How to homeschool your kids during the coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus live blog: Latest news and updates about the crisis in Australia

More and more children will be doing their schooling from home. Photo: Getty

Timetables, schedules and charts are being shared on social media to help frazzled parents get to grips with distance education during the coronavirus pandemic.

Homeschool timetables are being shared online as parents across the globe grapple with ways to successfully educate and aid their child’s learning whilst on lockdown during the COVID-19 worldwide shutdowns.

One mum, a photographer from Massachusetts in the US, has seen her own brightly-coloured chart go viral, shared more than 50,000 times.

Jessica McHale says she created the chart “to keep myself and my family sane through the unprecedented weeks ahead,” detailing how they’d be structuring their day, including scheduling in “creative time”, time for chores and “academic time.”

Mum Jessica's timetable went viral. Photo: Facebook

“I knew in order to keep them mentally engaged and happy for however many weeks we’re home, they’ll have to have something to look forward to,” Jessica told The New York Post.

“It reduces anxiety in kids that are anxious because they have that structure to look to.”

She said she has no idea why it’s struck such a chord (check it out – it’s even made meme status!) but believes it could be because it taps into parents’ – and children’s – need to feel in control during these unpredictable times.

“Routines provide comfort, and right now, there is so much chaos that everyone is just looking for comfort and safety wherever they can find it,” she said.

Jessica is not the only one who’s adapting to the new way of life. Celebrities across the globe are also finding themselves homeschooling their kids. Some are rising to the occasion.

Star’s share their homeschooling experiences

The Good Place star Kirsten Bell recently posted an excellent Twitter thread detailing ways parents could use the internet to help with their kids’ learning, linking to a range of educational resources, and teachers have been sharing similar resources online.

“If you're looking for activities to do with your children while at home, here are some great ideas,” she wrote, linking to virtual tours of world museums and zoos, sites that showcase indoor activities to do with toddlers and homeschool resource sites with free worksheets for kids.

Some celebs are just trying to survive – The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon recently posted a hilarious episode of his ‘The Tonight Show: At Home Edition’, which he records from home, complete with interruptions from his kids.

Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes also confessed she’s finding it hard, posting a video where she said: “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”

Yep, homeschooling is not easy. And as Kimberly Fox, staff developer for The Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University in New York told CNN Health, it’s important that parents realise they’ll never be their children’s school – and that’s OK.

“We don't have to be school,” she explained. “Under these circumstances, we're not going to entirely replace all of the structures that happen at school. But we can do a couple of things to make kids feel more secure and to make us feel like we're making the most of this time.”

Experts have shared their tips for successful learning at home. Photo: Getty

How to homeschool kids and make the most of time

  1. Create routine

    That’s where those lists come in. According to education specialists, kids thrive through routine, so scheduling in set times to do certain things will work well.

  2. Get creative

    Mix things up – find real-world ways to incorporate your child’s subjects into everyday life. Use cooking to demonstrate maths, or talk about science and biology while doing a spot of gardening, or through a walk to the park.

  3. Change the way you think about learning

    Re-adjust your thinking – and help your kids do the same. School might now equal the kitchen table!

    "We're all really used to outsourcing our learning for our children to schools," Queensland University of Technology expert on home education, Rebecca English, told ABC news. "It's a real mind shift to come home and think, 'OK, we are learning at home now'."

  4. Find a spot to work

    It helps to have a dedicated learning space in your home. But if you don’t have the room to spread out, that’s OK – the kitchen table will work just as well.

  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself

    Homeschooling isn’t a walk in the park – it’s going to get some getting used to. Luckily, our schools have our backs – they’re working around the clock to get systems in place to facilitate home learning. Many are sending out useful links, organising ways to connect via technology, and lending learning resources for families to use at home.

  6. Keep your sense of humour

    That’s all well and good, but remember: it’s still OK to have a moan! Shiri Kenigsberg Levi, a special education teacher from the States is all over this! She’s posted hilarious footage of herself ranting about how hard educating your kids from home is – from her car! Why her car? That was the only place she could escape her four fighting children!

Mum of 21 kids shares photo of homeschooling

Sue Radford, who is mum to Britain’s biggest family, shared a photo of nine of her children distance learning from the family home this week.

“Day one of homeschooling there probably won’t be a day two,” the mum, who is currently expecting her 22nd child, joked in the caption.

Other parents shared their sympathy with the mum as many faced homeschooling their own kids.

“I thought I had it bad with 3!!! Good luck!!!!!” one person wrote.

“Wow! Take my hat off to you! I have 4 and it’s something,” another added.

While a third said, “Wowsers, you've done well!”

How to talk about coronavirus with your kids

Now that your spending much more time with your children during this crisis, you might also be finding it difficult to talk to them about what is going on.

We spoke to a psychologist for her tips on how to deal with children’s corona anxiety.

Lorraine Corne is a family and child psychologist of over 27 years and says the key to helping a child through the panic is using the right tone.

“Intonation and reassurance are the two important aspects of this,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle previously.

“When you’re anxious you don’t feel secure and insecurity comes from too much information and not enough reassurance.”

She says approaching kids with a calm and even tone will give them the security they crave.

“We have to make it light and breezy and then get down to the nitty-gritty as to what they want to know,” she says.

More of Lorraine’s tips here

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