With educators courageously trying to teach children remotely, it may reassure parents that supporting their children’s learning at home doesn’t need to be a recreation of the structure of school. Academic subjects are of course important, but if you and your kids are butting heads about ‘schoolwork’, know that important learning can happen in many ways.
If we look at the skills students need to thrive now and in their future, it’s the skills that allow them to be adaptable lifelong learners: self-reliance, initiative, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. These skills are all best learned through real world experience.
Many areas of their present days are opportunities for kids to hone these skills, both individually and collaboratively with the family. From learning to get ready in the morning by themselves, tidying their bedroom regularly, and having manners around food – to taking on more household chores such as the washing up and laundry, while understanding what’s involved and how to plan ahead.
Even having discussion time with you and learning more about your life or work will cultivate curiosity and possibly lead to questions your children may never have otherwise thought of, allowing for creative and critical thinking.
Dr. Kathryn Weston, the CEO of Tooled Up Education, also points out that children will learn a lot from our behavior and reactions during this pandemic, so by modelling a sense of hope and positivity, as hard as that may be sometimes, we can teach them emotional resilience which will aid them in their own adult lives during times of challenge. When asked how parents can model positivity Dr. Weston explained, “We can control our attitude, we can control our levels of kindness that we show others, we can control our spending, we can control our consumption, we can control all of those things.”
Dr. Weston also pointed out, “this is a time when children will be online a lot, and it’s important in terms of practical skills that we start teaching them how to navigate that digital world safely”. She added that parents could teach children (depending on their age) how to use their digital skills more altruistically, to connect with the wider community during self-isolation, or even entrepreneurially. “Most teenagers now know how to do HTML, how to build a website but it’s using it in a positive way to demonstrate that they’re great digital citizens,” she said.
Yes numeracy and literacy are critical, but so are the life skills children have the opportunity to learn during this unusual time. Skills that can contribute to family life, foster a deeper connection, and hopefully create more ease for everyone.