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Raising independent learners

/ 05:20 AM November 19, 2020

When classes closed last March due to the pandemic, I thought I would finally have free time. But with classes shifting online, requests for help became incessant.

Students were lost and anxious. How can they truly learn, without sacrificing mental health?

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Parents, unprepared for the task, were confused about what was expected of them. How do they guide kids effectively? How do they instill the value of discipline and motivation?

Teachers worried about sacrificing curricula, and wondered how they could impart knowledge and skills without meeting students face to face.

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Family businesses demanded online chats as well—on best practices, conflict resolution and communication tips. They also wanted reassurance and straight talk on strategies to live with courage and grace in the face of an unseen scourge.

Local and regional corporations and civic groups followed suit, and I talked with their employees and clients on online learning, mental health and resilience.

After I did a Zoom webinar on online learning for National Book Store-Anvil Publishing in July (late registrants were turned away because the room was full), Xandra Ramos, granddaughter of Socorro, suggested coming up with a book on online learning.

From on-the-ground discussions with more than 60 schools, parent groups, student groups, teachers, plus live and nonlive classes with college and graduate students, I realized the biggest problems in online learning stemmed from unresolved issues prepandemic.

The pandemic just highlighted inadequacies in our education structures, but the hardest issues to address cannot be blamed on COVID-19.

Simply put, many young people find it difficult to learn independently, even prepandemic. Insufficient student motivation, children’s and teenagers’ lack of focus in and out of class, parent-child conflict on discipline and communication are the major issues, which I already discussed in previous books: “Helping Our Children Do Well in School,” “Learning,” “Home Work,” “Study Smart,” “Start the School Year Right,” “Growing Up Wired” and “Lifeline.”

But practical strategies for learning are needed now, more than ever, so Anvil editor Arianne Velasquez listened in on my webinars, went through my previous research, and collated the most useful tips to address the underlying need today: independent learning, both online and offline.

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I updated these writings and selected relevant columns and webinar transcripts for everyone striving to adapt to online distance learning.

Since students often prefer to listen to their peers, Arianne also included pieces from my son Scott, who talked about maximizing online resources, handling math and reading, forming homework habits, and communicating with parents and peers.

Indulge a proud mother: Scott graduated last May from Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) College, majoring in economics and minoring in mathematical, computational and statistical sciences, summa cum laude, with an award for best capstone in the discipline. He was also the commencement speaker, and even if my husband and I could not physically go to Singapore for this once-in-a-lifetime event, we were glad several friends and loved ones tuned in to their online graduation.

The book “Raising independent Learners: A Guide to Online and Offline Learning” will be launched on Nov. 21, this Saturday afternoon on Anvil’s Facebook page. No registration needed. Join us!

Thank you to readers and audiences whose queries form the foundation of the book. I cannot answer all your questions, but I read or listen to each one. Pleas for help continue to pour into my inbox, and I hope this book can inspire us to continue learning, in whatever way we can, in these turbulent times.

Get “Raising Independent Learners” at www.anvilpublishing.com. Go to www.facebook.com/AnvilPublishingInc for the launch on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 pm.

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Contact the author at [email protected]

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