5 tips to help your child with homeschool in Melbourne Lockdown
As a qualified and experienced teacher (and mum!), I have 5 tips on how to prioritize what matters most for your kids and how to best manage their homeschool experience.
1. Maintain a routine for your work schedule and homeschooling.
Setting up a routine for the work / homeschool day will regulate your body clock, minimise frustration and keep everyone organised and on schedule. As tempting as it is to sleep in and spend the day in your pyjamas, getting up at the usual school and work times and getting dressed sets everybody up for a productive day.
One of the best principals I had the pleasure of working for always made a point of ensuring "professional dress" was worn by both staff and children at school. This made everything "business as usual" and resulted in increased behaviour and focus in the classroom. Even one of Melbourne's most well known Melbourne Mum influencers, Bec Judd, has been dressing her children in their school uniforms while doing homeschool at home in lockdown. As parents we need to maintain the idea that school and life is continuing as normal (in this abnormal situation).
The unpredictable situation of Melbourne's Covid-19 lockdown creates a level of anxiety in our every day life. We can gain some level of control back in our lives by implementing a routine to the homeschool day. Planning our time in such a way means we can focus on our children’s schoolwork and activities as well as allowing us to fulfil our work commitments.
Children should have a clear picture of what their homeschool day ahead looks like and what activities they are going to finish – just like they would in the classroom. Think about their day at school- it revolves around STRUCTURE - there are set lesson times, set times for fun, and set food/ break times.
Breaks are an important part of any routine - children must be given an opportunity to engage in physical activities and have some healthy snacks to keep their brains fuelled and focused.
Many Melbourne schools are incorporating a daily school routine by requiring children to check in online at set times throughout the day. If this hasn't been an option - you can always seek advice and support from their teacher so that your home routine matches one they would usually follow.
If you haven't already, I would recommend writing up a "homeschool timetable" chart with your kids that sets out the plan for the day. We do this in my house with our Creative Sprout set of 72 Routine Cards, which we set out at the beginning of each day so that no surprises can disrupt our routine and lead to frustration and potential meltdowns.
2. Give your child an appropriate space to work on their homeschooling tasks.
In the classroom, your child is provided with a chair and table / desk. Ensure your homeschool routine also includes this - so they are seated in an ergonomic fashion and have all of their school equipment, technology and books in the same space. If you have young children, a homeschool room or dedicated area may be a great way to keep distractions at a minimum and lets them know that when they are in this room/area it is time to do school work. Everything stays in one spot which makes it easier to keep track of books, supplies, and projects.
Is your house noisy with other siblings or parents on work phone calls? Give your child the best chance to concentrate by providing them with their own set of headphones. These can be linked up to their laptop or tablet, allowing them to engage better with the teacher and their online instructions, while also minimising external distractions.
We love our Ems for Kids Audio Bluetooth Headphones - they are cordless, connect through bluetooth, block out some background noise, and have a speaker limit of 85DB to protect their ears from hearing damage!
3. Provide your child with tools to help them focus on their school work - reduce stress and boredom while homeschooling.
Did you ever chew on your pen, chatter to your friends or find yourself daydreaming through the window during class? Motivation and concentration is even harder for our kids in homeschool - who are being asked to sit at home with a computer screen rather than engage in face to face interaction with their teacher and peers.
Research has shown the benefits of sensory fidget toys on learning. Fidgeting is our body’s way of releasing restless energy. Common types of fidgeting include foot tapping, hair twirling or nail biting. While many consider these activities counterproductive to learning, many experts state that if these fidgeting behaviors can be re-directed, they can actually enhance learning.
Fidget toys are self-regulation tools to help with focus, attention, calming, and active listening. There are many different types of fidget toys, ranging from squeezable stress balls to bendable sticks to malleable putty. In recent months however, fidget spinners and fidget cubes have become very popular items among not only children but adults as well.
Regardless of the type of toy used, the goal is the same – to help focus attention and improve learning ability. In fact, research indicates that most children learn better when their hands are active and funneling expandable energy in this manner allows them to better focus on what they are trying to learn. In addition, experts have concluded that movement is essential for learning because the learner is required to use both the left and right sides of their brain.
Here are a few fidget toys which may help your child focus during their lesson time.
Chewable Pencil Topper to relieve frustration and anxiety.
Research has shown that chewing can help with concentration and keep children calm in situations that may be stressful or boring. Our chewable pencil toppers by Jellystone Designs can provide a solution to help your child concentrate, stay engaged and self regulate their emotions when doing school work.
Add a Sensory Cushion to their Homeschool Chair.
Many teachers have reported that a sensory cushion / wiggle seat helps prevent restless children from feeling the urge to get up from their seat by helping them stay more focused on the task at hand. The wiggle seat works by allowing the child to readjust and move themselves on top of the seat in a discreet and quiet manner, using up restless energy and strengthening their core muscles at the same time.
The Senseez Vibrating Cushion can provide comfort, calm and focus for your child. It has a plush minky feel which is good for sensory, tactile touch. The cushion is helpful for children who find deep pressure and massage input calming and comfortable. Vibration can support tactile sensitivity differences and attention during play and other tasks where concentration is required.
Provide sensory fidget toys to fiddle with while completing online homeschooling.
We have a hand picked collection of sensory fidget toys that your child can discreetly use while sitting at their school work station. Fidget toys can be used to provide sensory input in a minimally distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extra sensory information
The amazing combination of a fidget, a weight and repetitive movement is rolled into one with our Kaiko Infinity Hand Roller Fidget. Your child can quietly rotate it in their hand, helping them improve focus and stay calm.
Our newest addition to our school fidget range is the Foot Fidget Deskerciser. Turn the school chair into a sensory learning chair! The Deskerciser Fidget Kick Band by Abilitations provides the perfect solution for fidgeters who find it difficult to sit still in their seat. With an adjustable buckle strap, the deskerciser can be put around either the legs of a chair or a desk. Lightweight and portable, the deskerciser becomes an instant sensory movement tool for children with fidgety legs and those who crave sensory input while seated.
Weighted Lap Pad Blanket - to sit on lap while completing homeschool tasks,
Research has shown a weighted lap pad can increase concentration and performance at school, work, or home. It applies a gentle therapeutic pressure on the body - which provides a comforting 'grounded' feeling. This helps release tension and stress, allowing the person to focus on the task at hand.
4. Make the mental wellbeing of you and your children the top priority whilst in Melbourne's lockdown!
Don’t feel guilty if you can’t give your children enough of your time or exciting activities every day while we are in Melbourne's lockdown. Communicate with their teachers and other parents to learn about alternative techniques and arrangements of how to tackle homeschool tasks. It's important to be flexible with their routines and be realistic about what can be achieved.
This may include skipping the "optional activities" or focusing on only the literacy and maths lessons one or two days of the week. Factor in break times and snack times. Have healthy snacks accessible throughout the day, such as fruit, cheese, yoghurt and crackers which educators have labelled as important "brain food."
5. Make sure there is some rest and relaxation in the homeschooling day.
Creating time where the family can spend quality family time together, even just to enjoy a movie, walk or board game, can boost everyone's mood and give us the energy to finish work and homeschool commitments.
In our free time, we should enjoy moments with our children without the pressure of school work or learning goals.
Don't forget that a child's day also involves physical activity in the school yard or Sport lessons. Make sure you get them outside to a playground, the backyard, or the footpath for some much needed physical exercise at least once a day.
Encourage some relaxation time through some yoga on the mat, a mindful walk or some breathing exercises. Our Calm Mindfulness Flashcards provide plenty of ways to teach your child to be more mindful and calm.
The main take home point is that you are doing your best. Children are resilient - and with your unwavering support, their academic progress will continue to improve while doing their homeschooling under your guidance.
I hope this has given you some tools and strategies to consider as you continue on your Melbourne homeschooling journey.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
0451 347 047
Bentleigh VIC 3204
by appointment only