The period of social distancing has brought about the closure of schools and educational institutions, many of which have migrated their teaching and learning efforts onto on-line apps, and portals such as google classroom and educationcity.
The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund’s (UNICEF) Robert Jenkins, UNICEF’s Global Chief of Education outlines ways by which you can continue to give your child an education while they stay at home:
- Plan a routine with your child
Parents should plan a routine which is age specific. This routine should include times for educational programmes which are online, on television or on the radio. There is also the need to factor times for playing and reading. The importance of the routine is to establish structure in the child’s life, however, there is the need to give room for flexibility in these COVID-19 times. Though you may have a routine, it is important to also switch up the activities planned which should include house chores which will help in the development of fine and gross motor functions.
- Have open conversations with your Children
Invite your children to talk about issues, encourage them to express their feelings and allow them to ask you questions in these stressful times. Allow your children to talk freely and use drawings, stories and other activities to open up discussions. Where good hygiene is one of the ways of beating COVID-19, discuss good hygiene practices with your child such as hand washing, using everyday activities and moments to stress the importance of good hygiene.
- Take your time with your children
Children react to stress differently, so there is the need to be patient and understanding. Start with short online lessons (10 minutes) and then progress to longer ones (30-or 45-minutes), combine online or screen time with offline activities or exercises. As parents and caregivers give your wards your full attention and allow them to talk to their teachers when in need of clarification or guidance.
- Protect your children while they use digital platforms
The utilization of digital platforms to facilitate teaching and learning as well as keeping in touch with friends while educational institutions are shut has risen, however, with the increased use of such platforms has brought about heightened risks in children’s safety, data protection and privacy. In order to protect your child while they use such platforms there is the need to discuss how the internet works, what they need to be aware of and the what is deemed as appropriate behaviour when they make or receive video calls. Remind them that there is no need for children or young people to share pictures of themselves or share their personal information when they access digital learning platforms.
There is also the need to have ground rules on how, when and where as well as for how long they can access the internet. Set parental control access to mitigate the risks that might stem from being online especially for children of younger ages. Identify age appropriate online tools such as games and apps together.
- Stay in touch with your Children’s education facility or teachers
Stay in touch with your child’s teacher and school in order to stay abreast with your child’s educational needs, ask questions and guidance during home schooling. Parents should form groups where they can support each other to advance the education of their wards.