Home-school survival guide

Queensland home education expert’s advice for parents.

With many Queensland school students studying at home due to coronavirus (COVID-19), parents face the daunting task of ensuring their kids continue their education.

The Queensland University of Technology’s home education expert Dr Rebecca English said parents should be confident in their home-schooling abilities.

"Parents, you were your child's first teacher,” Dr English said.

“You’re still the biggest influence in their life so be confident. You’ve got this.”

Dr English said the key to enjoying home-schooling was to embrace the extra time with your children, plan the day together and be flexible.

“It’s so important to keep remembering we really are all in this together and no-one is judging you,” she said.

“Try not to stress about what your child is missing out on with their schoolwork.

“This problem isn’t confined to you, your school, your local area, even your state or country. 

“Every single child in your child’s age group is facing the same impacts on their education right now.”

Dr English said many parents and children would be working at home together, so it was important to sit down and involve everyone in working out a daily schedule.

“It’s amazing how quickly children rise to the challenges we set them,” she said.

“If we treat them like people who can be partners in meeting the whole family’s needs, they’ll probably surprise you and make it work.”

Dr English said parents shouldn’t feel pressure to fill a normal six-hour school day.

“Schools go for six hours a day because of all the structures around schooling and the extra things that take up time,” she said.

“I think most primary schoolers will be able to get their work done in two or three hours and most high schoolers in three to four hours. 

“Try to get as much as you can done in the morning and use gentle limits if you are insisting something gets done. Don’t cave and let them on the iPad or Xbox too early.”

Dr English’s top home-school tips

Plan the day

  • Remember that school at home isn’t school at school.
  • Include your kids in planning the day with you.  If they are an active part of the planning, they are less likely to rebel against the work.

You don’t have to get everything done today

  • If something’s not working, try something different and come back to it tomorrow.
  • Take time to ‘de-school’ – children need to get used to being more in charge of their learning and education, rather than leaving all the decisions to teachers/school.

Learning opportunities are everywhere

  • Make the most of your home environment. Look at all the learning opportunities involved in cooking: literacy when reading the recipe, maths with proportions and fractions, science when it cooks/bakes.

Relax and reconnect

  • We all outsource so much of our children’s experiences to other people, so how wonderful to have this opportunity to reconnect with our children and see their unique gifts and skills.