Help and Support
Advice and Support for Parents
With schools closed across the country and most people sticking very close to home, suddenly you as parents are confronted with the task of keeping your children occupied, day in and day out.
There are lots of things we can all do with our children, from creating new routines to devising project-based learning, you as parents can turn a tricky time into an opportunity for new types of learning.
Here are some things to consider:
Routines are important. Schools can provide a structure that is comforting to a child. Losing this routine can leave children unsettled. Think about when your child will do best with more structured times, and when you need your child to be independent for you to have time out or fit in your work schedule.
Invite your child to help you create a routine and try to stick with it. Build in breaks, and if you can, try to find time for your child to go outside. Think about spaces that are best for working and learning—sharing these can be challenging. Try to carve out a corner or counter space for your child to consistently work.
Establish screen time guidelines. Talk through screen time ahead of time, so that your child knows what the expectations are. Have apps and programs in mind for them to use safely. Keep in mind that unsupervised screen time could lead to them seeing things that might be scary at this time.
“Follow your child.” This means observe your child’s passions and tailor their education to them. Learning at home can offer children a chance to dig deeply into a subject of their own choosing, from baking to volcanoes.
Focus on project-based learning; help your child to identify a project they can explore deeply and without too much guidance or adult support. Can your child create and design their own future city? What would it look like if your child tried to map their neighbourhood? Could they create a cookbook with favourite family recipes to share with others?
Independence is important. Children need to learn through experimentation and practice and independence can build a child’s sense of confidence.
Right now, you have the gift of time. Allow your child time to practice tying their shoes or an older child an opportunity to solve a puzzle or problem without solving it for them. Likewise, don’t feel as though you need to rush in to fix every problem. Invite your children to come up with their own solutions or try things first without coming to you for assistance.
Help with household chores. Inevitably, having children at home is going to create more mess, more dishes, more unidentified sticky globs on the floor and chairs. Help your child to identify some daily chores they can accomplish on their own as a part of the routine. Help your child to make a chart that lists activities they can do when they feel bored or you need them to play independently.
Keep up skills, in a fun way. It never hurts to practice basic skills, but allow for children to do this creatively. Playing cards and using dice can be a wonderful tool for reviewing math skills. Cooking offers ample opportunities to measure or practise fractions.
Reviewing these basic skills never hurts and can strengthen understanding for more advanced concepts, and it does not require expensive materials. Games and puzzles build skills in logic and reasoning, but also in taking turns, planning, and creative problem solving.
Make time for literacy. Reading can mean many things. Your children can read directions to a game, read a book to a younger sibling, read a comic, read a newspaper story, read a biography, cut up a newspaper and arrange the words into a poem. You could get them to write a letter to a friend or a nearby neighbour or draw a picture of what happens next in a story or movie.
Help your children to process information by asking them about what they notice, or see, or wonder about, or what they think might happen in a story. Listen to a book online. Watch a video of a favourite author or illustrator talking about their work. Your child could film a movie scene with toys or act out a story with their siblings or stuffed animals.
Go easy on yourself. Do what you can. These are difficult and uncertain times for us all. Talk about things with your children, explain how you can manage stress and change. Ask your children to help think through ways they can be more helpful or ways you can both make a difference in your own community or family. Skype or facetime with other relatives or invite them to Zoom in for dinner one night. Ask friends and relatives what they are doing to keep busy.
If you can, have fun. Build a fort. Have an indoor picnic. Take a walk around the garden. Play I Spy. Make a pie. Create playlists. Have a dance party in the kitchen. Write funny tweets about how hard it is to say at home. Try to find a rhythm or a time when you can get the most work done and maximize this but also schedule time for relaxing and playing.
Your child may be experiences difficulties with their learning at home, which is not an unusual thing for a child. They prefer to learn at school. Below is a list of resources to help assist you with supporting your child at home:
ATTENTION AND LISTENING