Part 2: Digitizing Education: Parents as Teachers

Emergency remote education during COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequities and revealed gaps in pedagogical knowledge and infrastructure to support the use of technology for instruction. During this webinar, we will hear about the challenges that are facing parents and learn about coping strategies and the resources available for parents. 

August 24, 2020

Emergency remote education during COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequities and revealed gaps in pedagogical knowledge and infrastructure to support the use of technology for instruction. In addition to the usual obligations of raising families at home, parents have been faced with the daunting task of having to teach or supervise their children through digital learning platforms. During this webinar, we will hear about the challenges that are facing parents and learn about coping strategies and the resources available for parents. 

Program Moderator:

Dahlia Hamza Constantine – Doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University



Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University

Mary Muriuki – Founder and Director of Elimu Nyumbani; East Africa Regional Representative of CambriLearn; Founding Member of EACH (East Africa Christian Home Educators)

Esther Gacicio – Edtech Consultant & Co-Founder of eLearning Solutions (eLS)

Eskimo Kobia Kirumbi – Official at the Kenya Parents Association – Nakuru County


Webinar Highlights:

Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – So in the beginning of March, we’re wondering and now we’re moving into fall: what is our role, what support does my child need as I take on this new role, and what does it mean for them to be a learner at home during this time. All of these questions are deeply personal. There isn’t one right answer. So I think taking some time to reflect on these questions, have conversations in your family and most importantly in your community and with your school leaders is a really important first step. (Time frame from minute 06:28-07:00)

Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – I also think that this presents some opportunities for us to redefine learning. Particularly, as we think about who our children are when they’re at home. So how can we use this as an opportunity to think more deeply about how are our students, what questions they have about the world, how creative they are, is there a way that we could take those questions and have them engage in thinking about creating artifacts and making media to share when they’re learning, and how can we think about the role of self-directed learning. A lot of children right now have a lot of freedom to do that kind of work. So maybe this is a way forward as we return back together after we have a vaccine or some therapeutics that will allow us to be together again in school buildings. But I think it’s a really important moment for us to think about what’s possible if we are at home and we have a little bit more say in what our children are doing, and also the importance of choice: how our children are thinking about engaging in the learning that they’re being asked to do, how they’re representing what they’re learning, how they’re sharing it, who they’re sharing it with and why they’re sharing it. All of those things put the student a little bit more in charge of what’s important to them and allow them to show a little bit more of what they know. (Time frame from minute 08:28-09:37)

Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – I think it’s important just to take stock, but most importantly, once you know what you have and what you don’t have, communicate with your school about how they can support getting some of the things that you need. (Time frame from minute 10:52-11:02)

Dr. Detra Price-Dennis – So some tips that I have around managing this type of work from home given that everyone’s situation is different and we don’t know what the workload is going to be, what expectations are going to be, until we can have all that information and really think through that with our kids is really thinking about time management and organization, particularly thinking about what is your daily schedule, is your child someone like me that needs a timer. (Time frame from minute 12:10-12:35)

Eskimo Kobia Kirumbi – So when you see a parent being a teacher, it becomes a challenge because even when that child makes a mistake in the house, sometimes it become a difficulty. You see the two parents, someone getting to the other one, telling can you punish that child. Another one is saying no. (Time frame from minute 20:46-21:02)

Eskimo Kobia Kirumbi – We have informal settings and we have rural settings. You tell that parents I want you to teach you child. Even himself or ourselves has never seen that form of the smartphone we’re talking about. Then internet coverage in Kenya: not all the areas have the internet. So it looks a bit of difficulty for most of their parents like in two kind of areas or a way I’m going to the lectures like you meet the parents they don’t. They have never received electricity. And now, we want our child to be the same the one who is in Nairobi. (Time frame from minute 21:47-22:26)

Eskimo Kobia Kirumbi – As parents, we are supposed to look into issues of our children, which we ourselves cannot be able to address. So we need a lot of education, we need to do a lot of homework when it comes to parents as a teacher. (Time frame from minute 28:07-28:22)

Dahlia Hamza Constantine – We really see that kids with disabilities who receive special services at school, how they’re impacted, and the fact that parents aren’t always taught what to do in the situations, you know, in the context ‘I am here.’ (Time frame from minute 29:22-29:35)

Mary Muriuki – The main thing that I’ve been having to share with parents is a paradigm shift in thinking on what is education because parents are trying to duplicate what’s been going on in school at home and it’s just not working. So I keep telling them that it’s not going to be able to work. It’s only going to work if change your mindset on what is education. (Time frame from minute 33:10-33:32)

Mary Muriuki – Education is a lot more than what is usually in a school setting. It involved the whole child. Yes, we have the mind, the academic part, which is mental, but we also have the physical part, we have the emotional, we have the social, and we have the spiritual. So I’ve talking to most parents about you may not be able to do the academic part, but you can certainly do all the other parts, which is part of education. (Time frame from minute 33:35-34:03)

Mary Muriuki – The rest of the time, spend time teaching your child about the world around them, life skills, involving them in your work. So if you have a shop, for example (many people in Kenya have shops) take your child to the shop and let them help you with the stock taking, with giving change to the client, customer service, getting supplies. Your child is learning a whole lot of different just being in that shop and seeing how economics works. (Time frame from minute 38:07-38:37)

Mary Muriuki – We’ve been having many parents transition from what the school is offering as an online solution to our more self-directed online solution because they’re realizing the flexibility. They realize that if they can do it without having to know the content, a parent can guide their child on an online program and also make a schedule that’s flexible for you. (Time frame from minute 43:46-44:09)

Esther Gacicio – First and foremost, as a parent, we need to know and appreciate the fact that we are not professionals. We are not teachers. We are not trained. We don’t have the certificate. But we still have our role to play as the teacher, the first teacher before you take your children to the school. The first teacher is a parent. (Time frame from minute 1:11:22-1:11:43)

Esther Gacicio – Secondly, as parents, we are supposed to be empathetic with our children. We should get rid of their anxious helpfulness in the healthiness we have and that’s what I was talking about. We baby our children too much. We try to assist them. They’re given homework and you do the homework for them. So, as parents, let’s go back there and let the kids do it by themselves. (Time frame from minute 1:11:53-1:12:15)

Esther Gacicio – Recently, we created a program called ‘My Story Through the Lens.’ This ‘Story Through the Lens’ was to help the kids come up with meaningful activities during these pandemic times and what that meant is that as they went through what they were going through, they learned to document. We trained them on some skills on taking good photographs using whatever devices that they have (Time frame from minute 1:16:12-1:16:36)