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Homeschooling in COVID-19 pandemic

MMAOTHO SEGOTSO
COVID-19 has shut schools down, but teaching has to continue, meaning parents have become the teachers. Sadly though, most parents do not know their children and they are only just now discovering what teachers have had to put up with. Doubling as a parent and teacher can never be easy, especially that the child has to adjust to you being their 'teacher'.

Sometime back, I wrote about the importance of PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT (PI) in children’s education. One of the things that PI brings in a child/parent relationship is bonding over education. If a parent has been an active partaker in the child’s learning, Home Schooling (HS) will not be that difficult. However, if the parent had abdicated their responsibility all this while, HS will show them dust.

It has to be noted that parents at the back of beyond are going to find it hard since most of them are not learned.

 Also, poor families with no access to books, school supplies and wifi will be hard-hit.

For children it is even harder... School gives children an opportunity to interact with others as they learn.

Creative teachers are able to use learner-centred pedagogies to help learners acquire knowledge in a relaxed and even partially playful atmosphere. This is the first thing that parents need to be cognisant of. That, their children do not see their friends and teachers, is stressful and replacing teacher with mum/dad is even worse.

The way children’s minds work is such that as they grow up, they attribute different roles to different people in their lives. They for instance, know the role of the Pastor, Sunday school teacher, parent, doctor, aunts and uncles. And there is no substitution! That is why PI is important for it makes the parent the home-teacher. This is going to be critical in the take-off stage.

Teaching is communication not instruction. Parents need to know that children are allowed to say NO at school and their no is respected. Thus, the, my house, my rules approach is not going to work. It will only cause a stalemate and learning does not happen in such an environment.

Teaching happens in a pattern. That is there is a schedule that is followed, what teachers call ‘scheme of work’. Skills and or topics are arranged in a manner that is friendly to the mind. Parents therefore, have to ensure that they contact teachers so that they know exactly what pattern to follow.

HOW MANY HOURS PER DAY?

Depending on the child’s ability and learning style, the parent can encourage them to do their work faster so that they spend time doing what they like.

Pre-school: 1 hour

Standards 1-3: 2 hours

Standards 3-6: 4 hours

Standards 7–Form 2: 7 hours

Form 3–5: 8 hours

Personal education, personal reading time and or study time should not be counted amongst these hours.

Also, a child’s focus and enthusiasm dictates the amount of time the parent/teacher spends with them.

The hours have to be divided according to subjects, there has to be a five-minute break between the subjects.

For pre-school and lower primary children, reading should not exceed 20 minutes. High fliers can only go to 30 minutes, not more.

Children are different in their learning abilities and concentration span. However, you can sense when it is time for a break, also when they are ready to go back to schoolwork. It is going to be difficult though, for parents because they are lay when it comes to teaching. More active children (kinesthetics), cannot sit still for a long time. Activities thus have to be structured such they include “doing and movement”.

Though hours are important, what should really matter is the quality of work.

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If your child can complete their task in two hours, why force them to take four? The remaining hours can be used for personal reading or extra work. This means that if a child is a fast learner, the parent should always have extra activities set aside.

 

Tips on how to organise the day

Organisation is a means of functioning effectively and efficiently! If fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Here are some edited tips from home schooling specialists:

 

1. Identify each child’s needs.

Personalise the needs of each child. Start by identifying your child’s needs in academics, social, physical, relationships and other skills. This will largely depend on how involved you are in the child’s formal schooling.

 

2. Locate curriculum, supplies.

To teach, you are going to need lesson planning, sample schedules.  Set aside time to look through each potential curriculum or plan. Spending time studying each prospective book will help you avoid wasting time and money on books that do not fit your goals or your child’s learning style. Ask teachers for assistance on which books to buy.

 

3. Recall and core subjects first.

Place these core subjects first in the schedule. Place troublesome or remedial subjects first in the day. Below is a skeleton of a schedule that can work. Customise your own.

Sample Daily Schedule. Personalise for your family.

8-11am - Recall, Math, Grammar/Vocab/Spelling, Music

11am Snack time

11am- 2pm - Science, Writing, History

2pm-4pm - Reading individually. Game time (play games with them)

Recall is important as it helps the child shelf the information learnt the previous day.

4. Protein snack or lunch.

A protein snack bolsters physical and mental energy for an extended morning and potential prolonged work in morning hours. Most children (even adults) feel sleepy and sluggish after lunch. Since the efficiency of morning work lengthens with a protein snack and delayed lunchtime, this is a great strategy. Most of the time the protein snack fills them up leaving less interest for much lunch.

 

5. Post a daily schedule for each child above his/her desk.

After discussing your child’s personal academic plan, devise a daily and weekly routine to ensure success. Type this plan and post it above his work area. Regularly encourage your child to read over this plan out loud.

 

6. Don’t let the ‘schedule’ put you in a noose. 

Think of a planned schedule as a routine. Keep going even if it starts later or something interrupts. Life is unpredictable. Just making an effort to complete the tasks you have deemed important for this day will guarantee success. Do the day in the order that you planned. The ‘list’ should not be your ruler, just your guide. Sorting everything onto a plan allows one to focus on one thing at a time knowing that the important things are all arranged systematically.

 

7. Stay current on grading. 

This is much easier said than done. Start with instruction for the new lessons, then do grading and guide children through corrections. Schedule grading into your every day. Rotate subjects.

Maybe one day you grade through all the math books while the next day you grade the language and spelling. If for instance, children are at the same level, say junior secondary, they can grade each other’s work provided they have the marking key.

Plan to work and then work your plan.

ALL THE BEST!



Educationally Speaking

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