women’s educational access and retention.
  • Some 23.8 million additional children and youth (from pre-primary to tertiary) may drop out or not have access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact alone.
  • By mid April 2020, 94 per cent of learners worldwide were affected by the pandemic, representing 1.58 billion children and youth, from pre-primary to higher education, in 200 countries.
  • The disruptions caused by COVID-19 to everyday life meant that as many as 40 million children worldwide have missed out on early childhood education in their critical pre-school year.
  • Researchers in Canada estimate that the socio-economic skills gap could increase by more than 30 per cent due to the pandemic.
  • The economic loss might reach $16,000 of lost earnings over a student’s lifetime, translating over time into $10 trillion of lost earnings globally.

We COULD see this solely as the crisis it clearly is. We COULD also see this as an opportunity to ‘do’ education for our children entirely differently. 

The uncertainty of whether school is open or closed…

Not only does this have a practical impact (childcare, the impact on your work etc.), this has an emotional impact on your children; not knowing from one week to the next whether they’ll be in school or at home is tough. And the impact on their education and learning? We don’t yet know the long term impact of such disruption but are you willing to leave this to chance given the likelihood of this continuing for quite some time yet?

Providing some consistency for your children throughout this time can help; this could be in the form of an online course (we have some excellent ones taught by world class teachers!) or other activities that aren’t dependent upon their school.

Making the mindset shift that learning happens everywhere – not just within the 4 walls of a classroom – can also help; this takes the pressure off their entire education being something that happens solely at school and empowers you to create learning experiences everywhere. (Need some help with this? We have workshops, bootcamps and email courses for exactly this!)

The frustrations of remote learning…

Many schools have simply moved their lessons online, requiring kids to sit on Zoom for 6-8 hours a day. As remote workers for almost two decades, the very thought of having to spend 6-8 hours a day on Zoom, 5 days a week is appalling. This is why zoom calls are so exhausting – and we’re asking our kids to do this for an entire school day?!?

From what we’re hearing from parents everywhere, moving classes online is proving a frustrating, disengaging and disempowering experience for students. It does NOT have to be like this!

At Beyond School, we are pioneering a progressive approach to online learning…

One that incorporates ALL the hallmarks of an exceptional online AND learning experience (incorporating asynchronous learning, gamification AND community!). If your remote learning experience has been poor so far, it’s possible to show your kids that learning online CAN be fun, engaging and something they look forward to.

ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION: One of the benefits of remote work is the opportunity to communicate asynchronously; that is, communication doesn’t happen real time in the form of a typical conversation…there are sometimes longer gaps in between one person saying something and the response received (think email, online messaging – it doesn’t always have to happen at the same time and people are free to respond at a time that they choose). This allows greater pause for thought; it allows for more conscious and intentional communication.

This can be a huge benefit when it comes to online learning – the ability to create more time to learn, to reflect, to question in a way that suits the individual child versus a bombardment of lessons and teaching, non stop, for 6 hours a day. It allows and encourages clarity in communication and requires the development of solid written communication skills – not just grammatically, well-spelled and well-punctuated paragraphs but words that effectively communicate what isn’t being communicated verbally.

GAMIFICATION: One important feature that is also being shown to be increasingly important in engaging learners, online and off, is gamification; creating a sense of healthy competition (either with others or with oneself) and adding elements of play into the learning experience. We are building elements of gamification into many of our learning experiences at Beyond School, especially for children.

COMMUNITY: As remote workers ourselves, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of building community; as a leadership team we are spread across the UK and Canada and have wide, diverse, global networks built from years of living and working online as our typical MO. 

When kids learn online, within the same school group, they miss out on a phenomenal opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn with other students, globally (or even in the same town/city/country). At a time when their worlds are more limited and more restricted than ever before, they’re missing out on an amazingly rich and simple way to expand their worlds beyond their local school and classroom.  

At Beyond School, we also have a VERY different approach to measuring progress and success in our learning experiences…

How are you measuring the efficacy of the 6-8 hours your kid spends on Zoom every day? We measure it by the amount of passion for learning our kids come away with, we measure it by the love of learning we’re cultivating in the children we teach, and we measure it by some of the other skills children learn at Beyond School – the skills we know will stand them in good stead for the world of (likely remote) work THEY will also be going into.

At Beyond School, we are no longer in reactive, crisis mode…

We have had 9 months to watch what’s going on, jump in and support people in the trenches, meet families’ needs with strategically-designed bootcamps, workshops, courses and classes AND we too have been learning, at warp speed, as we go.

If Your School Isn’t Getting It Right, There Are Plenty of Options…

As we say frequently, Beyond School is a third path. We do not believe that the choice is ONLY between homeschooling or school. We believe in helping you find an approach to your children’s education that works for you, for your children and for your whole family. So, for you, this might mean:

  • Providing consistency during the in/out of isolating from school by enrolling kids in a world class course for the term. Then, whatever happens with school, there’s learning built into their schedule which is NOT dependent upon attending school and is taught by a world class teacher, online.
  • Beefing up your own skills as a facilitator to your kids with a parenting or education learning experience for YOU!
  • Deciding to better model the things you want your kids to learn – such as you taking control of your own career in the face of uncertainty, deepening your anti-racism journey, learning something new such as Spanish or body percussion rhythm & groove.
  • Taking full control of your children’s education and learning by committing to a different path from the conventional, pulling them out of school and going ‘all in’ with an alternative approach to education.

Whatever path you choose, we can help. And if you’re not sure of the path that’s right for you, we can help with that too!

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