Being away from home or being quarantined in your own home brings many challenges for families. Add in the extra challenge of e-learning, families may start to feel stress levels rising and patience at an all-time low. Below are some suggestions on how you can support your Junior School child with their e-learning:
1. Develop a routine: Your children will be craving routine. Melbourne Child Psychology state that a consistent routine in the home enables your children to relax as they know what to expect. Maintaining a regular schedule for children reduces anxiety because they know what activity is next and have certainty in their day. That is why it is so important to develop and stick to a routine in challenging times, such as these. Each day, try to have set times when your children do their e-learning, set times for meals and bedtimes, set times for play and exercise. For older children, let them have an input into their daily schedule; they are more likely to stick to it.
2. Daily exercise: For those of us quarantined in our homes or away from our own home, keeping up with daily exercise and reducing screen time for our children can be another challenge. We know that exercising helps to improve our mood, as when we exercise our brain releases chemicals to increase blood flow, make us feel happier and more relaxed. Kidshealth.org (2019) recommends that Junior School aged children do approximately one-hour of moderate activity each day. On our Junior School Physical Literacy pages on Firefly, there are many excellent suggestions for keeping active indoors and outdoors. Take a look. https://firefly.dulwich-shanghai.cn/physical-education-junior/physical-literacy-choice-boards Below are some suggestions of indoor exercise that teachers use during rainy or polluted days that you might want to try:
a. Just Dance Children can follow the dance moves to their favourite artists using youtube clips. Click here to find my personal favourite.
b. Click here to find a free resource for families and educators which has a range of dances and songs (even zumba routines) and mindfulness sections.
c. Housework: Getting your children to vacuum or clean kitchens and bathrooms is also a possible suggestion for getting children active.
3. Brain breaks and relaxation during the day: Short brain breaks during homework time have been shown to have real benefits. They reduce stress and frustration and increase attention and productivity.The key is to take them before fatigue, distraction or lack of focus set in. For Junior School children, that’s typically after 15 – 20 minutes of work (understood.org). At that point, they may need a three- to five-minute break. The goal of brain breaks for children is to help their brains shift focus. Sometimes that means getting up and moving, especially if your child has been sitting for a while. For relaxation, I recommend the smilingmind.com.au and smiling mind app for your family. They have free, short guided meditations which helps to calm your child’s mind before sleep and during brain breaks.
4. Spread the work across the week: Help your child to plan for the week. The e-learning can seem overwhelming at the start of the week, as a long list of tasks to complete. Help to model good organisational skills, by planning certain subjects on mornings and others after lunch, for example. Perhaps agree to complete the tasks that are of less interest to your child first, then complete the tasks for their favourite subjects. The following week, your child may be ready to draft their weekly e-learning schedule more independently.
5. Communicate with your teachers: Keep your teachers up to date with your child’s progress with e-learning. There will some days when your child is very resistant to e-learning. Or perhaps your child doesn’t understand what they are being asked to do. This is the time to reach out to your class teacher and ask for some guidance on which tasks are essential for your child to complete and/or get clarification on the task.
Finally, be kind to yourself and your family. We are all doing the best that we can in extraordinary circumstances. E-learning aside, our children are learning how to be adaptable and positive in the face of uncertainty, as well as improving their IT skills, grit and personal organisation through their e-learning experience.