Op­por­tu­nity to learn dif­fer­ently

Herald Sun - - ONLINE LEARNING - 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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