Homeschooling? How’s that going for you?

Wow, what a wild ride we’ve had with Covid19 and local schools encouraging students to work online from home. As a teacher and a mother, I thought I’d have this whole school from home thing down to a fine art. How very deluded was I!

I saw the memes all over Facebook looking at the lighter side of the frustrations of supporting the learning of children at home. I felt for parents in the Sutherland Shire Facebook groups who were looking for advice and just somewhere to vent. I see you and also needed to dig deep into my emotional vault to get through helping my own children do their school work. It’s far easier to teach someone else’s child than your own. As a teacher, I have never felt more valued as parents acknowledged the various roles teachers play in contributing to the village that it takes to raise a child.

My biggest tips for getting through this time of flux (and homework generally when we get back to normal school attendance) are here to help parents and kids:

1. Don’t try to replicate school: I saw these beautiful schedules produced by Pinterest Mums. Colour coded, decorated with positive quotes, and scheduled to within an inch of the school day. You’ll run yourself ragged, setting the expectation that your child will follow a strict schedule. If the school has sent out a sample schedule, follow that as best you can. Schools understand you may not be able to get everything ticked off.

2. A happy and positive home is more important during a stressful time than having ALL the work completed. If you can’t get them completing all the work, having them read a book might be a compromise. Break the day into smaller chunks of time rather than trying to replicate an 80-minute period that many high schools follow.

3. Your child might be “faking” submitting tasks – spot check the documents they are uploading. A common way some kiddies are scamming online learning is to submit a blank document. This relies on the premise teacher simply checking the work is “there” and not opening the file. Here’s the hot tip kids – teachers will open the file!

4. Don’t be too quick to assume your child is “lazy” if they aren’t doing much work. If you are concerned, the School Counsellor can do remote check-ins and the Learning Support Teams are still available to support students. Behind “laziness,” there may be a range of other emotions: fear, anxiety, depression…the list is endless. Have a conversation with your child about their lack of motivation. Or even better, simply ask how they are generally feeling. The answer may come out of that discussion.

5. Contact your child’s teacher if you need a little support. We’ve asked you to take on supporting Primary School-aged children and/or specialist subjects at a High School level. Teachers have undertaken rigorous training and ongoing professional development to perfect their craft. Cut yourself some slack. Google may help you a little with some content, but we are happy to give you some tips and tricks that might help.

6. Talk to your kids about Covid19 in terms of facts and not sensationalised stories or urban myths. It’s an excellent opportunity to look at the media and a range of social issues such as racism critically and embed the values of your family. I am always looking for teachable moments as a mum. In preparation for a return to school, discuss the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing. Coming into cold and flu season, this is a timely reminder that should help your child avoid other viruses

7. I’ve had a lot of friends, especially with younger kids, concerned about the return to school. My biggest piece of advice as an educator and mother is doing what you are comfortable with and best meets the unique needs of your child and family. If you have an immunocompromised person at home, you may choose to self-isolate longer. Take the advice of the medical professionals who know your family’s health needs. Until there is a full return to school, take it one day at a time. If your child has any symptoms of cold or flu, keep them home. And again, reinforce good hygiene. I have put hand sanitiser and baby wipes in each car – everyone wipes when we get back into the car, and then they sanitise. I wipe down my mobile phone when I get home with a little bit of disinfectant on a piece of paper towel. Any items that may have been touched by others can be wiped down. Many schools locally are sending emails about not sharing pencils, pens, food, or drink bottles.

8. Be kind to yourself – you’ve done the best job possible under very difficult circumstances.

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