If you and your children are all doing work from your home, it’s likely that this is the first time that has ever happened. One of the biggest issues in this new way of learning for parents seems to be, and you might also feel the same, is ‘how do I fit in the home learning and everything else I have to do during the day?’
Organising the routine of the day together as a family is a great opportunity to collaborate with your child and empower them as IB learners, IB learners of any age.
Many families, including my teachers who have children, will be experiencing similar issues that your family is and it will take some time to get into a new daily, family routine where a balance between the children's learning and the parents working from home is found. Every day we are confronted with new challenges aren't we, it seems that from one day to the next, there is a change which poses another obstacle for us to navigate. It is not the school's place to advise you on how best you manage your home routines, however I can offer a few points which may help you to build on and strengthen your learning routine.
1. Make a space for learning
Many adults have a specific area of the home in which they work, and it’s important that a similar space is created for your child. If you are all working in the same space, find a place in the space that is your child’s place to learn. If possible, this space should be a different set-up than where they normally play games or watch television.
2. Build a daily routine
Children like routine and believe it or not, boundaries.
These help to provide a sense of safety and security for them.
A schedule, for your work and your child’s work, is extremely important. It is also important to keep the normal daily patterns of getting up, changing for work/school (not staying in their pj’s for the day which is very tempting), snack and meal times, a time to play and have fun and keep to the normal sleeping patterns.
3. Remember to schedule time for fun
While this is most certainly not a holiday/vacation, it is important to have some fun with your children while they are at home. It’s rare that you have this much time with your children, it can also be the hardest thing to be all home together in close confines, so see this as an opportunity to bond. Some families have said they are organising a family tournament, family card games, board games, puzzles, charades, or chess. Some families are enjoying preparing the meals and cooking together, listening to music together and having a daily family yoga session.
4. Keep in touch with other parents
Social distancing is important during this time, but staying in touch with others via virtual communication is very important. Each parent that has a child at home is going to be going through a similar experience. Check in with other parents to see what they’ve found effective, and ask if they need help as well. Keep your conversations positive, avoid comparing between children, their learning tasks or comparing between schools. It is easy to be negative and there is so much negativity around us in the media so let’s try our hardest to remain positive.
When it comes to home learning, the teachers and single subject teachers have planned a variety of developmentally appropriate learning engagements for the children to work on. These don't all have to be finished and should be self paced and self chosen. The teachers have given a balance between online and offline learning as well, just like in our classrooms.
It is not intended that the children's day will look just like a school day, they are not expected to work all day and other activities they involve themselves in should be regarded as learning such as doing a puzzle, taking a quiet time to read by themselves or sharing a book together as a family, colouring in, painting, playing with their toys/gadgets and other family activities.
Please be patient when waiting for feedback from the teacher to be posted. Teachers are aiming to give feedback to every child in a timely fashion however this will not be immediate as their day is not only spent reading work uploaded but they are also in daily meetings with the other members of their team.
It isn't easy, I know only too well, but the one thing which is important to me is that you preserve the relationship you have with your children. If things get tough and frustrating take a break, distract them, and then come back to it at another time. Remember it doesn’t all have to be done! To me it is important that you and your children don't lose the love of learning.
Lastly there is so much advice out there, on the tv; across the internet; from members of your family; and from other parents. Find a source that you trust, ones that are reliable and accurate and try not to panic – separate the rumours from the facts. Your children will want to talk about the virus, school closure and may ask questions you don’t have answers too. Please don’t make up responses, as this can give a false sense of security. If you don’t know something: say “I don’t know, let’s try and find out together.”
Stay well, stay safe and enjoy learning with your children.