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Published April 25th 2020
Ten tips to help parents/carers with homeschooling this term
We are living in extraordinary times.
On Tuesday, April 28, thousands of school students across Canberra will begin Term 2 of the 2020 school year. But 2020 is no ordinary school year. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Term 2 will be done at home via remote learning.
Remote learning essentially means that parents/carers will be the ones homeschooling their children this term. We already had a taste of homeschooling in late Term 1 when schools across Canberra were shut down for the last two weeks of the term. And now we are facing a whole ten weeks (unless the ACT Education minister tells us otherwise) of our children learning from home.
Many parents/carers are not exactly looking forward to this term, especially if they are also juggling with working from home and caring for younger, non-school age children too. What then can we do to cope during this extraordinary time?
Here are ten tips for managing remote learning in your home this term.
1. Make sure you have your resources ready. This means all the equipment your children needs for home school, such as the learning packs they received from their schools at the end of Term 1 as well as their pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, glue sticks, paper, notebooks, calculators, etc. If you haven't yet received a home school learning pack, make sure you contact your children's school and organise to get it as soon as possible.
2. Prepare your learning spaces. This could be your children's desks, or a part of the dining table, or another table you've set up in your lounge room. It's important for your children to have their own dedicated learning space in your home as it helps them and you too focus. Make sure that their learning spaces have all their home learning resources within easy reach too.
3. Make sure you can access your child's online classroom. Most schools will be using the Google Classroom app this term for remote learning so be sure to log in to your children's accounts and have their log in details and passwords handy. If you are having trouble with accessing Google Classroom, please contact your children's school.
4. Use your children's classroom timetables to guide you in their learning. Your children's classroom teachers will have prepared timetables for them which set out very clearly the activities they are expected to complete as well as specific times for class video conferences and zoom sessions and other activities you could do at home. These timetables will be a great guide to help you with remote learning this term.
5. Always communicate with your children's teachers and schools. Your children's teachers and schools will be available to help you with remote learning, so please get in touch with them if you need help with anything, whether it's trying to log in to Google Classroom or you're not sure about the tasks set for them or if you feel they are falling behind, or if you feel that you aren't coping with homeschooling and working from home, etc. Also, make sure that you are getting all the necessary communication from your children's school, such as school newsletters and updates.
6. Make sure you have breaks. This is so important. Schedule regular breaks for your children between their learning tasks. And be sure to include food breaks as well! I don't know about you, but my son seems to eat more at home school than he does when he is at his actual school!
7. Get the kids moving. Also, a very important thing to do. In the morning before we start home school, my son and I head out for a bike ride or we go for a walk or jump madly on the trampoline. Get the kids bodies moving, soak up the wonderful autumn sunshine, and then they will be ready to learn!
8. Enjoy downtime as well. Both you and the kids need this, especially if you're also working from home and/or you've got a toddler or a baby as well. Take a break from home school and let your school-age kids watch a DVD, play in the backyard, play with their toys, read their favourite book or play a computer game. My son loves playing in his sandpit and dirt patch in the backyard when we have downtime from homeschooling.
9. You can only do your best so be patient and be kind to yourself. Remote learning is new to all of us, including our teachers and schools. So please be patient if computer systems stuff up or if your children lose it in the afternoon or if you don't finish a piece of classwork. You could always finish it another time when your child is ready to finish it. Above all, be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can. And you can only do the best you can. You are not expected to be exactly like your children's classroom teachers.
And so we enter a new term and a brave new world of school education. Term 2 will be very different from anything we've ever done before. But let us all remember that we are all in this together, Canberra.