“Dear Lord, I am a loving parent and a hardworking person. But I am not a teacher.”
Sound familiar? Namibia’s schools aren’t set to resume face-to-face teaching until at least June 2020. So how do we go about teaching our children at home? Whether your children are in pre-school or finishing matric, there are basic things you can put in place to get your days to run a bit smoother. We have compiled a list of top tips for you!
ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE
Treat every day as you would during ‘normal’ times. Wake everyone up at the same time each day, have breakfast, get dressed – this familiar series of actions sets the tone for a productive day. But still be flexible. Why flexible? That brings me to the next tip.
ISOLATION SCHOOLING IS NOT HOMESCHOOLING
Education doesn’t need to happen within a rigid framework. Jen Garrison, advocacy chair of the Washington Homeschool Organization says you don’t need to keep your children busy with schoolwork for hours on end each day. Even in a classroom setup, they have time for breaks, switching classes, and socializing. Be strict with bigger children on the work they need to focus on each day, and then let them do it at their own pace. Sarah Cole, a seasoned home-school mom, says if you spend 15 minutes with three different subjects, you can consider that as a success. Being flexible with your routine and the chunks of time you spend on schoolwork will also make it easier for parents to get through their own work.
DISCIPLINE AND BEHAVIOUR MANAGEMENT
Everyone is feeling a bit out of sorts with the new schedule. Especially smaller children may not understand where the new boundaries are in this new routine. Be clear with consequences for certain actions, and consider a points system to reward positive behaviour. Be very clear about what is allowed and what isn’t. It’s not okay to keep bothering dad when he’s working on the computer. It is perfectly fine to take a break from your schoolwork to play for a while.
FEED AND WATER YOUR KIDS OFTEN
Children, especially young ones, become notoriously cranky when they are thirsty or hungry because they become dehydrated and their blood sugar levels drop. And they might not yet be able to identify that they need food or a drink. Keep water within reach all the time, and set an alarm mid-morning and mid-afternoon to hand out snacks.
KEEP YOUR KIDS MOVING
Physical activity is directly linked to a child’s ability to learn. Going out for a walk or run each day is ideal, but it’s not the only way to get your child moving. The Mind Moves Institute specializes in getting students moving in ways that are scientifically proven to improve their learning. You can find short videos of specific movements to do with your kids on their Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeLmHQ6yQKXDFolpLbAVx4Q
BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
Not every day is going to be great. Successfully homeschooling a child can take years of practice, and even then there are daily challenges. We are not set up to work and school from home at the same time. So if you lose your cool, or your children really aren’t in the emotional space to get through their work on a given day, it is okay! Talk about the challenges each of you is facing, and how you can help each other overcome them.