20 April 2020

Two months ago, most school-aged children (and their parents/carers, too!) would have been blissfully unfamiliar with the terms social distancing, home isolation and coronavirus. Today, however, they’re firmly entrenched in our vocabulary and daily lives – along with the concept of home-based or remote learning, which is the new norm for at least the next five weeks. For many students, families and teachers, this is a whole new experience, and no doubt there will be a learning curve to navigate, but it’s important to remember we’re all #inthistogether at this extraordinary time. To help make the transition from parent/carer to teacher aide a little easier, here are some tips for supporting your child to learn at home – so you both get the most out of the experience.

1. Set up a supportive learning environment

Every home is different but it’s important to provide a quiet and comfortable space to learn. At home learning should take place in a space your family shares if possible. Lounge rooms or dining rooms are preferable, as your child may feel isolated and supervision could be challenging in a bedroom.

The ideal at-home learning environment should be a place that:

  • is quiet and has a strong internet signal
  • is supervised by an adult, particularly when online activity is involved (dependent on age).

2. Communicate with your child

Start and end each day with a check-in to help your child clarify and understand the instructions from their teachers and organise their priorities for learning at home. For example:

Morning check-ins

“What are you learning today?  What are your learning targets or goals? How will you be spending your time? What resources do you need? What support do you need?”

Afternoon check-ins

  • “What did you learn today? What was challenging? You could come up with a way to deal with the same problem if it comes up again.”
  • “Consider three things that went well today. Why were they good? Are you ok? Do you need to ask your teacher for something? Do you need help with something to make tomorrow more successful?”

These questions allow your child to process the instructions from their teachers and help organise and set priorities. You could also check in with your child throughout the day depending on your child’s needs.

3. Set and maintain healthy routines

A healthy daily routine is great for mental health, physical health, concentration and learning. The Queensland Department of Education has published a study timetable for parents which estimates approximate daily study time. The department recommends two to three hours of learning each day, and to treat the first week as an orientation to get settled.

Encourage regular exercise breaks. This might mean going for a walk, using exercise DVDs and apps, dancing, floor exercises or using home exercise equipment. Also encourage healthy eating habits and ensure your child drinks enough water.

4. Communicate with teachers

Your school will work with you and your child to provide support via different methods like video chat, virtual classrooms, emails or a learning management system. It is important to encourage your child to communicate with their teacher when needed but to be patient as teachers will be communicating with lots of families during this time.

Remember that no one expects you to be a subject matter expert or teacher when you are supporting your child to learn from home. The most important thing you can do is continue to provide comfort, support and encouragement to your child, alongside a teacher who will be supporting your child with online material.  If you are struggling to teach your child from home, contact your school to seek help with any issues. Remember to be kind to yourself as you try to navigate rapidly changing circumstances during the pandemic.

5. Check in on their mental health and wellbeing daily

Finally, it’s important to make time every day to check in on your child’s mental health and wellbeing. As they adjust to the new learning routine, without being able to and is see their friends in person, it’s important to understand their feelings of frustration, anxiousness and even anger – every child will react differently.

Check-in by:

  • Giving them an opportunity to talk about how they feel and listening to what they say.
  • Identifying one or two things they could do to address what they are concerned or angry about.
  • Asking how they are going, whether they are finding it easy or hard to learn remotely, and if there is anything, they would like your help with.

Useful links

Department of Education information

Parenting Support