School Closures: Tips For Home Learning

Parents of primary schoolchildren across Hong Kong are facing a return to school closures – and two weeks ahead without the routine and daily structure of school. How will we cope and what is the best way to face this challenge? Our Editorial team have some top tips for keeping everyone in your household energised and positive.
School Closures: Tips For Home Learning
By Carli Allan
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With kindergartens and primary schools closed in Hong Kong over the coming weeks, many parents will be facing taking a lead in their child’s education with some trepidation.

Our editorial team, parents and ex-teachers amongst us, have the following tips for keeping children engaged, learning and the whole family feeling positive and energised as the four week school closures unfold.

First and Foremost: Role Model Resilience

The word resilience is a constant theme in education today, and one of the very best ways for our children to learn to be resilient is to see the adults around them role model it! We are living in unprecedented times…that is certain, however the old truism ‘change is the only constant’ holds fast.

Our children will themselves face uncertain, challenging times in their own lives, and one positive way to look at the present moment is that it is an opportunity to give our children a template for managing change and facing challenge.

Embrace the positives (our thoughts: more time as a family, growing independence in managing their school work, self-reliance and the chance to self-direct their learning) and talk to your children about the challenges in a way that tells them that you are confident society will overcome whatever we face today.

Give your child time to express their anxieties, no matter what their age. Even the very youngest children are likely to have absorbed the knowledge that something, somewhere is making people sick. Try not to avoid their anxieties or downplay concerns for this is only likely to amplify them.

Remember that as adults, our own instant access to news media is an avenue to answer our concerns about Covid-19, but for our children we, the parents, represent the main and most reliable source of information.

Structure the Day

Have a home timetable. Of course, there’s so many reasons schools have a timetable, but we can’t stress how much we think you will need one too.  Plan your home learning time now and agree it with your children.  It's a binding contract then, kids! Whatever way your school chooses to implement online, home learning, there will be undoubtedly be more hours of the day to fill and more flexibility in your child’s time.

Your home learning timetable might not be complicated but we think it will help everyone to regain learning momentum and embrace some structure.

Having an effective plan for home learning time heads off potential conflict before it can begin. We’re quite certain the last thing any parent wants is a two-week long battle against screen time… Plan ahead to avoid that battle!

What WSA Recommends

Outdoor time is vital. Schedule it! We know working parents are facing huge challenges, but whatever childcare arrangements your family is able to come to, we truly believe that finding time for daily outdoor time is vital to everyone’s mental health and physical wellbeing, especially during an extended period at home.

The schools are may be closed but the great outdoors is not! So whether it is shaking your child out of bed for an early morning dog walk before you leave for work, encouraging new ball games in the garden or having outdoor reading and study time for older teens…it is all vital. Not least for the daily dose of vitamin D, so essential for our immune systems. By scheduling time outside, especially early on in the day, we set the entire household up for positive, energised day.

Schedule reading time. If there is one gainful way to fill our children’s extra at home days, it’s READING. Many schools will have a list of suggested texts by year group. Ask them for it now. Audiobooks are a great option if you are working and not around to read to your young child.

Whatever age our child is, having a selection of new and interesting books ready to go will be a great asset in the coming weeks. Bonus: we guarantee your child’s teacher will be thankful if you report consistent reading at home.

What else...?

Communicate with your school. Whenever WSA talks to schools and teachers, whatever the topic, the message we get is that communication is key. Never more so than now. If your child appears to be struggling with online learning, talk to your teacher. If you are struggling with supporting their online learning – do the same! You cannot be supported by your school if you do not communicate with them. Give them a heads up if you need help.

Create a calm space for home learning. It really doesn’t need to be a huge space, but somewhere distraction free and set aside for learning is essential. Ideally somewhere where you can join your child and support them in their studies where you can.  

Have resources ready.  By which we mean a constant internet connection and an even steadier stream of snacks!  Joking aside, older students will need a laptop, PC or (possibly) a tablet.  Check with your school.  For younger children, now is the time to hoard cardboard and old milk bottles for junk modelling and to stock up on paints, crayons and playdoh.  

What challenges do you anticipate at home in the coming weeks? Share your thoughts, ideas and tips with [email protected], and we'll pass the best ones on to other parents!

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