Covid19 homeschool – tips for parents from parents

This ‘school at home, online’ gig is tough, there is no doubt about it! Many of us have children in different grades studying so many different things. Some of us have children who need additional support when learning. All of us are in uncharted territory and on one of the steepest learning curves of our lives.

As part of our work at Jump Up For Kids we talk to a lot of parents and as the weeks have passed by, we’ve sensed that things aren’t going well for many of the families with whom we work. Parents are exhausted, children are stressed and cranky, many are not getting through all the work being sent home and tech works intermittently. There’s been tears, make up worn less often and sometimes we can gauge how things are going by the state of people’s hair (not that we are judging, just saying there’s been a change).

Then one day last week, I had a telehealth appointment with a family who were laughing, calm and seemed to be enjoying the ‘new normal’. It was really noticeable because they seemed so different to everyone else I’d been talking to. So, I asked this family for some tips…what’s worked, what hasn’t and what they might keep doing beyond Covid19 restrictions. Here’s what they have shared:

How are you finding Covid19 homeschooling?

Stressful at first but I’ve taken the pressure off myself to be perfect and get it all done. We just do what we can and that’s good enough.

What has worked for you with homeschooling?

  • Starting homeschool learning at a time that best suited my child. We were starting at 9am and I was met with a lot of resistance. We now have lunch at 11am and then start school right after that. This is working much better and he concentrates for longer.
  • I’ve changed some of the school work to make it a bit more fun (when possible).
  • We only sit at the desk for short stints before he becomes frustrated and sometimes distressed. So I try to minimise desk work. Some ideas I’ve tried instead are:
    • sight words using a bingo game instead of a sight word sheet
    • roll and squishing playdough to make spelling words
    • rolls playdough balls to help with addition & subtraction – gives him a visual cue and he’s doing something with his hands
    • do some maths on the driveway with chalk
    • reading activities while swinging on a swing.
  • Limit handwriting when it is frustrating for him. Instead I help him by letting him answer verbally and I write the answer – we get through a lot more work this way.
  • If it’s a bad day for whatever reason, I ditch the school work. I pick a movie and make up a reason for why the movie is a learning activity (eg Honey I Shrunk the Kids is a movie for science). Some days it just hasn’t worked and I’d rather look after our mental health. I can tell when my son is done and he isn’t learning anything because he is so stressed.
  • I only bother with the core work. I don’t push to do all the work. I pick and choose through the work that I’m given rather than thinking I must get through every bit. I know my son and what he can tolerate.
  • I ask the school to provide the work in printed format as both my son and I find it easier if it is printed rather than online. I put all the work in a folder, so when I doubt what I’ve been doing or feel like I haven’t done enough, I can look at the folder and feel reassured that we have actually covered a lot.
  • If I’m feeling frustrated and it’s time to start learning, I don’t start. I have a coffee outside and get into a better headspace. Otherwise I will not have the patience for homeschooling and I’ll lose it when my son starts to crack off rather than being able to keep everything calm.
  • Incentives! If you get through this, you can have a muesli bar, go play outside, do a movement activity (eg:Gonoodle), play with the hose in the garden for 5 minutes.
  • Use lots of movement breaks.

What hasn’t worked for you when homeschooling?

  • Trying to keep going when my son is past a certain point.
  • Giving the iPad for breaks during learning time. A 10 minute break on the iPad ended up in another 10 minutes of arguing about if not being fair that he can’t watch more.

What will you continue doing after school goes back?

Homeschooling has helped me understand my son even more – what he is good at, what he struggles with, what we need to practice more, what does and doesn’t work with him. This will really help when I need to do homework in the future.

I can see his handwriting improved with 1:1 real time critiquing, which is something I will continue when he’s back at school.

It is important to remember that every family and every child is different, so their approaches to schooling at home should also be different and individual. What I love about the information shared above is that this family has figured out what works for them and has made decisions based on that. This not only supports the mental and physical health of everyone in the family but also means the learning is likely to be more meaningful and longer lasting than if they had ploughed through everything that had been sent to them.

Written by: Madeline Avci, Director Jump Up for Kids

Madeline Avci is the Director of Jump Up For Kids and is a huge advocate of children balancing their time in front of screens with time playing outside where they ignite all of their senses. At work and through her own children, she sees the joy in children’s eyes as they rise up to meet the challenges that nature provides. Jump Up For Kids brings together over twenty years of Madeline’s experience in Occupational Therapy, teaching and parenting, to offer children and their families a ‘just right’ experience in a world that often feels hurried and stressed.

Jump Up For Kids combines expert knowledge of the demands of the modern world, the education system and child development to provide a service that advocates and promotes a common sense approach to raising children in the modern world.

Jump Up For Kids Occupational Therapists work alongside children, families, educators and industry leaders to help develop and promote the independence and resilience children and young people need to do the things they need to do each day and the things they want to do. Jump Up For Kids strives to maintain outstanding levels of service for our clients and strives to place itself at the forefront of Child Development within the Health, Education and Community Development industries.

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