The Education Bureau of Hong Kong recently announced the closure of all schools until at least mid-March as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 and now parents find themselves facing an unexpected and staggering challenge: how to maximise their children’s learning in this unstable period.
While the idea of studying at home sounds appealing—doing schoolwork in your pyjamas, completing assignments on the sofa, for example—there are also many distractions awaiting the kids. Here are a few tips and strategies to efficiently create a structured environment for home-learning to make sure your little ones aren’t falling behind.
Before the kids actually get going with their home-learning session, make sure they have all the books, materials, and stationery they might need. There’s nothing worse than getting started on a task only to find out that you’re missing essential tools or materials. By investing a little time into their pre-study preparation, children don’t have to break their focus and look around the house for a highlighter or go digging around the e-learning platform for instructions.
Helps your kids plan out their study goals for each day, such as how many pages to read or what topics to cover within a designated timeslot. If they need more structure, create a study calendar with them and plot down their tasks. This way, as a parent, you can also have a daily or weekly overview of what needs to be achieved. Completing these goals will also help the kids feel accomplished and help them stick to the routine.
Studying around the clock never guarantees the best results. Every person and child has an optimal study time when their brain is working at maximum efficiency, whether it’s in the morning or later at night. Outside of having to tune into mandatory e-learning and online classrooms, find time windows that work best for the kids and take advantage of them so their brains retain the information they’re studying.
Now that your children have set their study goals and you have helped them identify their optimal study times, use a timer to help keep track and make sure they stick to the home-learning timetable they’ve created. Setting a timer helps keeps them focused and committed to home-learning until the timer goes off for the next task.
When you are helping the kids put together a study schedule, make sure that they are setting realistic and achievable goals for each session. Don’t plan ambitious home-learning sessions and cram in materials that children actually can’t fully absorb within the limited time period, or draw out their study sessions to go on for hours and hours. Children could end up missing vital information due to fatigue and waste the time spent studying!
Whether it’s the kitchen table or the coffee table in the living room, designating a space in a central area for studying purposes is of the utmost importance. You want to be able to supervise the process and set up a structured environment, so separating the child’s home-learning space from their off-school areas is essential. Encourage them to keep their study space clean and organised, and enforce a no-phone zone for the study period.
If the kids are struggling with a particular section on their study topic, have them take a break and reach out to their teachers or classmates to help them work through the problems. While a structured home-learning environment is crucial, it’s also necessary to be flexible and let the kids take a breather when they are feeling stuck. Engage and check-in to see what they are struggling with and if you can support and help them understand.
The kids have been working hard and putting a lot of effort into making home-learning as successful as can be—it’s only right that they should be rewarded. Plan in a little treat or snack for them for each big topic they cover and let them have some fun or playtime between their study sessions.
All work and no play makes Jack a cranky, miserable boy. If the kids are feeling bogged down, it’s time for a break. Scheduling frequent breaks helps children stay refreshed during their study time and also encourages them to switch off at the end of their long home-learning day. Implement a hard cut-off time for daily studies to give them something to look forward to!
Throughout it all, the best thing to do is keep focusing on the end goal and not to lose momentum. While circumstances are difficult and uncertain at the moment, by encouraging a normal and structured environment, you are influencing your children to cope with anxieties regarding the coronavirus. If parents seem overly
worried, children may panic. Help them acknowledge their concerns, teach them positive preventative measures, talk with them about their fears, and give them a sense of control over their risk of infection. Let’s wrap up with some tips on how to keep yourself sanitised and protected, courtesy of artist Weiman Kow.