By now, the reality of remote learning will be starting to sink in for a lot of parents and teachers.
This is all very new for so many teachers and in my 20 plus years of teaching, I have never encountered such a thing. But despite the many challenges we will face, I know the relationship between school and home will be paramount along with a little more respect for everyone involved!
The number one piece of advice I would be giving parents is to have a routine from day one. A routine or schedule in our daily lives helps us get through everything we need to do and gives us structure and purpose. As the school holidays start to come to a close, as in Victoria, or have just started in other states and territories, the days can easily begin to merge into one when in isolation. The pyjama day suddenly turns into pyjama days, our sleeping and eating patterns slowly change as we find the kids, and ourselves, in the pantry grazing all day. It is going to be very difficult to get into a routine of remote learning from home because we are not physically leaving the house to go to school or work. So what will our day look like you might ask?
Start by asking the kids what they expect this to be like so they have input and what will help them remain engaged and productive. It might include things like setting up their learning space, identifying what they can do independently, a reward system, packing their lunchbox and having a visible timetable so they know what to expect. Once that has been established, you may want to factor in what the school has provided in terms of work and expectations. Each school will be different and also following directives from their state or territory department.
If parents are working from home, remote learning will be difficult to juggle which is why it is unrealistic to think you are going to have to be with your children supporting them from 9-3.30 pm. This is certainly not viable or valuable for anyone, keep your expectations real and achievable for you and your family. This is not a normal scenario for a lot of us so it will be very much trial and error.
Start the day by getting the kids up at their usual time or a bit later if you don’t have to commute or fight traffic. Allow the normal school morning routine to carry out including breakfast, getting dressed and maybe packing a lunchbox! Maybe a quick lesson in making the bed could be thrown in for good measure? I know packing a lunchbox sounds strange but, it stops the grazing and excuses to ‘get out of class!’ If everyone knows what time ‘school’ starts then that is the first hurdle crossed. You may find your child wants to roughly follow their school timetable but again, if you are supporting more than one child this may not be possible. Some common times though, may include fruit time in class, recess/playtime and lunchtime. As I mentioned, it will be trial and error and I can guarantee a reward system will work well, no matter if they are in primary or secondary school! From stickers to extra time on a device or in my house, removal of non- essential devices including gaming, will be key. Have the same boundaries, rewards, consequences, expectations, sleeping and eating patterns as you would if the kids were at school. Maintaining a routine will actually make the weekends look different to you and the kids because pyjama day and staying up a little later will be more enjoyable rather than the days all rolling into one and feeling like ground hog day!
Remember, we are all in this together and we will learn a lot about ourselves and our kids, good, bad or otherwise!