Guide to home education
What steps can parents take to make learning online as stress-free and enjoyable as possible — for everyone in the home
SCHOOLS remain closed for most students across Victoria and parents continue to support their children as they adjust to learning at home.
Here, Eloise Rickman, author of Extraordinary Parenting: The Essential Guide to Parenting and Educating at Home, shares her tips for making the experience as pain-free and as pleasurable as possible.
Relationships that foster a strong sense of emotional stability are important to build a young person’s resilience and flexibility to respond to change.
“Children rely on parents to provide a strong emotional base at home — that’s more important than sitting down and doing endless worksheets with them,” Ms Rickman says.
Create a family rhythm — a schedule or routine, but not something rigid.
“Rhythm is about ensuring days have a predictable flow to them. In school, children are used to having structure in the day so not having that can be challenging.
“Younger children in particular may not understand why they can’t see their teachers.
“Creating a sense of new normal so they feel some predictability in an uncertain time is important.”
Punctuate the week with things like eating lunch together at a certain time, making pancakes together on a Sunday morning, or going for a family walk at the end of the day.
Don’t try and replicate the traditional school day. “You don’t have to supervise your kids to do six or seven hours of lessons every day,” Ms Rickman says.
“Step back and encourage them to find new ways of learning what they are interested in.
“If you have a high school student interested in mechanics, this is the time for them to tinker with a car. If they are interested in photography, give them time to explore with a camera.”
If your teenager is working and studying hard to complete assignments and prepare for exams, ensure there is some delineation between work time and time to switch off.
Encourage older siblings to mentor and support younger siblings with their school work. “When they teach something to a younger brother or sister it also strengthens their own understanding of that topic,” Ms Rickman says.
If you are working from home, show your children what you do during the day at work.
“My husband is a researcher at a university and he uses a lot of computer programming.
“My young daughter wanted to know what Daddy did so he’s been showing her some basic bits of code.
“Teach your child a little of what you do at work and they can teach you what they are learning,” Ms Rickman suggests.
Look at the basics — if your child has to do a lot of desk work, are they sitting comfortably in a calm place where they can focus?
Have a bowl of fruit and some healthy snacks close to hand, so they can eat something nutritious during breaks and refill drink bottles regularly so they stay well hydrated.