Over the past few month, parents around the globe have been thrust into the role of support teacher for their children as many also juggle working from home or caring for smaller children or elderly members of their family. Whilst our Mentone Girls' Grammar students are provided with a variety of online resources, written worksheets and video calls, for our youngest students in Junior School, the activities require additional parental support to help them.
So, how can parents support their daughter in her studies whilst also maintaining everyone's wellbeing? Our Prep - Year 3 Coordinator, Leah Opie gives her top tips:
Create a study space for a conducive learning environment
An organised study space for young learners should include their school provided materials at easy reach with their pencils sharpened and ready, and lines ruled into books if needed. I have seen some great spaces whilst speaking to my students in the final week of Term 1 when we trialled online learning. Parents had even stuck learning charts and whiteboards onto walls for easy reference and access. We spoke to the girls about making their own special ‘office space’ and they were very excited to do this.
Ensure you have a chair and table of the correct height and size for your daughter as this will help in her handwriting and drawing tasks, and keep her spine healthy.
In school, we focus on clearing up our learning spaces between tasks so we have a clutter free table ready for our next activity. This is how we begin teaching good work habits for staying organised.
Learning online should be a blend of school and home life
We understand that many families are under additional stress at the moment, so the tasks your teacher is providing are designed to offer some links with school, but also to be manageable for families.
Young students obviously need more guidance than older ones, especially with reading instructions, focusing their attention and logging onto devices. My suggestion is to start your child off on an activity and then slowly move away as they begin to show they can do the rest independently. We understand you cannot be fully engaged in every task.
Tasks sent home by Junior School teachers are usually created under a daily heading with a variety of activities under the Maths, Literacy and Unit of Inquiry headers. We simply provide this as a guide for families. The design of the activity schedule aims to have a good range of tasks so the girls maintain energy and interest. Online videos and provocations in our blogs will focus on the scheduled tasks, however we like to offer some flexibility to families in how they see the tasks working best for their families.
Because we are house bound at the moment, it is likely that children will require many food, rest and physical activity breaks in between tasks. Make sure these are part of your routine each day, or the girls will become fatigued (as well as the parents!) and may become a little disengaged in the program of learning.
Remind your child that teachers are relying on them to listen
Sometimes with young children it is necessary to simply stop and take a break. You are the best judge of your own child and know their needs well. It is entirely normal for children to be reluctant to listen to their own parents when engaged in learning tasks. I am a teacher, yet my own two children do not want to be taught by me at home! It is a real struggle for all of us. My tip would be to remind them that their teachers are relying on them to listen and do their work. All of our Junior School teachers are happy to support parents in this challenge, so feel free to send an email to us and we can return an encouraging reminder to your daughter about her responsibilities while learning at home.
Read and re-read
Reading is the number one task we would encourage the girls to keep up at home. It is vital that young students keep the momentum up in their reading skills because it is such a rapid time of growth. This can include reading to your child, re-reading old favourites, her reading to you, accessing online texts and our Kerferd Library eBooks which the students can access through mConnect. There is a wealth of reading material out there to explore.
Numeracy and Literacy skills are important for the girls, but we also encourage families to allow the girls' time to experience life and enjoy time away from books or screens. Take breaks and utilise your home environment to engage your daughter. Cook with her, do the gardening, draw using chalk on the pavements outside, go for walks and use the environment to think of authentic life learning opportunities - craft, writing, drawing and so on. We know this time where learning looks so different can be quite worrying for families and we are here to support you all through it as we move forward under Government guidelines.
- online learning