Parents preparing to home school their children need to relax and steer away from replicating a school day, experts say.
In the past 24 hours since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced schools would close almost immediately for most a number of home schooling groups have popped up on Facebook as parents get their heads around home schooling their children.
But Hastings Intermediate principal and New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Perry Rush had some strong advice for parents and said it was crucial learning at home was not made to be stressful.
“It’s not a time of pressure and expectation and confrontation around the need to get your work done because if there is, there’s going to be no pleasure, no enjoyment and real no learning taking place.
“Our kids are worried and it’s our job to make sure we can support them, we can love them as parents and we can create an environment where they can get on and full their day with languages, words, numbers and colour and paint and construction, activity and play and questions and debate. These are the core ideas at the heart of powerful learning.”
He warned parents against replicating what they thought happened at school and instead work with the advice of the schools who were quickly working to but together online resources for when term two started on April 14.
In the meantime they could enjoy the newly brought forward holidays.
“Once we’ve spent a bit of time doing that we will start to see the pace pick up as the holidays start to conclude and we start those first two weeks of next term which traditionally would have been the school holiday period.”
Cynthia Hancox, who is a government liaison for the National Council of Home Educators and home schooled for more than 20 years, said the most important thing was parents focusing on children feeling loved and safe.
Hancox said home schooling implied a choice with preparation, resources and process and as this was not the case parents should instead focus on doing fun things with their children and not put pressure on themselves.
“I would focus on reading stories, playing games, exploring the backyard, letting them ask questions and helping them find answers,” she said.
“You kids aren’t going to get behind – it just doesn’t work that way. And if they talk to their children, read with their children, if they explore stuff together they are going to be learning anyway. They may look back on this actually as a fun time when they actually got more of mum and dad’s attention than they would normally get.”
Hancox said compiling a list of activities such as puzzles, reading, games and chores for kids was a good way of addressing their boredom claims and quickly made them realise how many things there were for them to do.
Twinkl country manager Claire Sparks, whose company provides educational resources primarily to teachers, said instead parents should first put the wellbeing of their child before any education.
Sparks said parents taking on the teacher role should let their children take the lead and talk about what they want to learn.
Parents shouldn’t expect to be teaching non-stop between 9am to 3pm and any focused learning carried out at home could be achieved within one to two hours, she said.
“Everything else should be learning through play, learning through helping with baking, helping with some chores. Snuggling together and reading.”
Parents also did not need to be doing hands-on teaching the entire time and could set up children with online resources to do independently.
There was a range of resource available online and her own company Twinkl was offering a month’s free access using the code NZLTWINKLHELPS for home learning packs for school closures tailored for New Zealand kids.
Tips for home schooling your children during isolation:
1. Emotional wellbeing of child is far more important than their education right now
2. Let your children lead the learning
3. Participate in focused learning for one to two hours a day
4. Remember learning can be done through play
5. Don’t put pressure on yourself