Supporting children with homeschooling and online learning has become the new normal for many families. None of these activities come naturally to most of us and are likely to place increased stress on families and households.
Some simple, easy and inexpensive adaptions to home environments and daily activities can help families maintain involvement in their regular roles within a greatly changed world. This can improve feelings of health and well being.
Below are some simple suggestions for supporting families in managing these activities during the COVID 19 restrictions:
Talk to them
It’s a good idea to talk to your children about coronavirus regardless of their age, in a way that they can understand. There are some great websites with expert advice on how to talk to your children at this extremely unusual time such as https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/supporting-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/
Set a routine/daily timetable
Keeping children in a routine during uncertain times can provide stability and reduce anxiety. Maintaining regular daily routines can make it easier for children to deal with stressful events.
Routines will also assist in providing structure and help motivate children to engage in schoolwork and online learning. Using a timetable stuck on the fridge or the wall, outlining study times and activities, incorporating regular rest breaks will assist.
It is important to not try too hard to mirror a school day, as this can be unrealistic and stressful. Routines have lots of benefits but it is also good for children and parents to have free time to play, relax and be creative.
Set up the environment
Ensure that the study space is relatively organised and reduce or remove distractions during study times. Ensure that the space contains “study materials” such as a full pencil case, writing paper and a water drink bottle. The environment should be quiet, with good light to read. A room that is free of clutter and filled with study triggers will help children to focus and attend to their schoolwork.
The study area should ergonomically support a child to study. This means wherever possible, a study desk and chair should be used, if this is not available, the dining table and chairs will work fine! Also ensure that the room is not too hot or cold, lighted appropriately and decorated with items that may be appealing to children to promote a positive learning experience.
Access free (or low-cost) resources
The Internet is fantastic for accessing educational materials – ensure that you use reputable sources for information, which may include government agencies or professional associations.
Engage them with new activities
During non-study times and for younger children; fun toys and games that they haven’t played with before will keep them entertained for longer. Time-consuming projects that you haven’t had time for in the past such as crafts, stickers, puzzles, model car building and Lego are also a great occupier.
Also, if your budget allows, there are a variety of mail-order STEM or creative kits that your child can receive.
Stay connected with friends using supervised social media
Children are really missing their friends at the moment. Supervised regular check-ins via phone or Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom will help them feel connected to their friends and give them something to look forward to.
Go back to nature
Spend time in the garden, start planning and planting a backyard garden or plant a few pots on the balcony. The exercise, mindfulness and fresh air can make a huge difference to both children and their parents.
Sheraan is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist, BAppSc (Occ Therapy) who specialises in working with adults, adolescents and children in the community where mental health difficulties impact on their ability to perform in their everyday function and participation in the community.
Sheraan has 20 years of experience working at a tertiary level. She has worked in community, inpatient, forensic and residential mental health settings with both children and adults. Sheraan is skilled in providing both individual and group based recovery focussed interventions according to what will be most helpful to the individual person.