Just because children are away from school, it doesn’t mean they have to stop learning. However, it does mean that their learning needs to be uniquely modified and structured to suit the way in which they learn best. Finding the best way may take some time to find out, but with an open mind and patience, parents can help their child enjoy learning, rather than seeing it as a task.
To have an open mind you must accept that things have changed, children will not be attending school as they used to be, so parents have a responsibility to keep children active and gain knowledge. Parents should stimulate children’s minds with challenging and new information that doesn’t necessarily have to be online. Books, worksheets, quizzes and puzzles are good ways to exercise their minds and get away from the computer and computer games for a while.
Parents can create a healthy balance by getting children involved in various activities, both indoors and outdoors. If you have a yard, devise a simple task that your child can complete over some time, such as removing weeds and clearing a section for seed planting. It is easy to get seeds of passion fruit, bora, tomatoes, okras, and peppers, to name but a few. Use old ice cream containers or other recycled plastic containers to plant the seeds before transferring them to the ground.
Go outside with your kids if you have space and do some early morning stretching exercises. Playing ‘ketcha’, or kicking or throwing a ball around helps your blood circulate. All forms of physical activity will get the heart pumping and blood flowing more to the brain; this allows us to think clearly. Exercise regularly for maximum effect – at least one hour of exercise is recommended for children a day.
Families can learn (deep) breathing techniques and yoga outdoors or outside. A cartoon monkey on YouTube teaches kids yoga and meditation exercises, or families can take a brisk walk just before sunrise when the air is fresh. These simple outdoor activities will help adults and children enjoy their day. Online education for those with internet access is useful but not suitable for all children. There is a lack of interpersonal connection to make the huge leap from one-to-one teaching in the classroom, to teacher attention through a laptop, and some children are struggling. Parents should not be surprised or annoyed if their child has difficulty concentrating, is unable to concentrate or does not enjoy online education. Some children have adapted and benefited from their online education. However, nothing can compensate for the traditional teacher / student relationship and the social-emotional development that children gain from school life.
Parents do not have to be scholars to motivate their children to learn, but they need to be consistent with their input and make learning exciting and fun. It is not about trying to replace the child’s teacher; it is about connecting with and stimulating the child’s learning, so it does not become idle or lazy.
Parents can do this in creative ways; for example, while watching a movie, the name of a city or country can be mentioned. Challenge your child to find the location and write ten or a few paragraphs about the country. Give children a feast or a reward at times, but don’t give incentives related to learning or completing tasks.
Most research these days is done online but, where possible, parents should provide material that is not on a computer screen so that children can keep the simple tasks of reading and writing without using technology.
Parents should praise children for work they have completed, and when they seem tired or uninterested, it is okay to give them a break and let them complete their work within a set time frame. Boundaries are needed, so children realize that education is still a significant part of their development, and not something for which they have a choice.
Children who learn at home do not need to be pressured or deceived for not doing as well as they used to at school. The World has changed because of the COVID 19 pandemic, and we are all learning new behaviors and ways to cope. Children are expected to accept and abide by a new set of rules overnight, and for some, it will take longer to adapt than others; this is where parents need first of all an open mind and patience.
Children need to feel engaged and connected when they are learning; they need material and challenges that will spark their curiosity and imagination, not a tireless process that is difficult to understand, or long winded. It is more difficult for them to pay attention when they are not interested, and where they are not, the child will go through the motions, but little or no learning takes place. Parents have a duty to maintain some structured education for children.
If you are worried about a child’s welfare, call the CPA helpline on 227 0979 or write to us at [email protected]
MESSAGE OF THE CHILDREN AND SAFEGUARDING AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SAFETY