As a homeschooling mum of four with nearly 11 years' experience and two kids now at school, so many people have told me that I should be all over this remote learning thing.
I am not.
First of all, remote learning is not home schooling.
As a homeschooler I know the academic ability of my kids, I set the work and I therefore understand what the purpose of the work is (and generally I have the answers!). For my remote learning kids, however, I haven't the faintest idea about any of these things.
Secondly, everyone seems to need help at the same time.
As I keep telling my kids, I am only one person, trying to spread myself over four-kids' worth of academic, technical and emotional needs.
Lastly, unless you are a computer programmer, navigating these online learning systems can be a time-consuming, pull-your-hair-out nightmare at times.
So let me reassure you that this is not easy or ideal.
But, here is how I have made remote learning work for us:
1. Make relationship a priority
You are their parent first and foremost - always choose relationship. Pick your battles. If they are completely flipping out over that maths work let it go...for now. You can come back to it when they have calmed down and you have reconnected.
2. Give your day structure
For most kids, structure is comforting and stops the 'I'm booooorreeed' assaulting your ears on a half-hourly basis. If school work is part of your routine, it is just what you do, not something that is up for negotiation depending on how everyone is feeling that day.
3. Use screen time as a reward
I'm not going to go into all the studies that show the negative effects of excessive screen time...What I will tell you though is that you can use it as an incentive. They are designed to be addictive so use that - no TV, iPad, mobile phone or computer games until school work is finished. And what the heck, throw in a few jobs they have to do first too. As a bonus, once schoolwork and housework are finished you get a break too while they zone out.
4. Get them moving - regularly
Kids (including teens) need to move. It helps them concentrate and gives them a hit of feel-good hormones. Before attempting school work send the kids outside for 10-30mins of exercise, fresh air and sunshine (which also gives you time to hang out washing or do some other jobs) or go for a walk or bike-ride together. Give wiggle breaks between brain-heavy school activities too.
5. Use this opportunity to teach life skills
Even young kids are very capable of helping around the house. What wonderful skills you can give them, and hey - slaves!
Emotional intelligence is also a lifeskill. A morning spent supervising siblings playing together without fighting or talking through what is causing so much anxiety about a certain school task can be just as valuable as any 'school' work. Remember you are growing hearts as well as minds.
Finally, don't underestimate the emotional impact this virus has too. Our little people have big ears and are very perceptive of the vibe around them. Which goes back to number 1...always chose relationship.
Enjoy this special time you get to have with your kids - build precious memories at a time when dark clouds threaten.
Make it a time that they look back on with fondness, not fear.
- Kim Hol is a trained maths teacher and tutor who lives in the NSW Southern Highlands.