How to handle the challenges of home schooling

A parent and educator shares her homeschooling tips

Covid-19 introduced parents to a whole new world of juggling their careers and full-time parenting.

Add home education to the mix and you may find that you have your hands full!

We are thankful for the option of online learning, but let’s face it, some children find it quite challenging to successfully learn in this way. Supplementary lessons and putting in extra time with school work is needed.

As a teacher and mother of three, I always assumed that schooling my own children would be easier than teaching a whole classroom, but, boy, was I wrong!

Reality hit when I realised that my home class consisted of a Grade 10 scholar, a Grade 7 scholar and a Grade R scholar. Add to this the fact that they are balls of pure energy — interesting times indeed!

My first week of home schooling was chaotic, to say the least.

Everyone woke up at different times, breakfast became a self-service “grab & hide away”, screen time increased, books were set aside and I found myself refereeing more fights than I’d care to.

If I remember correctly, by the end of the week I was emotionally, mentally and physically drained.

I sat up one night literally twirling every strand of my hair, brainstorming what I felt was the most important factors we needed as a family to make this work.

It was clear that my children’s schooling needed extra attention. I’ve also had to accept that there was simply no way that I’d get it all right, but I had to try.

From a practical perspective these were the most important things that came up:

• Plan creatively. Set your own expectations and create a schedule that works for you and your family.

Plan a schedule that works for you and your family. Our schedules are age-dependent and set up according to what is required by their school. Our goals vary from child to child.

Tasks are set up for each child and they can include activities such as reading a book or learning how to write a letter of the alphabet.

• Stick to your schedule but remain flexible.

Productivity does not equal many hours of work. I give my children the freedom of choice to swap activities so that they spend more time learning what they need to learn, rather than force-feeding information to them. Some days are easier than others and, as a parent, I had to become more accommodating.

• Let’s face it, screen time will probably increase

This is bound to happen and, in some cases, it may just save your day. Parental supervision is always required but there are so many educational and fun platforms which have been developed during lockdown that it can be beneficial. We are raising technology babies after all.

• Communicate and share the load with your partner

Communication is key, not only with my children but also with my partner. The load may not be shared equally but we have a mutual understanding to assist, whether it be with household or parenting duties.

• Chores

Chores are of utmost importance. It is a part of life which will be passed on from generation to generation. I believe it’s a form of teamwork, whether it’s doing the dishes, hanging up or taking off the washing or cleaning the hamster’s cage. It’s done together, as a family.

• Remain positive and be gentle

This is extremely important. Positivity is magical and makes everything more manageable, leading to greater productivity. Positivity extends to the working environment.

Set up a study space with some familiarity of school to bring comfort and structure, but not so rigid that it feels drilled.


• Snacks and drinks

Prepare snack attack packs the night before. Trust me, it helps to buy time when the kids do their “hunger whine”.

• Breaks and downtime

Taking regular breaks are a must and provide kids with the opportunity to be kids. This includes time as a family. Sitting down and relaxing. Having fun by playing games together or perhaps learning a new TikTok dance — trust me I have done a few too.

With the whirlwind of emotions adults are experiencing as a result of the pandemic, it is quite obvious that children are experiencing similar feelings and perhaps to a greater extent. It is important that we help them to navigate these feelings in a casual, fun and non-threatening environment.

Completing “to do lists” is important, but we need to provide equal opportunities for our children to regularly talk about their thoughts and feelings.

This will help us to pick up warning signs such as changes in their personalities due to lockdown.

Be aware of their mannerisms, habits and especially the things they say without saying anything at all.

Schooling your children at home requires communication, more than anything.

  • Written by Taskeen Salie



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