Expert advice for surviving another round of remote learning

BE KIND: Remote learning can be hard. Picture: Shutterstock
BE KIND: Remote learning can be hard. Picture: Shutterstock

Lockdown. Remote learning. Balancing work with supervising kids' study. It's all no easier the second or third time around, and many parents are experiencing 'lockdown fatigue'.

Sonja Walker, founder and director of the northern beaches-based Kids First Children's Services, said the uncertainty about the length of this lockdown is "raising the temperature" for families.

"Mums and dads are trying to meet the demands of work, and the demands of homeschooling, and the children are watching. They're looking to us to be a kind of calm in the storm."

But there are some small changes parents can make to help balance their competing priorities and make lockdown learning more manageable.

1. Create a visual schedule

With no school to keep kids in a regular routine, Sonja recommends parents get together in the morning with their kids to create a "visual schedule." Using a whiteboard or large sheet of paper, parents and their kids can plan out the day and break it down into small, manageable chunks.

"They're fantastic for your children because there's no need to talk, the kids can simply look at the pictures or dot points on the white board and they know what's coming next, and when they'll have a break," she explains.

2. Change locations up

Sonja says children can get restless sitting for long periods of time in the one spot. She said all children, but especially those with learning difficulties, can benefit from a change in scenery when it comes to study spots.

"Children who struggle from things like ADHD really benefit from movement, so allow those children to stand up at the kitchen bench to do their work, or to take them outside and let them sit on the balcony or in the backyard. They often need things to activate their core strength, so even allowing them to lie on their stomach, with their elbows up, gives their body that movement they need."

3. Make chill out spaces

Not everyone has a backyard or a big home with lots of separate rooms. Sonja says for people living in apartments or smaller homes creating a "chill out space" can be as simple as making a classic blanket fort.

"When you're in a situation where space is tight, creating little ways to separate from one another is important. Things like putting a blanket over a table, letting them have a little bit of a cubby."

4. Be kind to yourself

Between work commitments, household duties, supervising remote learning and finding time for themselves, parents have a lot on the plate at the moment. Teachers understand parents are struggling and do not expect children to be able to accomplish the same things they would be able to in a classroom setting, says Sonja.

"Remember that you're not a teacher and no one's asking you to be one. We want families to be their children's cheer squads, not their personal trainers."

5. Reach out for help

Everyone's under a lot of pressure in these uncertain times and parents may not be able to manage on their own. Sonja says parents and parenting communities should focus on uplifting each other. There is professional support out there for parents who need it and no-one should feel ashamed for reaching out for help.

"Sometimes all it takes is tiny little tweaks, and parents will say 'why didn't I think of that.' That's because you're in the middle of the emotional bubble that is going on, and everyone has a different end date for lockdown, it just makes it more stressful. Very small things can make a huge difference."

What are your strategies for helping your kids learn remotely? Send a letter to the editor at: editor@northernbeachesreview.com.au

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