Coronavirus has upended our lives in so many ways. Home-schooling is one of the confusing systems that parents, children and schools, have had to navigate as part of the new normal.
During the recent A to Z Blogging Challenge, I penned my thoughts on the concept of home-schooling under lockdown. I encourage you to read that post after this one for a broader picture of home-schooling in India, especially in Delhi.
My son is 4 years old and is currently studying in Nursery at one of the premier international schools of Delhi. Hence, his school was better equipped to start online teaching than other schools in the Delhi government regime, and perhaps even ahead of other international institutions. Basically, Delhi schools were shut on the evening of March 5 and we began online lessons on March 6. This has given me plenty of time and opportunity to understand what this method of teaching entails.
I recently ran a poll over on my Instagram page asking if people would like tips on home-schooling little children, ages 6 and under, and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. So, here are 9 tips for successfully home-schooling children under age 6. Please bear in mind, these tips are applicable only to young children, as their concerns are unique and I don’t have experience of home-schooling older kids!
Here are the problems I’ve noticed with home-schooling so far:
- Younger children don’t stay attentive for long periods of time
- Excessive screen time is worrisome for parents
- Parents have to be involved with the lessons, which is difficult for those working from home and managing households
- Availability of gadgets may be an issue as parents juggle their laptops for work meetings as well as different classes, if there is more than one child
- Class timings are inconvenient for many reasons
However, I believe that home-schooling has its merits too.
Here’s why I think home-schooling younger children through the lockdown is essential:
- It encourages routine and structure, which will allow them to readjust to school life eventually
- It encourages routine and structure which helps in keeping them positive and mentally active
- It keeps your child’s educational journey running smoothly without breaks
- It eases the pressure off parents- at least a little!
- It allows children to stay in touch with their friends and helps in socialisation, even though in a simulated environment
Though online teaching and home-schooling are not the best methods of educating young children, they are a necessity in these times. If it’s a struggle for you, try these tips to make the experience as smooth as possible.
TIPS FOR HOME-SCHOOLING CHILDREN UNDER AGE 6:
- BE PATIENT
If there’s only one piece of advice you take from this post, make it this one. You need to be extra patient, super calm and particularly resilient when it comes to home-schooling little ones. They have not yet learnt the art of concentration, and in many cases, aren’t used to screens in general. You must deal with their tantrums and lack of attention with patience. Take a deep breath or log out of the class if you’re feeling really frustrated.
Further, if home-schooling is not working for your child or for you, then opt out of it. At such a young age, school curriculum is not the biggest education- life and the lessons imparted by happy parents are.
Try your best to make your children focus on lessons, but don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s not working out. Every child is different, every situation is unique.
- BE INVOLVED
Any method of online teaching, especially for little ones, can be successful only if the teachers and parents merge their roles together. This requires full-time involvement on the part of the parents. If you’re not sitting with your children through the lessons, and engaging in the activities with them, they are less likely to concentrate on the task at hand.
Both parents and possibly other family members can divide lessons amongst themselves, if it gets too much for one parent.
- KEEP COMMUNICATING WITH THE TEACHERS
If this is a new experience for you and for your children, it’s also new for the teachers. You will face problems of communication, quality and resourcefulness. However, it’s essential that you keep the conversation lines open with the teachers.
Refrain from taking your frustration out by yelling at them, but you may politely offer advice or constructive criticism.
For example, one of the problems we face is the frequent halting of the picture during lessons. I discovered that it happens less if the microphones of all children are kept off. Though we don’t have control over muting every participant, we requested the teacher to mute everyone, in order to make the lesson smoother and more appealing.
- WORK AROUND YOUR SCHEDULE
If you are working from home, you should skip the live lessons and view the recording with your child at a convenient time. This will ensure your involvement in the lesson, without cutting into your work hours and productivity. The same applies to home-makers as well!
However, make sure you communicate with the teachers about your child’s progress and keep sharing your child’s work.
- WORK AROUND YOUR CHILD’S PERSONALITY AND PREFERENCES
My son, though an early riser, dislikes being put in front of a screen first thing in the morning. Hence, we have been skipping the morning live lessons since a few weeks. Instead, we view its recording every afternoon and this simple change has worked wonders for us. I can pause the lesson at leisure and ask my son questions in an engaging manner, which allows him to remember what is taught to him.
Tweak the lessons as per your child’s personality and preferences. Be mindful of the hours of the day in which your child is most responsive and mentally active, and do the lessons at those times.
- KEEP CHANGING THE LOCATION WHERE YOU TAKE THE CLASSES, IF POSSIBLE
Simply changing up the location where you attend the class from one bedroom to another, helps in getting the little ones excited for lessons.
For example, whenever we have some sort of water play or paint involved in a lesson, we do it in the balcony. I often ask my son to decide the room he’d like to do the lesson in, which makes him excited to attend it.
- ENCOURAGE HEALTHY COMPETITION
For 4 and 5 year olds, there isn’t much you can do in terms of educational competition with their peers! However, when I encourage my son to say numbers faster than others, or respond with the correct answer before other kids, he stays more focused and attentive throughout the lesson.
Bear in mind, we are usually on mute and the teachers and children aren’t listening to his answers. However, he feels that he has accomplished something, which is most important in this situation.
- DON’T YELL AT/ PUNISH YOUR CHILDREN
I must confess that I have yelled at my son and instantly regretted it, which made me realise it’s not worth the anguish caused to either of us. Little children are far more likely to concentrate on their lessons and thrive academically through appreciation rather than punishment.
Refer to point 1 above and just be patient with them instead.
- APPRECIATE THE SMALL ACHIEVEMENTS AND OFFER REWARDS
Don’t shy away from encouraging and lauding every attempt to answer a question, even if the answer is incorrect. It will make your child more focused and ready to answer more questions. Sometimes, if your child is really distracted, you could offer a little reward in exchange for concentration during the lesson.
Consciously celebrate the weekends as lesson-free days. Though it may sound counter-productive, it ensures a sense of normalcy essential to your child’s return to regular schooling eventually.
These are the 9 broad tips that have helped us get through online home-schooling so far. There are only two weeks before summer vacations, but with no cure in sight and social distancing norms likely to stay in place till a vaccine is announced, home-schooling seems here to stay.
Let me know your tips for home-schooling little children. Please share this article with someone that may find it useful. If you like my content, please subscribe to my website and let me know what else you’d like to read from me!
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