Parents and students facing learning at home challenge

LEARNING: School at home offers opportunities and challenges. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK.
LEARNING: School at home offers opportunities and challenges. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK.

It's fair to say no parent anticipated that students of all ages would be working full time from home for an extended period in 2020.

For many parents of primary school students, balancing work, work from home, or the task of homeschooling for the first time, has been a very stressful adjustment.

Here's some handy hints for making the learning at home an easier journey.

Available tech

Not everyone will have the technology freely available at home to take up online learning immediately, but there are some steps you can take.

Approach your school: Many schools recognise that providing the appropriate technology for your child will be tough, particularly when many parents were asked to start schooling from home with short notice. As a result, many schools have offered loan programs for students, which allow them to borrow the equipment they need. Every school is different, but don't hesitate to ask the question.

Schedule: If you have one computer or device at home which needs to be shared between kids, make a schedule to make sure each child can have a chance to complete their work. Most schools have paper-based elements for students to complete as well as online work, so alternating between should relieve the stress of needing to use the computer. It is worth noting that older students will require more device time, so if you have children across different stages, this may become difficult to manage.

Invest: If you have already been thinking about investing in a device for your child, now is a good time to take the plunge. Investigate brands and deals that will work for you. Basic tablets and laptops are available which do not have to break the bank.

Get to know programs: If you haven't used Zoom, or Seesaw, or Loop, Reading Eggs, Mathletics or any other of the countless programs now being used to deliver your kids' education, take a minute to get acquainted with the ones your child is commonly using. That way you can lend a helping hand if needed.

Talk it out

With the kids: Talk with your home learners about why this is all happening. It's likely they are at least as overwhelmed as you are. See if you can cooperatively come up with a plan that suits you and ticks all the boxes for learning, free time and exercise.

With teachers: This is a new world for everyone. Teachers are on a learning curve as well. Be open and honest with them about what's working and what's not. Encourage your kids to interact with their teachers, attending group Zoom lessons and sharing videos as instructed.

Take breaks

Students are not expected to be actively learning six hours a day. This is not how school works and, for the sake of focus and sanity, primary school kids need to be allowed time to play creatively, relax and be physically active.

Get creative

In the midst of online classroom learning, it is important to remember that there are all kinds of ways to learn. Many schools have been distributing suggested timetables for parents to follow, which focus on breaking the day up into manageable chunks of time to be dedicated to school work, creative time, relaxation and exercise.

Find a schedule that works for you and your family. If the kids find it difficult to fill their creative time, give them a challenge, like creating a loungeroom fort, making furniture for a doll house out of household items or be inspired by others - many families have been taking up the challenge of recreating famous paintings using only what they find in their homes.

Be kind to yourself

Turn off the noise sometimes. Accept that too much screen time will happen, messes will happen, losing of tempers is likely. Don't feel you have to do everything, or take up every suggestion for activities that scrolls through your social feed. Being a source of stability and comfort for your child is most important.