Middle-class kids most switched on

While many students have struggled to adjust to online learning and some schools have yet to perfect remote teaching arrangements, a recent survey has found that students from middle-class families are able adapt to the new norm quickly.

Conducted by the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education, the survey on the impact of the epidemic on gifted students and their families shows 56.6 percent of respondents’ children adapted to online learning in less than a week, while 31.5 percent of them needed less than a month.

The survey was conducted between the end of June and mid-July, receiving 362 responses.

Although the response rate of nearly 9 percent was not high, Eric Fung, head of the academy’s research division, said the respondents’ portraits produced by the questionnaire matched those of middle-class families, so the results were typical.

The result showed 20 percent of the parents surveyed could afford to send children to schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme, which requires a higher tuition fee, and nearly 60 percent of parents hold a bachelor’s degree or above.

“The survey results confirm our belief that families of gifted students have sufficient capacity and resources to help their children learn at home,” said Fung.

Ng Ka-yiu, a secondary one student who studies science subjects at the academy, is one of the successful cases who has adapted to online learning over a short period.

In the early stage of online learning, Ng encountered numerous technical and time-management problems, which were later solved with his parents’ help. Since then, studying at home has been easier for him.

He started to identify a need to fill up his bonus time at home by extending his school courses to personal interests. He decided to set up a YouTube channel to share knowledge from his favorite science subjects.

As they began to appreciate spending more time together during the epidemic, Ng’s mother said the whole family mobilized to support Ng’s channel: mom takes care of the filming, dad buys the materials for the experiments and his sister promotes the videos online.

“I’m so happy that he finds me every day to discuss the film subject,” she said.

The survey showed more than 42 percent said that their parent-child relationship had become more harmonious.”Parents indicated that the increased communication time helped to enhance mutual understanding and promote their relationship,” Fung said.

However, results also showed that about 19 percent of parents said their relationship with their children deteriorated. The major reason was that their children were addicted to video games, followed by poor attitudes toward studying.

Issac Gai, a secondary four student, is the opposite, one of the 12 percent of respondents taking more than a month to get used to learning remotely at home.

Gai, who loves sport and mathematics, said he was not motivated to study because of the one-way online teaching mode.

He was also easily distracted and lacked self-discipline, resulting in him missing homework deadlines, being late for classes, and becoming addicted to playing video games.

Gai described the days of school closure as “decadent and depressing.”

Fung said that gifted students usually find it easier to dive into a particular field. The good side is, for example, they like mathematics and continue to study it, so they show aptitude and success. Yet, the bad side is that if the online course is too easy for them or they are not interested, they will give up easily.

He recommended that parents help their children make schedules while studying at home, allowing them to learn to manage themselves.

(This article was published at The Standard on August 18, 2020: Education: Middle-class kids most switched on )

200818 Middle-class kids most switched on

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