Resources for Parents to Support Learning at Home
Parents are children’s first teachers, and many parents are now in that position – literally. Below are some suggestions for how parents can support the learning of their children while at home. First and foremost, valuable learning does not have to be in a ‘classroom’ and students don’t have to be in a ‘school’ to be taught important skills.
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Children with complex needs may have a particularly difficult time coping with this sudden change, and that also asks a lot of parents. The focus for learning will need to be different for everyone and, for some, that learning may focus on simply adjusting to the new normal, following simple routines, managing emotions, learning self-regulation strategies, or practicing a life skill such as tying shoes, cooking, or simple household chores. This is all important learning, so parents should embrace what they can and take it one step at a time.
Routine is helpful for most people. Children will be more likely to feel safe and secure in these uncertain times if there is a consistent plan for their learning that they have helped to create. Parents are encouraged to make a schedule with their children and post it in a visible area; this way everyone has the same expectations. However, parents should not feel that their entire schedule has to be focused only on school work. Parents should also plan for relaxation and family time.
All homes are different and each have challenges when trying to organize learning activities. When and where possible, parents should identify areas where children can learn in the best possible way, such as using a kitchen for cooking, a table for drawing or writing, a garage for exploring mechanics, a comfy chair/floor for reading, and the yard or land for exploring outdoors. If possible, parents should try to set up any available technology such as Wi-Fi access, email addresses to communicate with teachers, and set reasonable rules around screen time, instant messaging, video calls and online games.
Parents should understand that it is okay for children to have increased screen time during this unprecedented time; however, they should still be aware of what their children are doing online and ensure they understand basic internet safety rules.
For children in Grades JK-6, play is very important. For children in Grades 7-9, building and sorting out friendships is key, so if technology is available, video-calling, Facetime, texting and communicating online is likely a very important part of their day. For young adults in Grades 10-12, accessing a quiet space to complete assignments is going to be important. Parents should be mindful of the different needs of students and do their best to be flexible and open to different learning options. Remember to read, laugh, share stories, explore new things, and get outside while following social distancing guidelines. Being on the land, taking in fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for everyone.