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Lockdowns are ending and kids are returning to school. What lessons can parents take from this experience and how can parents continue to support their child’s learning at home?

There’s no denying it's been a tough few years for parents and their children as everyone struggled to wrap their heads (and time) around remote learning. Many parents suffered enormous stress with their new work from home/remote learning daily routines.

And let’s not forget the amazing teachers who had to quickly adapt themselves, help their students adapt and, on top of it all, coach parents in remote learning. It’s fair to say most parents would have a new appreciation for the teachers in their kids’ lives.

But as kids head back to school, how can parents keep supporting their child’s learning at home? Check out our top tips.

1. Keep working together as a team

We’ve previously shared some great tips for parents from teachers and the very first tip was to work together. Now kids are returning to school, this teamwork doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to stop. You can return to your ‘strictly parent’ role while continuing to support your child’s learning at home.

Speak well of their teacher and continue to stay actively in touch with them. Keep those channels of communication open and running both ways.

Remain actively engaged in your child’s day to day learning and embrace any new processes your child’s teacher or school have implemented.

Stay on top of homework. Read to your child. Have your child read to you.

If your child is anxious about returning to face-to-face learning, support them and their teacher.

2. Reading

There’s no denying, reading to and with your child has endless benefits for them now and into the future. In fact, the Australian Publishers Association states on its website:

‘Reading is good for you and literacy changes lives….Reading for pleasure has been revealed as the most important indicator of the future success of a child (OECD 2002) and improvements in literacy, at any point in life, can have a profound effect on an individual.

The influence of parents, family, school, child care, and the community is essential for creating readers.’

That’s a lot of great reasons to include reading as a daily part of life and a big way you can continue to support your child’s learning at home. And for some icing on the (learning) cake, five benefits of reading for children are:

  • Enhances vocabulary
  • Improves brain function
  • Increases knowledge
  • Sharpens memory
  • Helps develop ‘theory of mind’ - a social-cognitive skill where children learn that people don’t share the same thoughts and feelings as you.

3. Learning through play

We all know play. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, play is play in every culture and socio-economic demographic on earth. And it’s easy to forget children learn through play and research continues to show the benefits kids gain from playing.

It’s great to understand the different types of play and how you can sometimes gently guide them to create more focused play-based learning opportunities.

Self-direction – your child decides what they want to play and how. Parents can supervise or keep an eye on things but for the most part, let the kids get on with playing.

Fun – play is all about having fun. Just let the kids do as they please and have fun doing it.

Unstructured exploration – kids can explore, finding activities or objects they want to engage with, based on their own interests. It’s important to give your children lots of options but, it’s up to the child what they want to play with.

Process-oriented – in this type of play, it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important. There’s no endgame or right answer. It’s how they got there.

Some of the benefits of play-based learning are:

  • Language and literacy
  • Social and emotional skills
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Confidence
  • A positive attitude to learning (great for school!)
  • Motor skills (gross and fine)

4. Play helps develop critical thinking skills

The 2018 Learning through Play UNICEF report gives some great examples of kids learning and developing some critical social and emotional skills through play.

Children at play learn how to:

Make a plan and follow through I want to draw my family. Who will I put in my picture?

Learn from trial and error, using imagination and problem-solving skills My tall tower fell down! Maybe my friend can help build it up again.

Apply concepts of quantity, science and movement to real life I like these big seeds. How many will I need to cover this part of my picture?

Reason in a logical, analytical manner by acting on objects There are still some pieces missing in this puzzle. Which ones might fit?

Communicate with classmates and negotiate differences in points of view I want to be the mother. Could you be the baby? Or maybe the grandmother?

Derive satisfaction from their own accomplishments  We did it together!

Develop creativity and explore aesthetics and artistry I wonder what will happen if I mix these colours together?

5. Mixed emotions

Maybe you’ve had your kids home for hundreds of days, or perhaps just a few. For some, remote learning has been a great joy and helped you bond with your child/ren. For others, it’s been the nightmare from which you thought you’d never wake. And now, perhaps the kids are all over the place with their feelings about going back to school.

It’s okay to feel anxious and worried about sending kids back to school just as it’s okay for kids to be experiencing big feelings right now too. Everyone’s lives have been disrupted and everyone has just done their best.

Follow any guidelines your school has sent out, follow mental health guidelines from your local health service, and if you’re really struggling, reach out for help.

Beyond Blue – 1800 512 348
Lifeline – 13 11 44
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
Head to Health

Parents can support their child’s learning at home in a number of ways. And you might even be a bit relieved that not all of them, like play, involve direct learning.

Another way to support your child’s learning is to invest in their educational futures financially. Keen to know more? Discover how an Education Bond can assist your child’s education journey.