In summary

  • Associate Professor of Education Narelle Lemon shares her top five tips for families navigating remote learning for a second time
  • Overall, she says to be gentle on yourself and those around you, remember everyone is doing the best they can, don’t compare yourself, and do what is right for your family’s needs

Associate Professor of Education Narelle Lemon shares her top tips for parents and guardians as many schools resume remote learning during the COVID-19 situation.

As Melburnians navigate a second lockdown and schools return to remote or flexible learning for most young people, many households have also returned to a juggling act.  

I’m sharing five things you can do as parents or guardians to help support your children and families during remote learning, as you manage education, work, family time, and everything else.

Remember, the key to approaching remote and flexible learning this time is to know everyone is doing the best they can and that includes you – be gentle with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others, just do what is right for you and your family.

Think, reflect and plan

Build from your first experience of remote and flexible learning. Ask yourself and your family: what worked for you last time? What might need some tweaking this time around? How can you translate these learnings into practice?

Spend some time as a family developing a schedule. Consider the school timetable, work commitments, and times of the day that require your children to have specific supervision and times when they can be independent. Hopefully you will find a balance and discover what works well for your family dynamics.

Routine is your best friend

At the moment, every day might seem like it lasts a month, and the concept of time is blurred.

Routines such as shower and bath time, sleep time, exercise time, getting dressed (and changing out of pyjamas), planning and eating meals together, taking breaks, and family time are crucial parts of the day. What do these look like for your household? Is there a pattern you can form for them to occur at the same time each day? Do you create moments of joy, smiles, laughs and appreciation?

Green time, me time, us time and screen time

‘Green time’ is time in the garden, walking outside, or doing anything in nature. ‘Me time’ is the individual time you require to refresh and rejuvenate. ‘Us time’ is time spent together investing in your family relationships. This could be a games night, listening to music, watching a movie, exercise, meals, or making something together. We’re all familiar with ‘screen time’, but it’s important to think about how the screen is featuring in your life right now, especially how much time you’re spending away from the screen. Remember to step away.

I see all of these as crucial because they are proactive steps that will help you take care of yourself and your family.

Put your strengths into action

Focusing on your strengths can help you problem solve and support one another. We can use our strengths to approach problems or situations in different ways. The strengths of organisation and deep listening, for example, might be strengths you can pair together to support a process of planning for how all members of your household can respect each other’s needs, while also negotiating time together, support or supervision.

We can also ‘strength spot’ in each other and illuminate them as a way of appreciating a different perspective or approach. When we frame our communication with others through a strength, this allows us to be more mindful and a bit gentler, especially in times of exhaustion or stress. For example: “I love how you use humour to help us realise that I might need to step away from the computer and spend time with you” or “I appreciate that you want to go outside now, but let’s use our perseverance to complete this school task, and then we can spend time together outside.”

If in doubt, ask for help

Remember teachers are there to support your children and they know you are an important part of this as well. Teachers are fully aware of the additional pressure that remote learning places on the family. If you need some help or want to ask a question, approach teachers with curiosity and mutual respect. Open-ended questions are wonderful and create a dialogue that means you can work in partnership with them.

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