As families and teachers settle into continuous home learning in Term 2, we speak to local teacher Michelle Reynolds about tips to help families adjust.
These are such crazy times. For most of us, we’re having to postpone regularly-scheduled life until further notice. It also means that many parents will be responsible for overseeing their child’s continuous learning for the foreseeable future.
If you’ve ever tried to help your child with their reading, spelling or perhaps a project and it was hard work, you may be legitimately terrified by the idea of days on end of continuous learning from home. But here’s the deal—you can do it. You really can! And maybe, just maybe, you will enjoy some of it, too.
Here are a few quick tips we think might help families make the most of their at-home learning experiences.
1. FOLLOW THE TIMETABLE…WHERE YOU CAN
Your school will have likely provided a timetable for families, but it is the DREAM. Even if all you do is set aside a few hours a day within which schoolwork needs to be completed, it gives your child the context for the rhythm of the day and also gives them a finish line to work toward.
2. SET UP YOUR CLASSROOM
You don’t need a new desk or to buy a whiteboard, but designating a chair in the dining room, or a special table and space in the family-room for all schoolwork will give everyone accountability and structure. Before the day begins, set up and stock the designated learning spot with the essentials— pencils, chromebook, iPad (if applicable), exercise books, iPad charger, paper and a drink bottle. The fewer excuses they have to get up to “look for their special eraser”, the less distracted they might be.
3. USE YOUR CHILD’S CURRENCY
Motivation is key. At school, the risks and rewards of whether or not your child completes work are made clear from day one. The same should be true for your new at-home routine. Keep it positive first (resort to bribery later if necessary). Can they earn extra screen time? Can they earn mum and dad time? Can they earn a FaceTime chat with one of their friends? Find out what makes your child tick and leverage it to keep them on-task.
4. CONSIDER HOW YOUR CHILD LEARNS BEST
You may be a naturally quiet person who learns best by themselves, yet your child is an outgoing extrovert who learns best in groups—if you try to teach them the way you learn best, you’re both going to end up feeling frustrated. Keep in mind that every child does learn differently, and your first approach may not be your last. If you find yourself having trouble engaging your child, try different methods of helping them connect with the curriculum we are offering. For example, maybe try reading aloud as they follow along versus having them read lengthy texts on their own that are a bit tricky. Can you plan a study buddy with a friend online?
5. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE BAD DAYS
If your child has not settled into their learning and it all gets too hard or the day is not working out the way you hoped, try something new. Be open with your child what the challenges are and let them chime in on what they want the day to look like. Be on the same page about the overall end-goal (like getting some learning into the day), but be open to changing your approach in how you get there. Remember, we have provided activities for your child’s learning and suggested some optional online resources for you to try out as well, BUT everything is OPTIONAL.
6. BE THERE FOR YOUR KIDS
What your child really needs most right now is you. Your presence. Your steadiness. And your love. Oh, and one “Continuous Home Learning” silver-lining? You get to stay in your pajamas all day if you want and we will all be jealous. Some parents want their children up early, dressed ready for school and they follow the timetable to the minute. Do what works for you and for your family. This is not a competition – it is survival.
7. IF YOU CAN, HAVE FUN
Build a fort. Have an indoor picnic. Take a walk. Make a cake. Create playlists. Have a dance party in the kitchen. Go camping in the backyard. Try to find a rhythm or a time when you can get the most work done and maximise this.
SOME FINAL TIPS FOR HOME LEARNING:
- establish some routines and expectations – respect, engagement and personal best.
- designate and set up a space for your child to work at every day.
- monitor communications from teachers.
- begin and end each day with a check-in.
- take an active role in helping your children process their learning. Find out how you can be more involved in your child’s education.
- encourage physical activity and/or exercise– all children need movement breaks. Here‘s 10 tips on how to keep your kids active during isolation.
- check in with your child regularly to help them manage any stress or anxiety – these are not normal times and the new normal will take a bit of getting used to.
Find out more about caring for your mental health during a crisis.
- monitor how much time your child spends online playing and web surfing.
- set rules around their social media interactions – staying in touch with friends will be really important, but it needs to be at the appropriate time and in monitored ways.
“We really understand that these are uncertain times — even more uncertain than “normal”. So, do what you can, when you can, and how you can. We will be here if you need us.”
Michelle Reynolds is the Deputy Principal at MacKillop Catholic College, Mount Peter