Dealing with the fallout of Queensland's school closures

How to teach your children from home.

In a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), all Queensland schools will go student-free from today.

While there may be no students, schools across the state will remain open until the end of term on 3 April for children of essential workers  and teachers to plan for the move to remote learning.

The move has been met with both praise and criticism in the community, but QUT home education expert Dr Rebecca English said the closure of schools did not have to spell disaster for families or negatively affect students’ education.

“The first thing to realise is yes, it will be very different and a learning curve, but that’s okay,” she said.

“It’s not going to be like school, and parents and children are going to go through a period of adjustment.

“But I think it’s important to think positively about it and see it as an adventure and help your child see it as an adventure – set a positive tone.”

Dr English said she had been inundated with calls from parents wanting advice on how to replicate the classroom at home.

“It’s natural that parents might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of their children doing more schoolwork at home,” she said.

“But don’t think you’ll be sitting at the kitchen table for six hours – you won’t be. Schools have so much else going on that takes up time. 

“I would anticipate that, if your school is setting work to do at home, you’d probably be able to comfortably do the work in a couple of hours.”

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while the advice from the Chief Health Officer was that schools could remain open, they needed to start preparing for potential closures in the coming weeks.

“This will not be a normal school break,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It is vital that parents take responsibility for their children during this time.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said schools would use the reduced attendance to prepare for a potential move to students learning from home permanently.

“We are planning for every eventuality when it comes to this global pandemic,” Ms Grace said.

“Currently we have two weeks’ worth of learning available to students to use at home and that will be constantly updated for as long as necessary.”

For more information and frequently asked questions by parents, click here.

Dr English’s tips for parents teaching their children at home:

  1. Involve your child in planning how they want to structure their learning. If they have a say in it, it’s harder for them to get out of doing it.
  2. Be flexible. If it’s not working (particularly with younger children) have a break and try again in a little while.
  3. Set gentle limits. Kids of all ages have to learn they have to finish the job or they can’t watch TV, play games etc.
  4. Be firm – don’t cave after setting those limits.
  5. Remember there are lots of learning opportunities associated with everyday activities at home, e.g. cooking, gardening, reading books.
  6. Use Facetime or phone calls for children who are missing their friends.