In light of many areas being in the thick of home-schooling right now, we thought we’d throw to the experts at RMIT with some tips on making home-schooling as painless as possible.
We learnt during last lockdown that full-time work, full-time parenting and full-time teaching can’t all be done simultaneously by parents – here are five tips on prioritising what matters most for your kids.
RMIT’s Dr Anamika Devi is a lecturer of early childhood education in the School of Education and a proud mother.
She shares five strategies to help you make home-schooling work as well as possible during lockdown.
1. Maintain a routine for young children and yourself
Devi says setting up a routine for daily activities can regulate your body clock, minimise frustration and keep you organised.
“In this unpredictable situation, planning our time in such a way means we can focus on children’s activities as well as fulfil our work commitments,” she says.
“Following a set routine can minimise stress and anxiety for parents and their children, while promoting organisation and enjoyment of learning moments at home.
“Children should have a clear picture of what the day may look like and what activities they are going to finish – just like they would in the classroom.
“Breaks are an important inclusion for any routine, so children have an opportunity to engage in physical activities and have some healthy snacks.”
Devi encouraged parents to seek advice and support from their children’s school, so that their home routine matches one they would usually follow.
2. Involve your children in everyday family tasks
Devi says engaging kids in the family’s day-to-day activities is one of the most effective ways to keep them occupied, while giving a strong sense of ownership in their family’s operations.
“Consider making chores a bit more fun by using a reward-based bingo chart, with activities such as washing the dishes, walking the pet and watering the garden,” she says.
After finishing a task, they get a sticker. A set number of stickers earns them a reward, such as watching a movie or earning some extra cash.
“This way, they are given the opportunity to take responsibility to complete some household tasks while simultaneously feeling they are a proud member of the family,” Devi says.
“They will position themselves as a valuable family member and will feel confident enough to share their opinions.
“Continuing to do this bingo activity post-COVID-19 could give children the sense of being a valuable member of the family and divert them from stressful thinking.”
3. It’s okay to play
Devi says playing is a fun but vital activity, which helps children reduce distress while learning new things from their surroundings.
“Children perceive real experiences by engaging in imaginative worlds,” she says.
“For example, by pretending to be a doctor and a patient, they try to understand these real-life roles through their imaginations.
“Playing with puzzles, blocks, musical instruments and using recycled items for building any construction could be appropriate for young children.”
For older kids, Devi suggests creating longer projects that teach a lesson while giving a sense of accomplishment.
“The classic papier-mâché volcano is great for this, it keeps children active and creative while teaching them about our world,” she says.
“These projects also support children’s holistic development and improves their self-learning capabilities.”
4. Make wellbeing of your children and yourself the top priority
Devi says it’s important to realise we can’t achieve everything and managing expectations can reduce our stress and tension.
“Don’t feel guilty if you can’t give your children enough of your time or activities,” she says.
“Rather, communicate with teachers and other parents to learn about alternative techniques and arrangements.
“This will assist with being flexible with children’s routines and thinking realistically of a way of managing workloads during this unexpected time.
“If both parents are working from home, then having a mutual understanding among all family members is vital.
“It is impossible to juggle everything; rather, we should think about cutting out some of the extra workload for the wellbeing of all family members.
5. Create a space for family time
Devi says creating a family space by sharing time, even just to enjoy a movie together, can boost our mood and give us the energy to finish work commitments.
“In our free time, we should enjoy moments with children without the pressure of achievement or learning goals,” she says.
But it’s also important for parents to talk to their children about the coronavirus, by creating a safe family space where concerns can be shared.
“Young children can experience anxiety and stress more than adults as they are seeing news on TV or hearing updates from other people but with perhaps less understanding about the practical situation,” Devi says.
“We need to allow them to express their feelings and welcome them to open up a discussion.
“Having a conversation and relating the current situation in a positive way to children could minimise their anxiety and stress, even ours as well.
“If we view the situation positively, plan accordingly, follow the routine, maintain a flexible attitude and focus on our wellbeing, we’ll be in a better mindset to enjoy this time spent with children at home during this pandemic and even once it’s over.”
Story: Aeden Ratcliffe
*Originally published on RMIT https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2020/jul/home-schooling-during-lockdown