These are incredibly unusual times for teachers, parents and pupils. As most schools are closed, or only teaching a small number of children, many parents are feeling under pressure to both work from home and provide a stimulating learning environment for their children. As an educator, you may find yourself called upon to offer emotional support to your pupils and their parents.
Here are some tips on reassuring your pupils and their families during school closures:
Help them discover new things together
It’s a stressful time for working parents, and anything you can do to remove the pressure and offer additional support will go a long way. Rather than giving your parents suggested timetables, lesson plans and homeschooling ideas, why not remind them that it’s a perfect time to discover new things together?
Anything your pupils have a passion for is a good start. Remind your pupils and their parents that learning isn’t always about equations and fractions. Just discovering things like exploring nature in the garden is just as valuable, and much less pressure on parents’ time too.
Gather pupils’ opinions
Parents are more used to supporting your lessons and homework assignments than providing structured learning for their children. They may, therefore, feel daunted by the idea of being ‘in charge’ when it comes to education.
Why not suggest parents have a chat to their children about their favourite lesson styles and learning approaches? Do they prefer interactive learning, or auditory lessons, for example? Do they work better in pairs?
If so, why not connect your parents with each other and help them create a virtual learning space. It needn’t be intense, just an informal chat with a fellow classmate on a specific subject or topic. This will also help reassure pupils that they aren’t as isolated from their friends as they may think.
Many parents assume they have to download reams and reams of learning content, and their children must sit quietly and absorb it; a tricky proposition from a preparation perspective. Your pupils, however, have been taking in knowledge and learning on their current subjects since the beginning of the academic year.
Why not suggest parents take on the role of pupil instead, and let their children provide a lesson from their favourite subjects? Or suggest siblings teach each other something they’ve learnt that academic year. It will help your pupils recall the information they’ve received and enjoyed, and it gives parents a break from ‘doing’, too.
Go back to basics — remove the plans and pressure
The best support you can offer your pupils and their parents is to remind them to remove the pressure and enjoy themselves. There’s no need to crash from lesson to lesson, force pupils to sit and listen for hours and get upset and frustrated when it doesn’t all go to plan. The best learning happens in the unplanned times, in the ‘let’s just go and explore’ times.
Parents have jobs to do, too. Remind them that family time and play is just as important as structured learning. These are the silver linings during these uncertain times.