Education expert's top tips for parents struggling with homeschooling during pandemic

Over the last year and a half, New Zealand parents and students alike have become well accustomed to homeschooling and distance learning

But anecdotal evidence on social media shows that through this recent COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown, some of the old motivation might have been lacking. 

With at-home learning looking to remain on the agenda for at least a few weeks yet for many parents around the country, there are various applications and online learning methods to help, like IXL and Education Perfect. 

One of those is the free application Kami, which transforms documents into an interactive learning experience for students and teachers during lockdown periods.

If you're struggling to keep your kids focused and attentive during 'school time' at home, we turned to Kami's online learning experts and ex-educators to get some advice on the best ways parents can set their primary and intermediate-aged kids up for the best learning at home in lockdown. 

Keep a routine

According to Nicole Rennie, Kami spokesperson and ex-school teacher, it's important to create a routine that helps your child understand the difference between home-time and school-time.

"Keep school bedtimes in place, and keep the same wake-up time and morning routine: breakfast, getting dressed etc," she told Newshub.

To keep the sleep routines the same, "keep devices out of bedrooms if at all possible and try to set up some weekly physical activity requirements if there are no school-driven ones". 

Create a 'classroom at home' 

A good at-home setup space will help to establish a learning focus, says Rennie. "Set up a simple desk-space, somewhere without too many distractions and where connectivity is good. 

"A visible clock is useful, and have a timetable and agreed upon break-times."

She advises children remain in that 'school' at space during the regular schooling hours, taking breaks outside where possible. 

Lead by example 

"Give your children the chance to discover good habits by observing them!" says Rennie. "Above and beyond any studious effort, children's success is so driven by encouragement. 

"Commend them on their focus, and the great work they are achieving." 

She recommends parents sit with their children to come up with some "easily understandable and realistic" goals, "so they are encouraged and motivated to complete it". 

"Not having in-person school is hard on kids, so rewarding them for being flexible and doing their best in challenging times, by suggesting an out-of-the-norm treat, like a midweek movie night or an after-dinner doughnut can really help to keep a positive outlook, especially because kids cannot quantify the change," says Rennie. 

"It can be hard on kids as remote-learning is not always for a pre-defined period of time so there's often no immediate end in sight for them." 

Notice and check-in 

"Try to take notice and give descriptive praise for all the great things your kid IS able to do. Also, be honest and let them know how you are doing. Balancing work and home life in one space can be extremely challenging. Family openness leads to better understanding and empathy."

Some examples of positive feedback she recommends are: 

  • "You're being so flexible, managing your school-work at home"
  • "Your tech skills are ramping up!"
  • "Wow, great job getting up and into action for your home-school day!"