During the Covid-19 crisis parents and children alike find themselves at home. Many parents are working remotely for the first time and they are also now with their children 24/7 and having to take a more active role in their education on a daily basis. A parent’s role in doing school at home versus home schooling is distinctly different and this point needs to be made to help diffuse the tensions that are building among parents who think they now have to be their child’s teacher too.

A parent who actively chooses to home school their child makes decisions on what curriculum to teach their child and then takes on the role as teacher vs what most of us are currently experiencing in that the school still determines the curriculum and how it will be taught. A parent is there to guide their child and support the teacher and child to get the work done.

First up, let’s understand that you are not your child’s teacher. Teachers are working overtime at the moment creating lesson plans online and offline for your children and finding new ways to teach remotely. They are missing your child enormously and are not at home with their feet up drinking tea.

The Corona Virus pandemic has hit the education sector hard. It was one of many industries that was overripe for disruption and now has no choice but to change. Also, remember that many teachers are parents themselves while also educating your children remotely. They know what you are going through, trying to balance the demands of your job with the demands of your family.

What is your role now?

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Create a space in which your child can do their schoolwork.
  • Set them up practically with their stationery, a device, internet connection, etc.
  • If the school hasn’t suggested a timetable, you will have to create one including breaks.
  • Do not try and create a carbon copy of a normal school day – this is a version of the school day not a duplication of it.
  • School at home is different from school at school.
  • You don’t need to know all the answers.
  • You’re a responsible for sleep, food, general discipline, motivation and providing structure
  • You are the guide alongside.
  • Give teachers your full support – collaborate.
  • Trust your child’s schools.
  • Have patience with your child, with their teacher and with yourself.
  • Know who to approach at the school for IT support – it is not your child’s teacher.
  • Ensure you child ‘sees’ their teacher on a screen at least once every few days during lockdown – for a child in preschool up to grade 3, they need to see their teacher daily, if possible.
  • Children under age 8 will need plenty of adult supervision to get their schoolwork done and to navigate this new space.
  • Because young children need a more hands-on, multi-sensory, tactile approach to learning this is where parents will have to be particularly involved in their child’s ongoing education, to ensure basic concepts are grasped as they underpin all learning moving forward.
  • Children from 9 years and up will be able to concentrate sufficiently to be able to work on their one for short blocks of time and interacting with their teacher.
  • Children in high school should be able to manage most things on their own – your role here will be more to provide structure and motivation to keep them going.
  • Your child’s work may take less time than a normal school day because they are working alone and there are less class/group interruptions.
  • Keep in touch with your child’s teacher but try not to encroach on their own family time at night – respect the boundaries.
  • Manage your own anxiety and fear as it is more infectious than the Corona Virus.

With teaching time having already been lost there are questions as to whether your child will get through the syllabus this year and whether there will be learning gaps. Schools and teachers are busy trimming the curriculum and re-looking at how they might assess children.

As learners are phased back into schools over a period of a few months, we will probably see a hybrid system of education emerging – a combination of distance learning and face-to-face classroom time with teachers. No-one yet knows what it will look like. If learning gaps develop for your child, they will need to be dealt with on a case by case basis. What teachers are trying to avoid is having to re-teach the work covered during lockdown once children get back to the school environment.

Everything is different in the education space – for schools, teachers, parents and children. Let’s be patient. Let’s be curious. Let’s embrace the changes and keep our children in the middle. Learning hasn’t stopped. Learning happens all the time. The way we deliver education, however, is changing dramatically, and we are all muddling through to see what works and what doesn’t. We have never been here before. The solutions are evolving, as they must.


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