ThisFunktional Junior: 5 Helpful tips for school-at-home during COVID-19 quarantine

Monday, April 27, 2020

5 Helpful tips for school-at-home during COVID-19 quarantine

Written by Jesus Figueroa


During this pandemic many people have had to take on even more responsibility, especially when it comes to schooling.


Although parents are their children’s first teachers, now they are having to do so even more.


During this pandemic the hardest part for both parents and children has been adjusting.


Having two nephews — a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old — who both have different issues with school, above the now school-at-home adjustment issue, everything from boredom to not wanting to be indoors all day becomes an issue.


The stress of not being able to get away from school work and have a safe place at their home has made schooling at home a big issue for children and not not knowing how to structure is has become a big problem for parents.


The ability to be a teacher isn’t something many people are able to do — and so it’s been a difficult transition for both parent and child.


Since I was in my younger nephew’s class for almost an entire school year, I was able to get experience on what a regular school day, school week, and semester looks like.


Being stuck in a classroom, I decided to be useful and make myself available to help the teachers and provide support to them as well as to any student which may need that extra support.


Many children cannot adjust  to the idea that home space becomes “work” space, since there needs to be a distinction and safe place to get away from the stress of school. 


To the nephews this school-at-home thing felt more like a prolonged vacation than actual school.


For the grown-ups which are trying to be their teachers, the adjustments have been troublesome as well, but surely things have been getting to a comfortable place.


So here are a few helpful hint that I have stumbled upon while researching how to best help my nephews adjust. (it’s still an ongoing process.)

Remember that school was 6 hours, but it wasn’t lecture time all 6 hours in a row


While school time should be learning time, it’s not all book learning time. There’s so much more to a school day.


After those 6 hours there’s still many hours that teachers spend outside of school preparing and making sure all school board standards are met.


During a school day there’s more to do than just book learning. Then there’s homework time, but right now, it’s all homework time.


Out of the 6 hours there is recess and lunch, which account for about 30 minutes of eating and 30 minutes of playtime or socializing.


Regular recess is about 20 minutes for snacks and some time in the school yard games and socializing.


A regular lunch is 20 minutes for a lunch meal and 20 minutes for school yard games and socializing.


These two are time periods are actually essential for both teachers and students.


There had been a growing “epidemic of stress” that was causing teachers to take extended sick leave to recover from.


Lunch and recess time give the teachers a bit of time away from students to refresh — a bit of silence and time away from worrying about test scores, performance reviews, or administrative observation — and a moment of stress relief.


That leaves 5 hours of learning time.


Out of every hour there’s about 10 minutes for prep time, let’s round that up to another hour that is not lecture time.


Students take time to settle from getting to class, returning from snack time, changing from subject to subject, gathering materials, and going to or coming back from recess and lunch.


From getting paper, books, pencils, and some social interaction with classmates — which is why rounding it up to a full hour makes sense (at least to me).


Kids in class always have something to talk about, they share their experiences and make connections which establishes bonds between them, which all comes to having their minds wander.


That leaves 4 hours of learning time. 


Now, spending 4 hours in front of a computer screen sounds like torture, especially when going outdoors is not recommended at the moment.


Many parents want what’s best for their children, but not all parents know how to manage learning what’s necessary, with what the parents desire their children to learn.


Many times students gets stressed from parents wanting their kids to “go beyond what’s expected of them,” like many children would say their parents would ask of them.


That can lead to children getting no breaks, brief breaks, and becoming overworked.


We all want our children to do the best, but what we think is in their best interest isn’t always what they enjoy or think is best for them.


While parents still have to consider their children’s future, letting them be kids and develop their personalities ends up taking a backseat that never gets to be a part of growing up.


Building up creativity and personality can be key components in constructing a fully functional person who can problem solve and cope with many situation.


There needs to be time for everything.


Separating necessary assignments and giving priority to assignments that children enjoy sounds great.


School has a set schedule. Children seem to thrive with it, for the most part.


But another thing school has and accounts for is social/emotional learning.


Make a plan, build a schedule, and make sure to discuss it every step of the way with your child. Make the child feel like he has some freedom and control over what his day looks like, but at the same time remind them that mixing work with leisure time will make the school day seem endless and may associate leisure with school work — and nobody wants that.


Children like to believe they have some control over what they do, as does everyone. Having them contribute helps them build their confidence and the decreases their stress level.


Be sure to talk to the child’s actual teacher to make sure you prioritize the crucial aspects of their lesson plan and any virtual classroom stuff that they require.


Allow time to be sidetracked


Sometimes a gifted child has so much on his mind that school work can lead to extra activities — which is why I have nephews who help maintain ThisFunktionalJunior.com.


Getting sidetracked isn’t the worst thing. Allowing a child to wander deeper into a subject that interest them helps them develop their interest — which leads to productive hobbies.


The nephews find topics in their daily school work which interests them.


They like learning about certain subjects more than others.


So they decrease their own stress by getting sidetracked on a subject that they are enjoying.


This is still helping them learn, just not progressing in their daily work load, but that’s their choice.


Getting sidetracked also happens in the classroom, so there’s no need to be worried about that.


So all of a sudden those 4 hours of actual schoolwork can shrink to 3.5 hours, but that half an hour isn’t wasted, it’s just part of social development and mental health. It’s still part of the school day. (I won’t shrink the actual school day any more)


There’s fun Friday and extra activities which teachers insert into their school week to keep a students’ attention


I am not shrinking the school day, I’m shrinking the school week.


Schedule a day where fun activities can be shared. (This doesn’t mean no learning will be done)


This can be a workout/physical activity day — fun Friday activity, a workout Wednesday activity, a family movie night. (netflix has released educational content on their YouTube channel if you care to explore that)


These may not be the best way to get school work done, but during these stressful times mental health can get low and suicide rates have been going up.


Stress will increase just because children will be indoors for a large period of time.


In a regular week, my nephews would spend 4 days out of the 5 weekdays playing soccer or futsal. Being indoors isn’t easy for them.


Workout days help relieve stress. Pick fun activities that challenge each kid. Make it easy enough to be fun, but challenging enough to peak interest. Use music to make it even more fun and to bond with your child.


Parents have an advantage for movies as they always can have the last word on what to watch (“that’s all we have at the moment” is a good line to use). But actively watch a movie. Just like active reading with a child, actively watching a movie can help a parent bond and use the movie as a learning tool. It can be annoying to have someone constantly talking during a movie, but every movie has spots where talking won’t disrupt the storytelling. Pointing out details helps children make a connection with movies as well. Use any opportunity to bond and educate.


Consider mental health as a major part of this process


While everyone needs to be taking care of their own mental health, children haven’t gone through as much as grown-ups, they do not understand how to deal with the stress and emotions of the world at the moment.


Remember that their weekends are important to recharge for the week. Spend time with your child and be present during that time.


What is being present? Put your cell phones away. Interact with your child. Talk with them. Ask them about their week (I know you probably spent every waking moment with them, but you may be surprised as to how different they experience things).


Children rely on parents for many things, even more so to cope with everything that we are having to go through right now.


Social distancing has made social interactions difficult.


While FaceTime and phone calls can help with socializing, it’s not the same as having a person present.


Although parents have work, economic stress, emotional stress, social isolation, and now being teachers on top of all that, it can be relaxing to just disconnect and spend time with family. The joy of being around family should be a stress relief.


Just like making home a place for school work can make it difficult for children, making parents into teachers can make being around a child feel like work.


But, just disconnecting and being present during fun activities can help curve that feeling and may even make teaching a child more enjoyable.


This may also help parents take a child’s interests into account.


Separate a child’s workspace from their play space


Just like grown-ups should have an area for doing work and an area to decompress, children do too.


Children’s stress level may increase in areas where they feel are meant for work, or just stuff that they don’t enjoy.


Make sure to not have children do work in the bedroom or playroom. Separate their workspace as much as possible.


This helps make sure they do not associate home with school work, it helps lessen the stress of the week, it helps make home a safe haven from school life.


Children understand much more than we give them credit for. They have been pushed into maturing a bit more now in this time of pandemic.


Make sure your child has a safe place.


This one is a bonus tip: Talk to them honestly about what’s happening


They already know something is going on, so give them information about what’s going on.


Having some knowledge about what’s going on can help alleviate some of that stress of not knowing, you also get to control what they know.


Keep safe and try and keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

This is dedicated to all things kids. Although overlooked by Jesus @ThisFunktional of Thisfunktional.com, this is contributed to by his nephews #DarkPokeWill and #DarkPokeNoah, as well as hopefully getting other parents and youth to contribute. This will be for kids and mostly by kids.

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful tips for school-at-home during COVID-19 quarantine.In this period only saftey and precaution is important for everyone only can protect your life. Learning of students could not be affect if they follow these guidlines. By these activities students can focus on their study. Through home based learning help our children continue to learn effectively at home and confidently succeed in the examinations?

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