Herald Sun

Opportunit­y to learn differentl­y

- SARAH MARINOS

LEARNING online and from home presents some challenges for children and parents, but it can lead to some memorable learning moments.

The decision to close schools for much of Term 2 has understand­ably caused families some angst.

Home office supply stores across the country reported a rush on laptops and computer monitors, desks, stationery, office chairs and Wi-Fi gadgets as parents quickly tried to transform their child’s bedroom or the family study in to a temporary classroom.

Meanwhile, students and teachers have had to swiftly become experts in the kind of technology that supports the continuing education of preps to VCE and VCAL students.

Eloise Rickman is a parent educator whose work focuses on evidence-based parenting and home education. She is also the author of a new book called Extraordin­ary Parenting: The Essential Guide To Parenting And Educating At Home (Scribe Publicatio­ns, $22.99).

While acknowledg­ing the extra commitment for families who are juggling working from home themselves, Ms

Rickman says this term can be a win-win for parents and children and adds that parents shouldn’t put themselves under pressure.

“Parents can feel they have to have bums on seats eight hours a day, as if their children were at school — they may try and replicate the classroom and the structure of the school day,” she says. “They may feel anxious about how much they need to be doing with their children, but educating from home allows learning to be more flexible. There’s an opportunit­y to allow children to deep dive into what interests them. Children are natural learners — they are sponges — and have plenty of potential to learn by themselves and at home.”

Ms Rickman says there is also no need to buy expensive resources. Novels on the family bookshelve­s, watching documentar­ies on TV, listening to audio books and taking maths learning into the kitchen by measuring ingredient­s and then baking together can all build learning.

“Schools have to teach in a certain way because teachers are managing a class of 20 or 30 children. It’s an impossible task to tailor content to the needs and interests of each child,” Ms Rickman says.

“But parents can do this at home. You can discover topics that children are interested in, talk about the natural world and dinosaurs, and about kings and queens of the past, and all this knowledge acts as pegs on which children can hang other bits of knowledge.”

Ms Rickman says this time at home is an opportunit­y for siblings to deepen connection­s and to learn together.

“Siblings often spend several hours a day, five days a week apart and they’re now learning how to spend more time together — they can become friends again!” she says. “I’m also hearing from a lot of parents who are grateful to have this time with their children — some say they haven’t spent as much time with their kids since they were on maternity leave.

“They feel they are getting to know their kids in a different way and are actually seeing how they learn.”

EXTRAORDIN­ARY PARENTING IS PUBLISHED ON MAY 19

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