With the current uncertainty and sudden change to our kids schooling routines, it’s likely that as parents and caregiver’s we’re feeling a little uncertain about how to keep our kids on track and motivated to learn at home.
While teenagers and secondary school students may be more adept at switching to independent online learning, their younger counterparts may not be as familiar with technology and need extra support. But how do we keep them on track? And what do we do when we’re not getting through the workload set for them?
We spoke with primary school teacher Bonnie Singh about how to keep kids motivated and on track while they’re not in the classroom.
“The number one thing in my opinion is the child’s wellbeing, and the parent’s too while they’re at home.”
Here’s a few of her tips that help you navigate distance learning with your little one.
Break up the day
“The mornings are best for young children so set aside some time to do learning with your child,” says Bonnie. Her recommendation is, where possible, to separate your child’s learning from your own work rather than trying to work parallel with each other. “By scheduling your day, you and your child know there’s an end point where they can switch off and you can get your own work done.”
“Teachers will be setting different amounts of work depending on schools, states and year levels, just try and go as far as you can with what your child has been set.” Her advice is to speak with your teachers about prioritising tasks by importance, so that you have a clear plan.
Set small goals
“We do the same thing in the classroom,” explains Bonnie, “and kids naturally work this way.” She recommends trying to do a few math’s problems or reading a few lines of a book then having a short break.
If there’s one thing you do a day
As Bonnie explains, “learning happens outside the classroom lessons all the time. Naturally your first point of call will be your teacher and school support staff if your child is struggling with motivation and the work isn’t getting done, but you can also look for alternative ways to keep them engaged in the meantime.”
“Reading is especially important; try and have your child read at least once a day if they’re younger read to them.” Bonnie also highlights the importance of play. “Children learn through play; they go hand in hand. Allow your child to simply play and if you can find connections to their schoolwork then great.” She also recommends looking online for websites and apps where your child can engage in extra independent learning or games they can play with you or their siblings.
“I get it, I’m a parent too! It’s important to remember these are extraordinary circumstances and we’re all doing the best we can.” Bonnie recommends if it’s getting too stressful and overwhelming learning at home, then just stop; “getting the work done is not as important as your child’s wellbeing.”
“If you’re anxious about trying to get the work done, children will pick up on that and it will be an unhealthy environment – nothing will get achieved.” Her advice is to keep your communication open with your teachers of what is and isn’t working and they’ll be able to provide guidance for you.
One online resource Bonnie recommends for parents is author, educator and parenting and resilience specialist Maggie Dent. “Maggie has a huge range of information including blogs, podcasts and books that are useful in understanding your child and supporting parents and caregivers. I would definitely recommend any parent check her out.”
You can visit Maggie Dent’s website here.
Find your silver lining
If there’s something you and your child love doing together and don’t usually get the time, make the most of this unique opportunity. Bonnie says, “it looks like kids will go back to school sooner rather than later, so keep things in perspective – it isn’t worth the stress at home and teachers will soon fill in gaps when they’re back in the classroom.”
If we’re feeling uncertain it’s likely our kids are too so it’s important to keep the communication open and start the conversation ourselves. If you need some tips about talking to kids about coronavirus check out our blog to learn more.