How to Homeschool Your Kids During a COVID Lockdown

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It’s back to distance learning in NSW due to the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Newcastle & Hunter and the Greater Sydney region. Parents of school-aged kids will now need to supervise their children’s schooling. Before you panic (and we totally understand if you do), we’ve collated some tips and tricks on how best to support your kids in learning from home.

Check with your school

Some schools have already set up Google Classroom or SeeSaw. These are apps available via computers or tablets. Teachers can provide learning and assign classwork (or should that be called homework as it’s done at home). Some schools have subscriptions to applications like Reading Eggs and Mathletics. Check with your individual school to see it is available.

Set up a dedicated learning area

To avoid having school books and pencils all over the kitchen table or furniture, set up a dedicated quiet study area. You can put school books and supplies in this spot along with a computer or tablet if available. Encourage kids to keep the area clean and organized just like they would at school.

Have snacks and lunch prepared

Prep snacks and pack a lunchbox before the day starts. Kids can then get into their schoolwork, stop for regular breaks without disrupting you while you’re trying to work or get things done.

Check the curriculum

If you want to know what kids should be working on, check with their teacher or check the Australian curriculum. Just enter the year and it will tell you exactly what their learning goals are. This is what the work assigned by teachers aligns with.

Stick to a schedule

As tempting as it is to just let kids relax, it’s important to have some structure in the day similar to a typical school day. You don’t need to be overly regimented but have a rough schedule that kids can follow. Get them changed out of their pyjamas, eating breakfast at a regular time and ready to learn.

If you want to download and customise a school schedule, check out Teach Mama’s free downloadable homeschooling schedule printables. It has specific times for English, STEM, creative time and free play. Or else, just write a simple schedule on a whiteboard or a cardboard piece of paper that you can put up for easy reference.

Visit educational websites

There are lots of education websites available, both in Australia and overseas. We’ve compiled the best educational websites for ages preschool to year 12. It features websites like ABC Reading Eggs, ABC Education, Khan Academy, National Geographic Kids, Behind the News (BTN) and Oxford Owl.

We’ve also put together a list of academic resources organised by subject. It’s a collection of 50+ online resources to use in homeschooling. The internet is full of thousands of online teaching resources, some better quality than others. However, in our guide, we’ve attempted to curate the best resources that we could find and includes many that align with the Australian curriculum.

Listen to audiobooks and podcasts

While schools are closed, you can access your local library for audiobooks. They have fiction and non-fiction audiobook titles that kids can download and listen to.

Want to keep little minds interested? Get them listening to podcasts especially during this enforced time at home. We love podcasts as kids can listen to the subject matter while relaxing, drawing or just playing with LEGO. And there are so many topics to choose from. No matter what your child is interested in, there’s a podcast for them. Choose from science, ethics, mysteries and music and more.

Here are our picks for the best podcasts for kids. We’ve chosen a selection of podcasts from around the world including some great podcasts created here in Australia that parents will love too! Either listen to the podcasts together or give kids some headphones.

Access libraries without leaving home

Although local libraries in the lockdown area are shut, there are lots of great free online library resources you can access without leaving home like ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, music, courses and more.

If kids need help with coursework, there’s a selection of student resources available including DK Find Out!, National Geographic Kids and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Newcastle Libraries also offers Studiosity which provides free access to online tutors for students in years 3-12. It’s available 24/7 all year round, maximum 30 sessions per user, per term. All Maths, English and Science topics are included. To access, just enter your library card number or download the app.

For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home. Just select your library and enter your library card for free access.

While kids are off school, enrol them in the NSW Premiers Reading Challenge. The Challenge aims to encourage a love of reading for leisure and pleasure in students and to enable them to experience quality literature. It is not a competition but a challenge for each student to read, to read more and to read more widely.

Get physical

With kids used to being out on the playground for recess and lunch, don’t forget to provide opportunities for physical movement. A favourite with kids, Go Noodle has loads of movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Your kids have probably played it at school as they partner with teachers to fuel classrooms with videos. Check out the GoNoodle app for iOS.

Practice some yoga poses together and stretch and relax. There are some great YouTube videos on kids yoga that you can enjoy together.  Story Hive Yoga for Kids has sessions that are 25 minutes long – perfect for kids who can’t sit still for long. Cosmic Kids Yoga have yoga, mindfulness and relaxation videos designed especially for kids aged 3 that involves a story.

If you have room inside or out in the yard, do the 7-minute workout app to get some exercise as well. It’s available on iOS and Android.

Keep in touch with friends

The biggest change with homeschooling kids is the social aspect. Kids are used to socialising with their friends at school, both in the classroom and on the school playground. If your kids are missing hanging out with their friends, let them hang out virtually. Set up Facetime or Skype sessions so kids can communicate with their friends. Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts lets them have group video chats if you want to add more than two to the conversation.

Beat boredom

Keeping kids from getting bored at home can be an ordeal especially if you’re a parent working from home. Most of us are so used to getting out and about. There’s no doubt social distancing at home will be an adjustment. Here is a massive list of fun kids activities to keep kids occupied during homeschooling and not get bored. It’s especially useful for preschoolers and kids in primary school who might not have much schoolwork assigned during a shutdown.

Be flexible

COVID-19 has completely upended our lives with no relief in sight. It’s overwhelming for parents and kids alike. If you feel like having a day or two off with no schedule to just enjoy some family fun, do so. We’ve put together a list of 125 fun family activities to do while social distancing. Also, keep an eye out for anxiety in your kids. Newcastle clinical psychologist, yoga teacher & author of the Lessons of a LAC book series, Lynn Jenkins shares practical advice on helping our children weather coronavirus anxiety. If you need some help for your own stress levels, here are some tips to practice self-care during coronavirus.

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