We survived week 2! Well, almost! I'm going to share some tips about surviving the circuit breaker period. Before we start, let's dispel/confirm some myths about Home Based Learning (HBL). I know the word "home based learning" didn't even exist till like a month ago but like so many other things, it could become the new norm. So here goes:
Myth 1: My child must spend the whole day on the computer.
No. In fact, HBL is a often a combination of online quizzes, videos or other online platforms and hardcopy work like activity sheets and craft projects. In fact, every school has a different plan/platform depending on the primary school or pedagogy of the preschool. So, please don't compare, ok?
Myth 2: I have to take over the role of teaching my children at home.
Depending on age, this is true to some extent. I would be lying if I said your child can just listen to the instructions on the computer and complete the work miraculously on his/her own. However, I think the key is managing your own expectations. You are not a trained teacher so there is no need to imagine that you are going to completely take over the role of a teacher (I hope everyone realises by now it takes a certain kind of skillset to teach preschoolers - whether they are your own or not!).
So, how to survive?
Tip 1: Get ready together
Set up an area conducive for learning, such as the dining table or study desk. This should not be where your child sleeps!
The benefit of this is that everything is within reach when you need to complete the HBL and it will be less stressful. Having a dedicated area for this also free up more space in the house. It can be claustrophobic when everyone is at home for prolonged periods of time. So demarcation of areas of work and play is important for everyone’s sanity.
Tip 2: Establish a structure/routine together
Trust me - children thrive on routines. They are also easier to manage when they know what is coming next. For older kids, having a schedule cuts down unnecessary negotiations about what they should or should not do. They are likely to comply when they have a stake in coming up with the daily schedule. So set up a simple routine with them and follow through with it.
I saw a sample of a schedule of a three-year old being posted in one of the articles on www.channelnewsasia.com (Photo: KK Women's and Children's Hospital Facebook). Hope it gives you some idea about what is tolerable for a 3 year old. Basically what you can glean from this is: (1) No activity that stretches beyond 30min. (2) Have a variety of activities (3) Make it visual for them. For older children who are 5 years old and above, you can stretch to 45min to an hour, depending on the child.
I know the next question is this: I need to work from home. How am I going to manage this kind of unrealistic schedule?
Yes, it is true. This is just a guideline of what you can input into your child's daily schedule. You need not follow the exact schedule. Carve out a time that you think you can manage to free up and aim to do some activities during that time. Even if it is one hour during the weekday, it is good enough. If you used to take two hour lunches while you are in CBD, then just take 30 min lunch, 30 min to meditate and that remaining hour to work with your child. Otherwise, do a work around and take 2 hours off work in the day and pay back in the night when the kids are asleep. What to do? We are working parents. In times like these, it is good to have some thoughts about mapping out your "strategy" by exercising some flexibility in balancing between work and parental duties.
Tip 3: Relax
I know it is easier said than done but really, RELAX! Your children are still in preschool! Many a time, when dealing with young children, it is really about managing your own expectations. They may not completely understand why everyone needs to stay in for so long. You have the choice to regulate your emotions and set realistic expectations for your child; or to make every day an emotional roller coaster at home for the next few weeks or a month.
Tip 4: Plan ahead
Do take this time to think about alternative childcare arrangements should the situation change and the number of days for HBL is increased. The situation is highly fluid and everything hinges on the development of the Covid-19 situation in Singapore. Make that mental preparation.