OG Bridget Slater (Class of 1998) has extensive experience in teaching online and distance education. She is available for tutoring and teaching support over this difficult period of online education we are facing.
While there is uncertainty in what format of teaching will be available for students in Term Two it appears more than likely that there will be an online compenent that may vary in its format between the various schools. While Somerville House has been utilizing zoom to provide "Somerville@home" providing a comprehensive service of virutal interactive lessons online, other schools may not have access to the same kind of technology. For many families they may be contemplating just how they might be able to facilitate learning in the home environment with online support. They may also be working from home making it difficult and stressful to identify just how it will all work. Someone with Bridget's experience may hold the key to finding a working solution.
Bridget worked as a governess for distance education for two tears as well as teaching English online for two years in Japan. She currently works as a relief teacher working at St Ignatius Toowong, Ironside State School and Churchie. Please see her profile within our Directory of Tutors https://www.somervillehouseoga.com.au/page/directory-of-tutors.
Bridget offers the following practical and helpful tips to keep in mind especially relating to younger children;
1. Try and make a plan for yourself for the day and week.
If you know what lessons are coming for your children have the materials out and ready at the start of the day, it will make it easier when you get to that lesson. If you're going to be doing a hands on maths lesson later in the day, try and have everything set to go at the beginning of the day as the time spent setting it up later you will lose the children's hard fought for attention.
2. If you can start earlier in the day do so, and make a routine to the same time everyday.
Often children seem most focused in the mornings, so use that lack of commute time to get them started. Have a few regular things that they always do in the morning to get them focused and ready. Often in class this will be doing their spelling, handwriting, or independent maths activities. If you put this routine into place, and each of your children know what they are doing each morning it should be less of a fight. Most younger children can tell you the classroom routine their teacher was following so you can ask them to write this out and following that. If you start early finish early, this will hopefully give you time in the afternoon to focus on your work, hopefully.
3. Watch the instructional videos before your children.
If the school asks them to watch a video with a new concept in it, watch it before they do. Even if this is something you do the night before if you know it is coming up, it will help. This is especially important with Maths concepts as the language has changed over time and this language is what the children will be hearing when they get back in the classroom. It will also help you to know how to explain the concept to your children. It is fine to Google stuff. I know that seems logical but sometimes it feels like you should know everything, but primary school was a long time ago and somethings we were not taught.
4. If things don't get finished one day just leave them until tomorrow.
Obviously if they have a hard due date and they're not done this doesn't apply, but having a tray of yet to be finished is actually quite handy. The children know what they are doing - they just haven't finished it yet, so if you have an unexpected work meeting, direct them to any unfinished work. They should be able to finish these independently. It is ok if the task says it's 20 minutes but your child isn't finished in the specified time. Check that they understand the task, but if they are just plodding along, give them time.
5. Divide into independent and facilitated work.
With multiple ages in the school room, you are going to spend most of your time focused on your youngest learner. Look at the work and see what you are going to need to be engaged with and what you can set up and leave. Alternating between independent for the older and younger children will give you a chance to work with different children over the day. This means that if you can plan your day out, their independent work time will hopefully align with your meeting times. If you have older children and younger children ask the older children to explain the concepts to the younger children. This is actually a way for the older children to have concepts reinforced for themselves, especially in Maths and Grammar.
6. Take anything offline that you can.
Right now there will be a lot of online lessons and programs and this will mean a lot of sitting. If you feel confident to try and have some activities that are not tied to the computer, I am sure the amazing teachers will have lots of things for you to do, so if there is a game that can be played outside, take it outside. It will give the chilren a break and add some energy back into the classoom. Art is often great to do outside because the mess can just be hosed away. There are lots of websites going around like "Teacher Starter" or "Teachers Pay Teachers" that have games connected to various Maths and English concepts that an be played at the kitchen table with the family. Things like charades with spelling words is a fun one to play, this is helping cement the meaning of the word and giving them a chance to practice their drama skills - and also very funny.
Mostly it's ok to have bad days doing this, and it's ok to struggle with things, be kind to yourself. If things are not working, change it up. If you have spent 20 minutes trying to explain a Maths concept, leave it and try again tomorrow. I always have a chapter book on hand that I am reading to the children. If all else fails and things are not going well, just drag that out and read a couple of chapers - it seems to be a reset for the day.
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