Teaching at Home: Tips for Parents

Most parents have suddenly been faced with the challenge of managing their children’s education from home. From a lack of resources, to a lack of ideas, to a lack of knowledge on effective homeschooling techniques – or just a lack of patience! Parents are struggling to keep up with schoolwork set by teachers to be done at home, or with the questions and concerns of their own children, regardless of the time and effort that teachers have been putting into providing the necessary support for teaching at home. 

It’s important to remember that the goal of teaching at home during lockdown isn’t to replace schooling in its entirety, but to maintain some form of routine, keep kids busy, ensure variety in their day and facilitate ongoing learning. 

We had a look at what practiced homeschoolers have to say on how to teach your kids at home. Here are their 7 top bits of advice:


1. Don’t panic!

Go easy on yourself and your child – this is the first time either of you is doing anything like this and you were thrown into this situation without much time to get your head around it. It’s okay to make mistakes, to not enjoy every minute of it, or to not know what you’re doing all the time. Reach out to groups who have experience with this, ask your friends for ideas on how they’re managing their own children’s education, and read advice from experts. 


2. Deschooling

This is a popular homeschooling concept. Your kids (and you!) need to unlearn that education needs to happen in a certain way, at a certain time. It’s okay to let your child follow their interests – this will make less work for you, and they will learn while they’re doing it. Now isn’t the time to recreate a strict classroom environment and schedule! Teaching at home gives you the option to be more flexible and allow your children to learn through experience.


3. Have a morning meeting

Have a check in with your child each morning to talk about their wellbeing, the schedule for the day, discuss the previous day’s work and any behavioural issues that may need to be addressed. This will also give you time to find out what they would like to learn about in a day, and help you with point 2! Ask your high school children about their specific needs – they are capable of directing their own learning, whereas primary school children need more interaction and socialization. (Is your child pre-primary or younger? Why not try our Little Sparkz?)


4. Accept screen time

Screen time is almost inevitable in the current situation. Making sure that some of this is educational, broadening your child’s mind and engaging their critical thinking skills. This doesn’t have to be hours in front of a YouTube video on Calculus – it can be time spent exploring the National Geographic Kids website, or a documentary on something that interests them. Likewise, spending time interacting with friends and family online is important for kids’ social development during this time.


5. Set realistic expectations

Your kids do not need to learn for 6-8 hours a day! Most homeschoolers learn for 3-4 hours per day at most, in between chores, being outside, reading and fun activities like watching TV. Set clear expectations on what you’d like to achieve in your morning meeting – and review and adjust these the following day. 


6. Follow your school’s guidelines – but be flexible

Your school may have set certain guidelines for activities to follow on a day to day basis while teaching at home. Fit these in around your own work commitments, your child’s energy levels and emotional state. Don’t forget that this is a stressful time for both parents and children, which is likely to take its toll on concentration and focus. 


7. Use online resources

There is a wealth of free, online resources available for you to make use of while teaching at home. Do so! Some of these will allow you to set your child up behind a computer or laptop and direct their own learning for an hour or two, while some may need more input from you. 


This article first appeared on www.brightsparkz.co.za