Supporting parents with at-home learning

April 5, 2020

Psych4Schools thanks our nation’s teachers and school support staff who have spent weeks preparing and delivering teaching and learning packages for students and families to support at-home learning. Carefully selected physical materials will help cater for the diverse needs of learners and those without access to remote learning tools. For many there will be some adjustment as families learn how to access and safely use online learning tools.

Psych4Schools continues to support teachers, psychologists and other school support staff who are managing many additional issues as coronavirus impacts on learners and families. In response to the COVID-19 crisis Psych4Schools is now open to parent membership. We invite schools to encourage parents or carers to take up our special offer.

In this challenging period learners and their families will benefit from regular, clear communication about the range of short activities and open-ended tasks to be completed each week or over a longer period. Communicating with students and families using a combination of letters, emails, phone calls and online learning platforms can help to effectively convey expectations.

Parents will need support in establishing routines and quiet learning environments for their children that fit around one or more adults in the household trying to maintain full-time work, manage finances in situations of job loss, often also supporting several children in the household with competing needs. They may need advice around safely setting up online learning tools and appropriate supervision. The eSafety Commissioner’s website assists Australians to have safer and more positive online experiences.

Reassure parents and carers that the expectations of at-home learning will not be the same as learning at school. Encourage them to be flexible about what and how their child learns and to check in with their child frequently, as an interested parent not as a teacher, to see how their child is going. Provide checklists for students and families showing what needs to be completed, any milestones and expected time-frames. Provide guidance about how students can seek help from peers and their teachers.

Most importantly, support families in looking after wellbeing. Suggest frequent breaks including time to move, a supply of water to drink and regular nutritious snacks. For families experiencing heightened anxiety, Psych4Schools offers wellbeing resources for parents with examples of practical strategies to assist with their own stress and worry and how to assist their children manage their emotions. Where students have additional learning needs the Psych4Schools website has a number of ebooklets with ideas that will help parents to guide their children’s learning needs.

The Psych4Schools website has many FREE online resources to support teachers, psychologists, other school support staff and parents, including:

  • Over 100 blogs including advice and suggestions related to helping children with emotional regulation, making calm books, technologies for children with dyslexia (reading and writing), helping children make and keep friends, writing a gratitude journal, word games, through to the importance of children taking ‘brain breaks’.
  • Nearly 40 published excerpts of ebooklets introducing practical strategies to assist children experiencing anxiety or depression, those with ADHD, or learning and emotional difficulties such as mild intellectual disabilities, through to assisting those who are gifted. (The members section offers support packages on anxiety, behaviour support, friendship difficulties, giftedness and learning difficulties).
  • Wellbeing resources for parents with examples of practical strategies to assist with their own stress and worry and how to assist their children manage their emotions.
  • Practical behaviour support and student management strategies on 10 key topics that concern teachers that can be adapted to the home setting, for example strengthening relationships with needy children, building resilience and problem solving, and working with children who bully or tease others. (The membership section carries many more practical strategies.)

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Murray Evely, Psych4Schools Psychologist/Guidance Officer