Coronavirus has changed everything. As we embark on a home learning education journey, there are some questions you may have. We thought it might be useful to come up with a few tips to help you get started to help your child learn from home.
1. Set up a learning space
Create an area in the house for your child to be able to focus on learning. Ideally, this should be a quiet, family space. Try to distinguish between the ‘school space’ and the rest of your home so the child can ‘hang up’ their school bag and relax at the end of their day. We recognise that if you have multiple children at home, this may be tricky.
Ensure you are signed up for SeeSaw or Microsoft Teams (depending on the year group) to access the work the teacher is sending. If you do not have access to a printer, ready-to-go printed student packs are also available from the school should this be a more viable option for your family.
3. Create a structure
Establish routines and high expectations with your children. It’s important to create a structure so that children don’t see this time as an extended holiday. Scheduling schoolwork early in the morning while they are most alert will be helpful.
Setting alarms similar to those they would encounter at school can be helpful for keeping them on a schedule.
Around lunch time, get some fresh air and go for a walk or bike ride.
Keep normal bedtime routines.
4. Be flexible
Each student is different and will complete tasks and grasp concepts at different rates. Be flexible on how your child is progressing. You may need to take your child back a step to reinforce a concept before they are ready to move onto a new one.
We all need to process new learning so allow children time to relax between learning periods. There are no hard and fast rules over how many breaks they should have or how long these should be.
5. Check in regularly
Keep checking in with your children as to how they are progressing, offering help as they feel they need it. This will help them manage and pace their work. Take an active role in helping your children process their own learning. Schools are social places where learning is discussed and debriefed often. This often clarifies thinking.
6. Be available to help
If your child is finding a particular task difficult, be available to make suggestions and answer questions, but try to let them do things themselves as much as possible. If you don’t know the answer, work with your child to discover a solution.
7. Get moving
Movement and exercise are important to health, wellbeing and impacts learning. Teachers will recommend different activities and exercises to encourage movement. Your children can pitch in around the house and help with chores. Don’t let your children off the hook – expect them to be productive with their time.
8. Well-being monitoring
Help your child manage the anxiety and range of emotions they may be experiencing. They will be out of sorts, whether they admit it or not, and will need all the attention and support that parents can provide.
9. Limiting screen time
Monitor how much time your child is spending online. Try to spread online work out with regular breaks and screen time limited to the recommended 2 hours a day.
It would also be wise to monitor older students on Microsoft Teams and keep track of how they are managing their time and messaging their friends while they work, to reduce distractions to themselves and others.
10. Keep in touch with other parents
Social distancing is important during this time but so is staying in touch with others via virtual communication. Each parent that has a child at home is going to be going through a new experience. Check in with other parents to see what they’ve found effective, and how they’re doing.
11. Schedule time for fun
While this is most certainly not a vacation, it’s important to have some fun with your children while they are at home. It’s rare to this much time with your children outside of school holidays, so use it as an opportunity to deepen your bond. Organise a tournament, family board games, build puzzles together or get outside for a hike or walk together.
12. If all else fails, remember …
adaptation will take time. Go easy on yourself. As we settle into this new rhythm of remote work and isolation, we need to be realistic in the goals we set, both for ourselves and others in our homes.
The Department of Education Learning at Home website provides advice and resources for parents and carers, educators and students. This includes a wide range of resources and information related to the impact of COVID-19 on students’ health and wellbeing and the impact on families.