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Guide to Home-Schooling

Post date: 
13 August 2020
Learning & Development

Many parents across the globe are facing the challenge of having to home-school their children during the COVID-19 pandemic while balancing work and other parenting responsibilities. Below is a guide to help you navigate this period and some strategies you can use to help balance the roles you have to play – teacher, parent, and employee.

Keep as much of the ‘normal routine’ as possible

  • Continue to wake up at the same time you would normally on a work or school day and stick to your usual morning routine. For example, take your dog for a walk or eat breakfast together.
  • Pack the children’s lunch and snacks at the beginning of the day helping to manage food expectations and maintain the ‘normal routine’.
  • Many schools have created online learning schedules – this is an excellent base for your household schedule but be sure to modify to suit the needs and requirements of your household. And where possible, provide your children with choice and flexibility. For example, for older children, you may set them the challenge to complete their weekly learning activities by Thursday so that they have Friday as a day off (this, of course, depends on their school’s online learning schedule). This provides them with an incentive to complete their schoolwork and the flexibility for more free time.
  • Manage your work schedule and expectations. You may need to leave the complex work until you have some uninterrupted time or when your children go to bed.

Find ways for your children to connect with their friends and classmates

A large part of school is the social aspect. While children are remote learning, they are missing the usual ability to interact with their friends and peers. It is critical to make time for children to stay connected with their friends.

  • Create or join a WhatsApp/WeChat/Zoom/FaceTime with a group of friends and schedule a weekly catch-up.
  • Arrange virtual ‘play dates’ for younger children.
  • Make a list of your children’s close friend’s birthdays and send a card via post.

Share the load              

If there are two parents or caregivers working from home, split the time between both of you, so you each have an opportunity to work uninterrupted. For example, you could break the day into two-hour blocks and take turns working and home-schooling.

Follow the school’s online program, but be realistic

Some children will have activities set by their school to complete. Have open communication with your child’s school and teacher’s about what outcomes are realistic for your child given your family circumstances. When children are in the classroom, it is (mostly) a level playing field. However, children trying to complete learning activities at home with other siblings around, working parents and other distractions change their level of engagement, motivation, and focus.

Set up independent learning activities (i.e. activities children can do without a parent)

Set up age-appropriate activities for your child to easily access. These activities require little to no input from you, therefore, creating time for them to be busy so you can work undisturbed.

  • Lego – an excellent resource which many families have access to. Set the challenge for your child to create something specific, for example, a boat, a building, or a bridge. Lego is a great maths resources for basic fractions, measurements and so on.
  • Puzzles – a good option to keep children focused for a period of time.
  • Online story-time – there are countless people reading children books online every day. For example, author Oliver Jeffers has a video series on his Instagram account, where he reads his picture books.
  • Virtual excursions - embrace some of the online excursions currently available. Various zoos are streaming live videos, and virtual tours are available for places around the world, for example, museum tours and the Louvre in Paris! Hand over a device and get your children exploring the world virtually, buying you some time to get some work done.
  • Where in the world…? Take out a map of the world and ask your child to select any place on the map. Then assign them the task to research that place. Ask them to find out about the population size, geographic information, local customs and traditions, and so on.
  • Other activities include colouring books, find-a-word, Sudoku, and reading.

Learn together through games

Board games and cards are a great way to get all members of the household involved. They are also a great way to teach children focus, strategy, how to follow a set of rules or process, and basic arithmetic. Games are educational, interactive and fun, and also are a great way to de-stress as a family.

Education is everywhere

Spend time making, creating, exploring and experimenting together. And look for those ‘teachable’ moments. Example activities include

  • Gardening – is an excellent way to get children outside and has countless educational benefits. Such as, making connections with our external environment, understanding farm-to-plate, and give a real hands-on experience.
  • Cooking – this is a great way for children to learn to follow sequential steps and enhance knowledge of basic maths functions, such as measurement and time. And there is no need to go above and beyond your usual cooking activities. When it is time to prepare dinner – get the kids involved!
  • Film review - Watch a film and discuss the plot, the characters, and themes.
  • Origami – the Japanese art of folding paper. A wonderful activity to encourage children to slow down and focus. Also, a great way to explore shapes, angles and artistic interpretation.
  • Playdough – a favourite with young children. There is no need to purchase readymade Play Doh as it is simple to make at home (can be a good cooking exercise). There are many recipes available online. Also experiment with kitchen utensils, such as potato masher, garlic crusher and cookie cutters.  
  • Salt dough (which can be baked and painted) is an alternative for older children.

Make time for personal and family wellbeing

We are all experiencing a situation that is challenging and stressful. It is important to make time for wellbeing.

  • Schedule in time for physical activity – for example, go for a walk or bike ride together as a family.
  • Plan ‘downtime’ during the week – for example, family game night or watch a movie together.
  • Remember to take some time out for yourself - for example, go for a walk, do an online exercise class, or chat with friends or family.
  • Be kind to yourself; this isn’t easy. Do your best and make sure you let your line manager know if you are struggling with managing the demands of both home-schooling and work.

In summary,

  • Keep as much of the ‘normal routine’ as possible.
  • Find ways for your children to connect with their friends and classmates.
  • Share the load with other parents/caregivers in your household.
  • Follow the school’s online program but be realistic with what works for your family.
  • Set up independent learning activities - those activities children can do without a parent.
  • Remember, education is everywhere.
  • Make time for personal and family wellbeing.

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