The current pandemic has upended family life around the world. School closures, working remotely, physical distancing — it’s a lot to navigate for parents. Moreover, online classes, while effective, cannot replace 100% of the physical interactions between students and teachers in a regular setting, which is why experts recommend that parents maintain a teaching routine throughout the summer, to prepare in case a second lockdown should arise in the fall. This will help parents keep their children motivated in education, even when they are staying at home.

One of the main starting points that will help to get your child involved in learning outside the school environment is to introduce a so-called “digital quarantine”. This will most likely be necessary to keep your child’s attention focused on their schoolwork. You should limit their use of their devices, other than what is needed to complete their work until their schoolwork is done. If you choose, you can allow your child to play on a device during a designated break, but make them aware that they only have a limited amount of time until they need to get back to work.

Speak openly and freely with your child

Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress, so be patient and understanding. Start by inviting your child to talk about the issue. Find out how much they already know and follow their lead. Make sure you are in a safe environment and allow your child to talk freely. Drawing, stories and other activities may help to open a discussion.

Moreover, try not to minimize or avoid their concerns. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and assure them that it’s natural to feel scared about certain things. Demonstrate that you’re listening by giving them your full attention, and make sure they understand that they can talk to you and their teachers whenever they like. The Verita International School’s policy actually encourages this kind of interactions between parents, children, councilors and teachers, whenever needed.

Why a routine is helpful

Try to establish a routine that factors in age-appropriate education programs that can be followed online, on the television or through the radio. Also, factor in play time and time for reading. Use everyday activities as learning opportunities for your children. And don’t forget to come up with these plans together where possible. Specialists say that although establishing a routine and structure is critically important for children and young people, in these times you may notice your children need some level of flexibility. Which is why it is important to switch up your activities. If your child is seeming restless and agitated when you’re trying to follow an online learning program with them, flip to a more active option. Do not forget that planning and doing house chores together safely is great for development of fine and gross motor functions. Try and stay as attuned to their needs as possible.

Be patient and take your time

It is somewhat natural that adults who know a certain exercise, math problem or spelling test may sometimes lose patience with their children, as they themselves are navigating and trying to understand the requirements of any such exercise. Being patient, understanding and starting with shorter learning sessions, making them progressively longer is what many education specialists advise. If the goal is to have a 30- or 45-minute session, start with 10 minutes and build up from there. Within a session, combine online or screen time with offline activities or exercises, because this will keep the child interested and engaged.

Keep in close contact with the school

Any parent that wants to encourage their children to remain active from an educational viewpoint, even when the school is on holiday, should find out how to stay in touch with their children’s teacher or school to stay informed, ask questions and get more guidance. Parent groups or community groups can also be a good way to support each other with your home schooling.

For example, at our school there are several tools available, to which parents can resort to:

  • 1:1 Appointments – At Verita, the faculty believes in small class sizes to provide the 1:1 support that students need. From the onset of home learning, parents and students have been able to sign up for individual meetings if they have any questions or need support. In this regard, they can use homeroom teachers Google Appointment calendars, or arrange by email to meet with the school’s specialists when necessary.
  • Question and Answer Sessions – Verita has rolled out teacher question and answer sessions, where students can pop into a Google Meet at specific times to get feedback, ask questions, check-in, and/or get reminders for accountability. This was set up for students to have a consistent time to know that they can click in to catch up with their teachers.
  • Weekly Assemblies – Every Friday, the faculty are meeting with each year group to discuss big topics related to emotions, bravery, resilience, personal goals, and student learning.