Quebec schools to continue online education -- but it's not easy for some learners

The extended lockdown for Quebec students means more weeks of distance learning for some, and that can be problematic for many young learners.

The distractions during online learning can be detrimental, said psychotherapist and education consultant Georgia Dow.

“For students, being online, being in front of screens all day is very difficult. If you have a child that is exceptionally diligent, proactive, and organized, then they might not be as bothered by this,” she said. “But for most kids, there are all of these screens and can turn on and off the camera and all of these little pop-ups or they can be playing a game at the same that they are supposed to be listening.”

On Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault announced that while elementary students will return to in-person learning on Jan. 11, high school students will not see the inside of a classroom until a week later. 

Extended time-out of class can affect some students, Dow said. 

“If you learn well on your own then this might be nothing. If you need that one-on-one, hands-on interaction, this becomes a year where you are not going to be absorbing as much information,” she said. “And this technology is new and teachers are going through a learning curve – and the technology doesn't always work as well. That added stress does not help us learn as quickly.” 

Even as the classwork gets done, the socializing isn't the same.

“There's a huge lack of socialization. They're not able to spend the time with friends and feeling more lonely and feeling more isolated,” she said.

Hudson Taylor, a grade 8 student and St. Thomas High School in Pointe-Claire, said it can be harder to concentrate at home.

“My friends and I have a group chat together and they’re always texting and stuff, so I can’t concentrate – but I still learn,” he said.

His brother Devin, a grade 5 student at Dorval Elementary School, is also learning to adjust.

“I really didn't like it at the start. I got more used to it, but it's really annoying not being able to talk to my friends when we’re doing work and stuff. I don't really like it as much as normal school, but it's alright,” he said. 

Their father, Rob Taylor, feels his children are resilient.

“I think it's necessary, so I mean, we don't really have a choice but to adjust. But it's not fun for the lack of social interaction for the kids and everybody else. But I recognize that it's important and we need to do it,” he said.

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