Make a routine, don’t try to replace school, and don’t panic – your kids aren’t going to fall behind in a fortnight.
Thousands of parents have again been unexpectedly thrown into homeschooling their kids this week, and many will feel like they have to replace their child’s teacher while in lockdown.
But homeschooling expert Adrian Koit said that wasn’t generally necessary.
The director of Auckland Home Educators, and father of four, said home educators didn’t try to replicate school, unless that worked for their child.
“The key thing to do in what I call crisis schooling is to let the kids take a break and not force them to do a formal school day covering all their work.”
Parents feared their kids would fall behind, but Koit felt that was unlikely given New Zealand had had short lockdowns compared to the rest of world.
“Children are quite adaptable so any work they might have missed, they’ll catch up with time.”
Developmental psychology expert Dr Annette Henderson said parents would generally be better equipped this lockdown, having been through level 4 before.
Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Auckland, is part of a team that’s just published research into the impacts of 2020’s level 4 lockdown on couples with young children.
Although there were positives – like going for walks and eating as a family – most found balancing work, schooling and childcare the hardest part of lockdown.
And parents who were under the most stress were more likely to face other difficulties like relationship conflict and finding themselves parenting more harshly – but a strong, supportive relationship with their partner had a “buffering effect”.
Although they didn’t need to immediately adopt a “strict military routine”, having a schedule helped reduce stress by giving everyone a sense of predictability and control.
Although some schools have moved straight to online learning, she was hearing from teachers who weren’t planning to get into lessons until next week, so families could use this week to bond as a family.
Vaughan van Rensburg, principal of Chapel Downs Primary School, said the school was telling parents to enjoy the family time.
The school had plenty of experience with lockdowns and had hard packs and online work online ready to go.
“We’re in the mode of enjoy your family time for the next few days and then we’ll roll into it – we try not to put too much pressure on anyone at this stage.”
Have a routine
That could just mean schoolwork in the morning when they’re fresh, and free time in the afternoon, Henderson said.
Parents might be nervous about young children missing learning opportunities – but it was more important to keep learning fun. “You want kids to be excited about learning, about going back to school.”
Teenagers were developing autonomy and learning to structure their own schedules – parents could help them do that.
“They know how they learn best – they might need a little bit of quiet time in the morning, and then lots of work time and then back to quiet time.”
Koit said most kids could cover most of their school work in 2-3 hours. Some liked routine – they could benefit from waking up at the usual time and taking a walk around the block at the start of the day – while others might benefit from longer sleep-ins or more gaming or video calls.
“Put yourself in their shoes – what would they be feeling, what do you think would make them feel a little bit more at home or more relaxed?”
Parents didn’t need to be by their child’s side every second while they were learning, he said. And after 2-3 hours of engaged time – whether a board game or a crossword or Sudoku – it might be appropriate to have screen time if that was their thing.
Henderson and Koit agreed there were options for learning even if families didn’t have many traditional resources like books.
“If you’re working on math, take a loaf of bread. Divide the loaf in half and then quarters – you can eat it along the way, you can make your mealtimes a learning experience,” Henderson said.
“Reading anything you’ve got – magazines, books – sometimes adults feel like children are getting bored with the same books but repetition never hurts anybody.”
Koit said parents could do craft projects or get the kids to join in their daily activities like cooking.
“Say you want to pay a bill – we want to figure out how to cut down our expenditure; those are things that you can sit down and work through with your kids.
“It might take an entire day because it’s completely new but they’re learning about maths, they’re learning about calculations, they’re learning literacy skills.”
Support each other
Lockdown is tough, with social isolation, income stress and juggling work and family. But if you’re co-parenting, the research found supportive parenting and working together acted as a buffer.
Henderson said that might mean agreeing on the family’s main goals during lockdown, planning a schedule – and then trusting your partner instead of micromanaging or interfering in their parenting.
Clear communication was key in her household. She was fortunate she and her partner could split their working day while parenting 5-year-old Jaxson. “We have that joint camaraderie where wer’re a team working together and this is our child.”
Not everyone had that option – they might be a single parent or have a time-sensitive job.
“If you do need to give your child a device to have some time to work, try not to be too hard on yourself. You’re just doing the best you can.”
Source: Read Full Article