Tips For Schooling Your Child During Lock Down

Lockdown has brought about a great deal of uncertainty. Physically there is uncertainty with fears regarding our own and our family’s health. Financial uncertainty is a worry for many during these times. Academically, there is uncertainty regarding the academic year, and how to assist your children.

Many parents are working remotely or are returning to work but are not able to take their children to school or have help around the home. This puts the parents in a difficult position before we even begin to consider the possibility of keeping your child up to date academically. It is normal to be feeling overwhelmed in these uncertain times.

Sometimes making small, practical changes can have a large influence and reduce the load for all. Here are some possible ideas to assist you as parents when supporting your children through these uncertain times:

  • Make use of this time to teach your children life skills that are not necessarily taught in the classroom.

Teach your child about household chores, cooking, mowing the lawn, paying the bills, and social and moral skills when interacting with one another. Encourage daily time to read.  Play board games as a family or encourage the children to play together. Engage in exercise where possible (skipping, stretching, yoga, follow a YouTube exercise class or jumping on the trampoline). Ensure that each child is involved with helping around the house, no matter their age. There are wonderful charts online regarding age appropriate chores. All these activities develop good life habits, foster a sense of responsibility and encourage a positive use of the time in lock down.

  • Establish and maintain a normal routine, as best as possible.

Ensure that although your child may not be attending formal schooling within a classroom, that they still follow a routine of an appropriate bedtime and a time to wake up in the morning. If your child is getting adequate sleep they are able to concentrate better, and it assists with getting out of the “holiday mode” and into a routine of schoolwork.

  • Set up an effective workspace.

Sit down at your child’s workspace and ensure that there is adequate lighting, ventilation and the temperature of the room is moderate. Make sure that the desk and chair are comfortable and at the correct height for your child. The desk needs to be placed in a quieter area, and not positioned near doors, windows or the tv.

Get a file with dividers for each subject area to encourage organisation of all the work completed at home. Teach your child to file each completed activity in order, within the correct section of the file. Set up stationery that is used only for schoolwork/homework that remains on the desk. Ensure that this stationery is never moved, to eliminate time being wasted searching for certain items or needing to get up to sharpen the pencil. Children are going to take chances to avoid doing work they don’t enjoy or do not feel they are good at. Working from home, out of routine, can make this even more difficult.  Being organised and prepared can alleviate a great deal of stress for all.

  • Organise a daily schedule.

Children do better when given structure and routine. Create a visual and colourful schedule and place it where your child can see it. We cannot expect children to complete the tasks if we are not guiding them. If the task is not written down and explicitly stated, chances are they won’t do it. Remember that organisation, time management and self-discipline are skills that need to be taught, and it is normal for children to have difficulty with these areas.

Create a schedule for yourself that fits into your child’s timetable, thus ensuring that you are present for the  areas where they need individual assistance, and that you are able to complete your own tasks (work or around the home) when they are taking breaks or engaging in less demanding content areas (i.e. colouring in, artwork, engaging in individual reading, etc). Ensure that when your child is completing formal learning tasks that are more demanding, stay nearby. If you are busy with other tasks during this time, you may not realise that they are struggling. Also keep in mind that if you are not providing individual attention with these more challenging content areas it can lead your child to becoming more easily distracted and thus the task takes longer to complete correctly.

By spending time organising your children’s schedules you can try to establish a better flow between your children that may be in various grades, your own tasks and balancing the use of limited technological devices if necessary. As quoted by Benjamin Franklin “for every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned”. There are wonderful ideas and free resources for setting up schedules online:

  • Start with the easier content first thing in the day.

By doing this, your child is starting confidently, and this creates a positive tone for the day. Start with the subject or content area that your child enjoys the most, or where their strengths lie. Perhaps even ask them to choose what area they would like to begin with. Ensure that you end off the day again with the easier content, as you then end off the “school day” on a positive note. This then sets a positive tone for the following day.

  • Make sure that you encourage regular breaks throughout the “school time”.

Perhaps set an alarm or timer, which prevents your child from constantly checking the time, yet ensures that breaks are taken frequently. These breaks need to include activities that get the blood flowing and gives your child some fresh air. Therefore, try and avoid screen time, and provide your child with various options such as playing with the dog, doing jumping jacks, having something to eat and drink, taking a walk around the garden, etc. Remember if your child becomes emotional, very little effective learning will take place. Rather take a 5 minute break to refresh.

  • Be aware of your child’s emotional needs and concerns during this time, as it is an emotionally charged period for us all, no matter our age. The article to follow will address some emotional aspects with regards to children that are important to consider amidst the Covid19 pandemic.

  • Chat to other parents.

Having someone to share your thoughts and feelings with during this time is extremely important. It is vital that despite social distancing we rely on each other, as there are many other parents feeling many of the same feelings that you are experiencing currently. Realising that you are not alone can provide a sense of relief and an opportunity to express your frustrations (yes you can have these). You may also find that you can benefit from other tips and tricks that other parents have found that work within their home.

  • Keep in mind that the aim of most schools right now is to keep you child intellectually stimulated despite the circumstances.

Nobody is expecting you to be a qualified teacher and cover all the content perfectly. Not every child has access to technology and Wi-Fi. Some children have parents working the frontline as essential service providers and thus they do not necessarily have someone assisting with their schoolwork. Do the best you can, in your current situation, and maintain open communication with the teacher. The teachers will support where necessary once schools are able to reopen.

  • Make time to have fun with your child.

This can be a movie date, picnic in the garden, a weekly board game, etc. Make the most of this time spent at home. It will be good for everyone!

  • Be kind to yourself!

This is an extremely trying time for everyone. There is so much uncertainty and managing work, running a household without help and now with home-schooling added to this pile it can all be extremely daunting. Take it one step at a time. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect and get it all right. Look after yourself. You cannot give to your child if your cup is empty. Look after yourself first and foremost. Your children pick up on your emotional state – so if you are positive this will be mirrored by your child.




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