All of us, in every corner of society, are affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Society is mobilising like never before to bring the virus under control and we are all having to adapt our ways of living to protect our loved ones. Parents and carers are being called on to play their role at home as schools close and “social distancing” measures are brought into place…as if parenthood wasn’t hard enough already.
Parents, of course, are not just parents. They are also partners and spouses, sons and daughters and carers to the most vulnerable in our society and, in many cases, part or full time workers. As parents ourselves we know that juggling the demands of work and family is tough at the best of times, let alone when you have children under your full-time supervision and limited options to socialize.
On top of all that, it now seems parents are also expected to become drivers of home learning. Fortunately, there’s an incredible amount of support and resources available out there to ensure your children continue to learn and develop in the coming period.
Homeschooling will have its good days and bad days (and let’s face it, probably more bad days early on). That’s perfectly okay – this is a marathon not a sprint, and it is important to pace things to suit your needs.
We’ll be sharing lots of ideas and resources in the coming weeks to support you with your transition to home learning. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Hold a family meeting
We will all need to embrace a spirit of teamwork and collaboration to pull through the next few months. As a family, you can set the right precedent by talking through what is happening with your children, and share any concerns you each have. Emphasize the importance of routines like hand-washing, and explain terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’. Try to assure your children that, although they should take all precautionary measures, they are themselves the least at risk.
Create a productive learning environment
This will depend a lot on your home but if possible, set up a dedicated working space (however small) and gather all materials (paper, stationery etc). It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway: no TV or smartphones, unless it directly relates to learning!
Follow your school’s advice
Many schools are developing remote learning programs and you should be in communication with them to understand what is expected of you at home. Ask teachers for recommended activities because they are sure to have plenty.
Create a daily schedule…and update it
Discuss the importance of learning as a year-round activity and talk about the kinds of learning habits you want to instil. Then create a schedule together that you are all happy to sign off on as a way of building those habits. You may want to come up with some ground rules such as snack times and screen-time limits. Be prepared to fail a few times and update your plan as you all get used to your new routines.
Create a reward system
To keep your children motivated, set targets and agree on a reward system that recognizes their hard work. When goals are not met, take the opportunity to discuss any barriers that are preventing your child from producing their best work.
Use an online tutor
Programs like Math-Whizz are an excellent way of ensuring your child keeps up with their learning throughout the year. By scheduling in Math-Whizz for an hour a week your child can expect to enjoy accelerated learning – read our parent guide for implementing Math-Whizz at home. You can also get free learning resources in our parent resource hub.
As a parent give yourself grace. This is an uncertain time for everyone and it’s okay to be apprehensive. None of us are going to nail this the first time. Connect with other parents through online groups to hear what they are going through, and to share advice. We are all in this together and we will pull through.
Look out for further posts, where we will dive into a variety of home learning strategies. Be sure to sign up to our parent newsletter, which will contain lots of useful information and resources.