My son is anxious about returning to school. Is online learning an option?

Many teachers found benefits to online learning and will integrate it into their teaching

Some  children have blossomed academically during lockdown in the safety of their own home. Photograph: iStock

Some children have blossomed academically during lockdown in the safety of their own home. Photograph: iStock


My son in first year at secondary school and blossomed academically while being homeschooled. He is a quiet, shy boy and was bullied in primary school. Working online from home really suited him. How can I maintain this positive aspect of his learning once school reopens in April?

As a teacher for over 40 years I was always conscious of the vulnerable children in the class, who often become the target for those susceptible to bullying. Such children often try to make themselves invisible by not fully engaging in class. I can fully understand how such children may have blossomed in the safety of their own kitchen, with mum or dad in the background.

Returning to the classroom is going to be more difficult for children such as your son. Most schools are very aware of the ever present dynamic of potential bullying among students and have developed highly effective methods of pre-emptying it.

Teachers have also over the lockdown periods found some benefits from online teaching and learning, which they will try to integrate into their teaching methodologies when schools return to normal after Easter.

I know that you would like your son, with his teachers’ support, to learn without fear while engaging fully in class, while continuing his positive experience of online learning from home.

There are more and more online options which link in with the school curriculum and allow students to learn at their own pace. Many book publishers have digital learning platforms which complement the printed books .

For example, book publishers’ Folens has a new digital platform, “Homework Space”, which keeps the option open for doing work online and in the classroom, using a blended learning approach.

Each Homework Space subject has been structured to ensure it can be used alongside any textbook, not just Folens specific. It currently caters for science, Irish, maths and French, with other subjects in the pipeline.

The platform acts as a support alongside other classwork and homework with a bank of ready-made assignments linked to topics learned in the classroom.

It won’t replace in-school activities, but rather acts as another outlet where students can log on in the evening time and complete some additional work. Students will still be assigned regular homework by their teachers.

It is currently available for Junior Cycle students so this could be ideal for your son.

Homework Space is just one of a number of new online tools. There are dozens out there – whether provided through book publishers or on virtual learning platforms. Many allow teachers to track individual student progress on different topics within a subject. It highlights where performance is strong, but also when students might need that extra bit of help and what topics they might need to revise with the class.