Many Australian parents have unexpectedly found themselves adding teacher and education manager to the multitude of roles they undertake and perform daily for their children. To date, government strategies to slow down and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 have resulted in Australian schools organising online learning for the majority of their students, so they do not need to attend school in person to complete their schooling.
Some schools are assisting parents in managing their child’s schooling at home by providing face to face lessons online, whereas other schools have provided students with workbooks and worksheets to complete each day. Whilst many parents feel reassured that their child is less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 due to the current restrictions, others report also feeling uneasy at the prospect of being responsible for managing their child’s academic learning. Also, many parents who work from home report that they are struggling to find the right balance between managing their child’s schooling, whilst meeting the demands of their job.
There are strategies parents can implement to help them achieve positive outcomes when managing their child’s learning from home, including:
- DEVELOPING A DAILY ROUTINE AND FOLLOWING IT – School and classroom routines assist students to feel secure and settled, because they know what to expect next. Once you and your children have developed and agreed on a home school routine, I suggest creating a large copy of your timetable and displaying it in or close to the space you have designated as the ‘home classroom’, for easy reference.
- CREATING A ‘HOME CLASSROOM’ SPACE – Designating a space in your home and labelling it the home classroom can add a sense of structure and importance to home schooling. Some families set their home classroom up each morning on the dining table, to enable parents working from home to easily supervise their child completing independent learning tasks, whilst they work themselves.
- FOCUSSING ON CORE SUBJECTS FIRST – As most children tire after lunch, they usually study the core subjects of English and Mathematics in the morning at school. This is particularly important for Primary School aged children. I would suggest trying to organise students to complete their English and Mathematics learning tasks early in the day.
- HAVING SHORTER ‘HOME SCHOOL’ DAYS – At school, students can experience quite a lot of downtime throughout the day. Most classes have at least 22 students and 1 teacher, whereas the ‘parent-teacher’ to student ratio will be much smaller at home. Due to the smaller ‘parent-teacher’ to student ratio, students completing their schoolwork at home are usually observed more closely, and have their work rate and level of focus closely monitored too. This can result in them moving through their learning tasks more quickly than they do at school. Also, in a typical school week, students are involved in a range of activities that occur outside their classroom including sporting events, school assemblies, specialist lessons, library visits, incursions, excursions, buddy time, clubs and so on. For these reasons, students completing their schooling at home can usually expect to complete their daily learning tasks in a shorter amount of time than they would at school. Many students complete their daily learning tasks by lunchtime.
- HAVING REGULAR BRAIN BREAKS – It is important and beneficial for your child’s learning to ensure that they have regular, short brain breaks throughout the home school day. If your child is feeling restless, or having difficulty focussing, a quick run around the backyard or completing 15 star jumps can help them to settle back to their learning tasks.
- KEEPING A WATER BOTTLE HANDY – I suggest making sure your child has their water bottle full and handy whilst they are completing their learning tasks throughout the day. Doing so eliminates the need for your child to leave the designated home classroom space to get themselves a glass of water. Every time your child leaves the home classroom space it disrupts their learning focus, and if you have other children working in the same space, it can disrupt their learning focus too. Students will need to leave the home classroom space for a variety of reasons, however providing them with a full water bottle will ensure they do not need to leave as often.
- ENSURING YOUR CHILD HAS HEALTHY SNACKS – Research has revealed that eating a healthy and nutritious diet can enhance cognitive skills, concentration and memory, and improve academic performance. Ensuring that your child has access to healthy snacks throughout the home school day, can significantly influence their ability to focus and learn.
- CREATING AND NURTURING A POSITIVE ATMOSPHERE – In this uncertain time, many students (and adults) are feeling stressed and unsure about the changes they are witnessing. Even so, it is vitally important for parents to strive to develop and maintain a calm and positive learning environment for their child at home. Whilst this may be much easier said than done, if a student is feeling stressed, it is virtually impossible for them to fully focus on their learning tasks.
Parents who are managing their children’s academic learning at home are sure to have good days, and days that involve a lot of deep breathing and counting to 10, or maybe even to 100. On those days it might be best give your children a break from their homeschool routine.
There are so many activities you can do at home with your children that are not only fun, but provide rich, authentic opportunities for them to learn. For example, your children could write a play to perform for your family. Younger children could make posters to advertise the play and make tickets for you to ‘purchase’ to watch their play. By participating in this activity your children are developing their skills in writing, spelling, reading, mathematics, creative thinking and critical thinking. Also, as a highlight your children’s play could be filmed and sent to family and friends.
Asking your children to create a treasure hunt for you is another enjoyable activity that involves rich opportunities for learning. Creating cryptic clues and hiding them strategically around the home involves the skills of planning, creative thinking, critical thinking, writing, reading, spelling, mapping and mathematics. Plus the children will want you to ‘disappear’ while they create their treasure hunt which will give you an opportunity to take a break. Also cooking, playing board games, completing jigsaw puzzles, gardening or playing hopscotch are some other enjoyable ‘unstructured’ activities that provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills and understandings in science, maths and english.
At Optimise Learning we are striving even harder to support students and parents at this particularly challenging time. If you are looking for online classes for your child, or support with schooling your child at home, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help you!