The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on people’s lives, and we’re all trying to adjust to the big changes that have taken place in the last few weeks. One of the biggest challenges, for parents and carers, is that many kids across Australia are no longer physically attending school, or care arrangements. This has meant parents and carers have found themselves having to guide their children through ‘at home’ learning.
Assuming a new and unfamiliar role can be tricky, especially if you are also trying to work from home or look after younger children. Below are some tips and resources to help you keep the kids happy and learning.
Teaching kids at home – important things to remember
It’s not school
Teachers (and parents who ordinarily homeschool) have years of experience – you are not expected to duplicate what they do. Just do your best to give your kids a taste of different activities to keep them stimulated and engaged.
Don’t sweat it
Don’t stress about getting things perfect. Help kids to feel safe and secure, and limit their anxiety. If you think your child will be happier playing in the garden or cooking with you, do that. While structure is important, don’t worry if you can’t stick to a ‘school day’ routine. Play is one of best ways for kids to learn, so including play every day is a great learning tool (and can be fun for adults too).
But do sweat
Keeping fit and exercising is the number one thing you and your family can do to keep worries at bay. It’s so vital that the government has included physical activity as one of the only reasons you can leave your house. A walk down your street, or a run around the yard, can make a huge difference to your family’s day. Remember though to be safe and observe social distancing guidelines if you are near other people.
Keep in touch with your school
Many schools and teachers have established online learning facilities or have distributed work for those without internet access. Make sure to read everything they send home and try to incorporate these resources into your planning where possible.
You (and your friends) have plenty to teach them
Many valuable skills are learnt outside of a classroom environment – it’s called the school of life! Share your skills with your kids. If you love to cook, include them in the process. If you know another language – now’s the time to share it. If you love Maths, get involved – take them on a bear hunt and count the teddies. If you have a friend who is a musician, enlist them to teach your kids an instrument over Zoom or Skype, or get more kids together and make it a house party. If you have time, you could also start learning something new together.
Create opportunities for catch ups with friends
Finding ways for kids of all ages to stay in touch is vital. Many older kids will already have phones and be in touch with friends outside school, but for younger ones, this may be the first time they’ve “virtually” caught up with friends. Hook up an old phone or tablet to wifi for your kid to use to contact friends. Encourage them to play, read, or even spend “recess” together.
Watch the screen time
While there are many great online learning options (some listed below), remember to give kids plenty of regular breaks from time in front of the screen.
Homeschooling learning options
The COVID -19 crisis has opened up access to free education like never before. Below are some of the options we’ve found, but look online or through your social media feeds and you’ll find plenty more:
Physical Activity (PE)
Galleries and museums across the world are offering free virtual tours. Take your kids on a virtual excursion. Google have also put the collections of many galleries online to explore. Kids can also learn to draw with famous children’s book illustrator Mo Willems, or older kids might like to try out their design skills on Canva.
Drama and Dance
Local businesses across the globe, who have previously only offered classes in their local area are now going virtual – check out drama lessons from places like The Playhouse in NSW, or dance lessons from Dance Unlimited in Augusta, USA. Try searching online to find lessons streamed from interesting places across the globe.
English (Reading and Storytelling)
There are plenty of places to find reading activities online. Time Magazine has released a free digital library for kids, including worksheets and quizzes. Audible has made a range of kids’ books free online – a great activity for the kids to do while you work. You can also have famous people read to your kids at Story Line. Both Reading Eggs and Reading Express are great resources for literacy skills – many students will have a free account from their school, or you can sign up for a free trial.
Mathletics is full of fun online maths activities for all ages. Again, many students will have a free account from school, or they offer a free trial. Minecraft is also offering a free education edition and you can find other free educational games at Break Out Edu. If you’re kids are into Harry Potter, they can visit a Digital Escape Room from a Public Library in Pennsylvania for a fun maths challenge.
General Education and lesson plans
You can find a range of lessons from ABC Education on a huge range of subjects. For kid friendly news (and lessons) they can visit (and watch) ABC’s BTN, where they can also find stories that explain COVID 19 in ways kids can understand. You can also find a range of Apps and websites for students with special needs, and Playschool is a great resource for those with little kids. If you’d prefer a print out, New Zealand artist Stephen McCarthy has designed a free lockdown diary, to guide kids through fun activities.
Remember, just do what you can, without creating added stress for you or your kids. Keep an eye on your mental health, and that of your family. Spend time together, get outside when you can (even if it’s the backyard), and stay safe. You know your kids best and can give them what they need. You are not a teacher, but with the help of free resources, and regular contact with teachers and friends, you can keep your kids engaged and active during this challenging time.
Stay up to date with official Federal Government information, advice and support, via the Department of Health’s novel coronavirus 2019 portal, the national coronavirus helpline, and the coronavirus app.
MensLine Australia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with professional counsellors providing information and support for all emotional health and relationship issues. Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.