Feels like we have come a long way since the pandemic, even though it is not that long ago. Needless to say, things at home have changed. Some of us area still working from home periodically and school demands are still something our children are adjusting to. We received some tips from our our friend who is an educator from TDSB, who is also a mother of three. Re-sharing some of her strategies for teaching, learning and working from home.
Money- schools often recommend our kids to use iPads, MacBooks or chrome books. This can get expensive. However, check with your schools as more often than not, they are able to loan devices. In addition, continue to check your government sites for education rates or new announcements regarding financial support.
Space- Finding a permanent location in your home where your children and you can work and feel comfortable to do their homework and assigned projects is important to our sanity. Keeping the spaces organized and equipped with things everyone will need (the night before) is essential for keeping stress levels low and student success high, all while considering each individual family member's needs and of course logistics (e.g., outlets, WIFI).
Time management- How are we working, teaching and feeding our family at the same time? The short answer is structure and routine. Having everyone’s schedules posted up somewhere central (e.g., like the kitchen) will help keep everyone on track throughout the day. A menu plan for the week created by the entire family should be handy too. Please don't disregard the benefits of meal-planning and packing lunches the night before.
A time saving hack we use in our house daily is the magic of the charcuterie board. In the morning (during our regular commute time), I create a breakfast/snack charcuterie board in the kitchen for all to help themselves. Get a big platter out and fill it up with foods the family can grab and eat whenever they are hungry. I usually have berries, some kind of bread (croissants, toast and butter, crackers), a protein (nuts, egg bites, salami slices), and lot’s of veggies (cause lets face it, everyone eats veggies when they are hungry and everything is cut up and sitting out). One more thing that helps is having milk, cereal, fruit, yogurt all at the same height as your children in the pantry or fridge so they can help themselves if you are not able to. This is also helpful for after school and before extra-curricular actives. Snacks prepared before the kids come home and they can freshen up, graze on what they want and then get ready for the next thing.
Communication with the teachers - Remember parents are teachers and teachers are parents, so we have a good understanding of what’s going on at home. Teachers who are online, teaching your child, recognize that you are not always around to help their child and that’s OK. Just like in the classroom, the teacher knows who needs more help and who can function independently so don’t worry if you feel you can't help your child at home. This rings true for some parents who have kids in French Immersion and don't know the language. Teachers will provide all the necessary support your child needs and if you have any questions or requests, just ask. They are there to help and WANT to accommodate the students.
Teachers also are aware of the inequities in our system. Not every family has access to internet, devices, WIFI spots in the home, paper/pencils etc. Please let your school administration know what you need, and they WILL provide it for you. That’s their job, do not feel bad about it.
Breaks- After school we always want our kids to get their homework done - however, let them take a break. After all, when we return from work, the last thing we want to do is work. So therefore, taking a break is vital for students to actually keep their attention when it is required. When they are ready to sit down and get to work, keep a water bottle next to your child will help them take their own “water break”, if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Getting outside- The health benefits of fresh air and being outside, especially with your family, are tremendous. The conversations alone are precious and often rare throughout the busyness of the day. Try to take a walk, hit a trail, or bike ride for a lunch break. It will clear your mind and set you up for the next day.
Listening - listening to your child is so important. If your child tells you they are tired or they can’t do this, BELIEVE them! They are using their words to tell you it’s too much. Consider a different approach to learning or experimenting with different activities. Kids can develop and learn new skills at home, for example, cooking dinner using measurements, setting the table for counting, fixing the new desk they got for procedure, making a grocery list, or even a planned geometric shape scavenger hunt around the house.
Hope these tips are useful and help you navigate through the new school year. One last thing is enjoy the time you have with your little ones.
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