Be a parent to your child at home, not a teacher
Term two began last week in Victoria in very different circumstances because of the coronavirus, and Deakin University is offering some advice to parents now juggling the tasks of working from home and remote learning.
Dr Elizabeth Rouse from Deakin’s School of Education said parents were understandably concerned and may be feeling overwhelmed by the dual roles they were managing.
“My advice is to always remember that you are a parent and not your child’s teacher. Your role is not to teach your children a curriculum but to support them as they try to make sense of this new world of school they are facing.
“Once the term starts, teachers will be working very hard to support children and make learning at home fun and engaging. What they want from parents is to know that you are working in partnership with them so they can get the best educational outcomes they can.”
She said parents should focus on what they could do to ensure their child’s wellbeing and understand their child may be feeling out of sorts.
“We need to understand their equilibrium has been challenged and make allowances for behaviour that is not normal.”
Dr Rouse said parents also needed to acknowledge their own feelings in the circumstances due to the demands of working from home, new financial challenges, isolation and concern for family and loved ones living elsewhere.
“I urge all parents to put all this into perspective, take it easy on themselves, and realise there are limits to what can be done.
“Everyone is learning as they go through these COVID-19 measures and the technology may be just as new for many teachers as it is for parents, so it’s important to be patient with yourselves, your kids and their teachers.”
She offered these tips for managing the home schooling phase:
- Get children into a routine: set up a timetable with your children so they can stay on top of what they are doing during the day. This requires good communication with the school and ensuring good breaks for snacks and relaxation
- Remember that school is only from 9am-3pm and children also have at least two breaks in this day. Children should be doing no more than five hours of schooling (plus usual homework time)
- Accept lapses in concentration and engagement. It is important to acknowledge and support children’s need to take a break. Give them permission to come back to their work when they are feeling more connected
- Have honest discussions with your children about how they’re feeling and, if they are feeling overwhelmed, work together to navigate a way through the challenges. Let them know that it is okay not to be okay, but it is not okay not to talk about it
- Allow time at the end of the day for all the family to switch off computers and devices and spend positive time together. This is especially important for families with younger children who enjoy the bedtime story routine for cuddles and conversation.