Feeling more prepared
In some ways, Kala feels more prepared for home learning this time around. “I feel there’s more structure with home learning because my daughter has two half-hour online lessons on Google Classroom with her teacher each day. Then the teacher gives the children tasks for the rest of the day,” she says.
The hope is that Adrian’s nursery will open next week, but for now, the family is lucky because each of the children has access to an iPad, says Kala. “It means there is no fighting over devices, and we can use educational apps alongside the Google Classroom content.”
For her youngest child, Kala has made use of the CBeebies app, and Kala is also a fan of the BBC lockdown learning lessons. “They are just the right length to hold her attention and keep her going, so we may watch more of those this time,” she says.
Choosing activities to keep kids occupied
Kala’s biggest worry is that her children are full of energy. “They’re typical kids so my main worry is keeping them occupied, especially my little boy,” she says. “He loves being outside and going to visit friends and family, but we need to find ways to keep him occupied with mainly indoor activities.”
Finding activities that will entertain a three-year-old and allow ten-year-old Arianna the chance to concentrate on her learning has been difficult. The family is also aware of trying to keep older children engaged and active rather than letting them become screen zombies. “My daughter is in her last year of primary school, so I worry she is missing out on precious time with her schoolmates before they all set off in different directions,” says Kala. “I also worry that, if I didn’t intervene, she would be happy to spend all day on her iPad. It can be a struggle to think of alternative forms of entertainment.”
Helping children manage emotions
Alongside the challenges of home learning, Kala and her husband are aware of the impact that news has on their daughter. “She’s a classic tween, with emotions all over the place, so I worry if she’s able to digest what’s happening over the past nine months,” Kala says. “I’m grateful she seems able to chat with me about her thoughts and worries, and I often ask her how she’s feeling about the situation.”
Parent tips for more success homeschooling
Kala advises other parents balancing the needs of different age groups not to stress too much. “During the first lockdown I had so many arguments with my daughter about homeschooling before I realised it’s just not worth it,” she says. “We can only do what we’re able, and the most important thing is that everyone – parents and kids – stays happy.”
Another idea is to split homeschooling into smaller chunks at different times of day, with more breaks, rather than expecting children to sit and focus for hours at a time. “It makes it easier for everyone!” says Kala. “And parents, don’t forget to share the load. I’m guilty of feeling like it’s all on me to organise sometimes, but partners can also play an important role.”