Europe currently has to tackle a second wave of COVID-19 infections, and in some countries a second round of school closures is being discussed. The US seems to be tied up in one long lasting wave and some Asian countries like Indonesia haven’t allowed the schools to reopen for more than eight months.
And even if the schools will be allowed to reopen, we have to expect selective school closures and quarantine regulations in order to get local outbreaks under control. Like it or not, we have to face the fact that school and work life have changed and that online schooling scenarios will be reality in the nearer future.
A research by the Unesco Education Centre at Ulster University (UU) revealed that a majority of parents found homeschooling "stressful and challenging" during the pandemic. To help you and your kids master online schooling, we have put together a few tips to keep the motivation up.
Routine, routine, routine: That’s what real school life is all about. When they are in school, the daily life of kids is structured accurately: Getting up early, getting to school, getting through school, enjoying a bit of freetime and going to bed early. It sounds boring, but for most kids, having a clear structure is very helpful, also during online schooling.
Try to apply a clear structure for your kid’s virtual school days, with fixed times for meals, breaks and work. It might also be helpful to establish fun routines that have nothing to do with school: Plan in time for reading a book together or playing board games or doing physical exercise. As most kids like predictability, you might consider going through the time plan of the following day each evening before bedtime.
Get support from a professional tutor: Of course, kids need more support from their parents during online schooling times, especially younger students. However, for many families, the constellation of acting as a parent AND as a teacher at the same time can become difficult. While kids might happily take advice and feedback from “real teachers”, they don’t want to listen to their parents explaining them school stuff. Bad mood and fights at home are the least you need as a family during online schooling times. A professional tutor will be perceived as a “real” teacher from the kids. Many kids learn faster and with a much higher level of motivation than with their own parents. Find out more information about tutoring options at A for Effort.
Ban non relevant electronic devices: We all know how difficult it is to stay concentrated when you sit in front of a screen. Especially when all the chit chat with family and friends happens mainly digitally via Social Media and messengers. Especially for kids this can be heavily distracting. It helps if all electronic and digital devices that are not needed during home schooling are switched off or muted or even banished from the room. On the device that is used for homeschooling, all programs and apps that are not necessary should be switched off. It might take you a bit of work to persuade your kid with this idea, but we are sure that he or she will agree if they give it a try.
Be proud of your kids. And show them: That’s not a big secret and it goes for adults as well as for kids: A reward for something you have done well is the best motivation to continue and maybe become even better. Rewarding your kid during normal times is a good thing - and we believe it’s even more important during times like these. The pandemic has brought insecurity and vulnerability into our lives. Kids of all ages sense this. This affects not only their daily life and their routines, especially when the schools are closed. They also might have to deal with thoughts and fears they probably haven’t encountered before. That’s why we believe: It’s more important than ever to listen to our kids. And it’s totally okay to be even more generous with rewarding our kids during these times. They are already doing a great job with coping with this situation and we can be proud about them.
Take breaks seriously: A virtual school day can be exhausting. Several video calls with a bunch of babbling classmates, with one or the other technical problem, and with all the assignments that need to be done. That’s why we believe that breaks to switch off and regenerate the brain and thoughts are super important for any kid. Especially younger kids might need the help of parents with planning and keeping their breaks. During online schooling a perfect break includes a snack, some physical activity - but not even more screen time. If you as a parent are working from home also, this is the perfect chance for some quality time with your kids.
Let’s not sugarcoat things: Forced homeschooling is difficult for everyone involved - the kids, the parents and also the teachers. But we all made it so far and we can be proud about that. And the good thing is: No school kid that went through the last eight months will probably ever say: “I don’t want to go to school today” ever again.