School closures in Thailand and around the world have brought significant disruption to many families’ lives with every household member affected. The current situation is unprecedented and, in reality, this time 12 months ago, none of us had contemplated the impact it would have. Knowing where to begin with online learning and homeschooling is one challenge, but this also needs to be balanced with a “normal” school routine and regular family life.
As the leading international kindergarten in Bangkok, we appreciate how difficult the current situation is and are always on hand to offer whatever support we can. We have put together this brief guide to help parents, pupils, nannies, and other household members to manage this period successfully. Of course, the advice will need to be adjusted to suit you and your family, but it should give you a starting pointing if you are currently struggling to see the wood for the trees.
In the modern world, excellent time management is important for all, but it essential when everyone is required to take on new and additional roles. Effective time management will not only mean that everything that needs to get done does indeed get done, but it will also help everyone keep their sanity! Remember, no one can do everything, and a lot of the pressure you may be experiencing will be the pressure that you have put on yourself.
Most of us feel that we don’t have enough time to do everything, so the best place to start is by writing down everything you think needs to be done. Now you will see a few things that aren’t essential and don’t need to be done right here, right now and can be removed from the list. Anything that is not essential should be removed from this list. From the remaining jobs and tasks on the list, you can now formulate some form of schedule. At this stage, the list should look something like homeschooling, family time, and your job. Specific tasks are not required at this stage.
Once you have an overall plan, you can then start to develop a strategy about how you are going to achieve everything that needs to be done. It would help if you appreciated that effective time management is essential for maintaining everyone’s mental and physical wellbeing. Having a plan from the start that can always be tweaked is the only way to manage online learning and maintain a regular school routine effectively.
Being Organised and Having a Routine
Sticking to a routine is the best way humans operate, and although at times it may seem tedious and mundane, trust us, in the long run, it will mean that you have more time to enjoy the things you like doing. It should include waking up at around the same time, eating at regular times and finishing at around the same. This will help the body clock and add structure to your day. From the list you created earlier, you will know what jobs need to be done, so now is the time to start delegating tasks to others to ensure that everything is completed.
Now, we move onto the school routine and how you plan your lessons. As much of the learning will be done online, you will probably need to be flexible and work the school and teachers on this. For instance, if they offer a Zoom class at 10am on Tuesday, this is something that you must put in your schedule. Attending this class is vital, not only from an educational point of view but also to ensure that they remain in contact with their peers and their teachers. Sometimes, the impact on a child’s mental health can be overlooked as we struggle to cope with the rigours of daily life.
Without question, a lot of the learning will be done at times that suit you and will be available online 24/7. Therefore, you will have some flexibility and be able to structure your learning around everyone’s daily life to ensure that all needs are met. Regular everyday life must continue where possible and not get forgotten. Maintaining all of your routines is crucial to ensuring that everyone’s needs are met, and their physical and mental wellbeing is protected.
Access to Online Content
Although it may seem like an obvious fact, ensuring that your child has access to all the online content they require for their schooling is vital. Of course, this will mean having access to a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access, but it also includes being able to access specific content. Frequently used conferencing apps such as Google Classroom and Google Meets require users to log in for lessons, so you need to ensure that your child’s login is working.
There are also other considerations, such as how easily your child can find additional content for lessons. It may be in the form of links supplied by the teacher or alternatively, finding answers using search engines such as Google. Most students are relatively computer savvy so won’t find this too tricky, but it is worth checking from time to time that they have everything that they require. Unfortunately, it the modern world, we would also suggest checking your child’s browsing history to ensure that they are not accessing inappropriate content or receiving unsolicited messages.
As we mentioned previously, keeping a “normal” life, where possible, is vital in ensuring everyone’s health and welfare. When you are scheduling activities, you still leave enough time for the family to get together as usual. This may include eating together, sitting down and relaxing together, or visiting places such as the park. Although you will almost inevitably be spending more time in each other’s company than usual, you should make sure that you still have “quality time” together.
Of course, parents will also want some time together alone, so if possible, you should ask family or friends to look after your child for a few hours. It will help to create a better atmosphere in the home and potentially reduce tensions if everyone is getting some alternative company. Don’t worry, it is normal in circumstances such as this for tempers to become frayed, but you should try to keep its impact on family life to a minimum. Homeschooling won’t last forever, and it is worth reminding yourself of this when you are running short of patience.
We all need downtime, and for your child, this may mean time away from their computer or phone. Concentrating on a screen for long periods is not good for their eyes so you should schedule regular breaks away from the computer. When in the classroom, students will spend long periods looking at the teacher and joining in-class activities rather than focusing on a computer for the lesson’s entire duration.
Play and mixing with friends is also an activity that pupils would do as part of their regular school routine. While the options for doing this are undoubtedly limited, you could encourage your child to play in the house or where possible, allow your child to mix with their friends. If meeting in person, the preferred option is not available you could arrange for them to chat on social media apps. It will help them to stay in touch with their friends and reduce loneliness. Once again, this element focuses more on the mental impact of remote learning rather than the academic one.
Asking for Help
It is normal for both parents and students to be reluctant to ask for help, especially at times when they need it the most. Usually, this is because they feel embarrassed and don’t want to admit that they are struggling. However, you must remember that online learning is new for almost everyone. As parents, very few of you will be qualified teachers and know where to begin with homeschooling. Therefore, seeking advice and help is vital as even teachers generally specialise in one or two subjects, whereas you will be required to help with all their lessons.
Students may also find learning from home tough. They may find it hard to stay focused, become easily bored or not understand specific topics. If this is the case for your child, we recommend speaking with their teacher to seek their advice. For attention issues, it might be worth working for more but shorter periods while for struggling to understand topics, the teacher can perhaps advise you on alternatively ways to explain the point.
Finally, children just as much as adults, if not more so will miss the company of their friends and peers. If your child’s mental health seems to have deteriorated, we recommend that you speak to the school or your doctor to seek their help. Often the symptoms include becoming more withdrawn, changes in mood or personality or problems sleeping. It is worth noting that your child may try to disguise these symptoms, so we would suggest being extra vigilant at this trying time.
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We hope this article gave you some ideas and assistance for online learning and maintaining a normal school routine. At Kidz Village, we believe in helping all our students and parents whatever the circumstances. For more information, please call us on +66 2888 3337 or contact us directly via our website.