Home Schooling In A Pandemic
By: Imrana Mohiuddin (Calgary)
Start of the school year is always a stressful time for both parents and children. But this year due to the pandemic it was an unperceived scenario. Parents are faced with a challenging decision of continuing their children’s education with online learning.
Moreover for most of the parents, online learning is a new experience and at times a very difficult task. They are faced with the challenge of getting into the routine of online learning and also provide variety of options for physical movement of their children.
Furthermore, with the growing numbers of COVID, it appears that we will have to get used to online learning for maybe rest of the school year. IN order to better equip ourselves to the current new normal let’s talk to an expert, one who has expertise in home schooling with her children. Lets weigh in from Musarrat Dadi BSc, MEd, a certified teacher with Calgary Board of Education & Islamic School & mother of 4 busy bees. She has been home schooling her kids since past 5 years. Her favorite pastime is to read a book in a hammock in the woods. Her students call her Mrs. D.
Let’s begin with an important question that most parents have. What’s the number one advice you would give to parents doing home schooling / hub learning this year ?
Mrs. D: ‘Patience and routine’. The mindset with which you are starting sets the stage, feeling nervous is ok but feeling of a burden is not. These are our kids and thus our Ammanah. You can make this year the most memorable or the most miserable year of your and your child’s life. Take it as a blessing that you get to spend time with them, remember quality over quantity. Go slow and easy especially initially. Pack a full bag of patience with you in the morning.
Remember nobody will cheer your child like you do so celebrate the small and big achievements, encourage and motivate. Have an end goal for the year in mind but take a day off if needed.
That’s very valuable advise and I’m sure there’s tons of great points to benefit from.
Next let’s ask another important question that we need to know.
2.How to cover the other aspects of children’s learning apart from academics like social skills, mental growth and physical activity
Social: I always find the social skills question funny because we think having our child sit beside another child his/her is the only way to develop social skills
In this day and age, we need to teach our children to be able to have a decent conversation with the young and old. Sunnah of treating elders with respect and showing mercy to the young comes to mind
After all, we know in the real world we ought to be able to work with every age group
Once you are comfortable with the notion that my kids can socialize with everyone, let’s move on to how in this Covid world
I would suggest to have a cohort group preferably by interest. For example, my son enjoys science hands on projects so I can have a few families in our cohort whose children and my son can work together
Mental health is very important and should be taken seriously.
First of all, we should be good role models in regards to mental health
Questions to ask yourself: How do I react when faced with a tough situation? Am I resilient? What helps me come out of that situation? How do I manage stress, anxiety etc.?
Also I find it helpful to talk with the children in simple yet profound sentences such as “let’s give our worry away to Allah, he has the solution of everything, after all he created us”.
“I wonder what the Prophet saw would have taught the Sahabas if they felt angry like this?”
“Do you need a minute to yourself, I will wait to talk to you”
It is very important that we make physical health a priority
With summer behind us, we should still strive to go for walks, parks etc. Build in the days schedule for 30-40 minutes outdoor recess. Activities such as skiing, sledding etc. are still a good option during Covid in the winter
For the very cold days there is plenty to do in terms of physical activity. Turn on your computer and work through a fitness video together.
Also allow room for easy movement around the house, maybe it is time to put away the second couch, decorative pieces, huge coffee table etc. away in the basement to allow for free space to play tug a war, blind fold tag, to pretend the carpet is the ocean and be able to jump on green cushions for earth, obstacle course, climb stairs after every 40 minutes of work etc.
Setting a time for school work and having a set schedule is always a challenge.
3.How to have a set schedule for daily learning and manage focused learning at home in spite of all the distractions
Routine is going to very important for a successful year. Once established your life is going to get easy.
Stick to your routine very closely during the first few weeks and it will become second nature in the house InshaAllah
First figure out what is important to have in your daily schedule and go from there. I would recommend not to start with timed schedule but rather what happens when except for sleeping and waking up times.
For example, for our family, kids and I like to have breakfast together in the morning while listening to the morning Azkaar. So if the Azkaar have started playing on the speakers the child knows they better hurry downstairs.
When the kids know they have the two core subjects before lunch and two after lunch, they are mentally prepared. Incorporating things such as stem Fridays, baking Thursdays, crafty Mondays etc. helps keep the routine lively and something to look forward to
Let your child know of expectations but take suggestions from them so they are more willing to follow it
Prep work on our end will make life easy such as meal prep done before hand for example, so we are not thinking what should I cook at 11 when lunch is in an hour, is the stationery in place or my child running to look for a pencil every other hour, have their work in their “work” bin. Chores can be scheduled as a family every evening so you are not cleaning the study space right before study time, are the younger ones in the house occupied, do I have a book in hand readily available when my children are working on their independent work or will they see me with my phone the entire time, are we eating dinner on time so the transition to sleep is easier etc. Remember our day starts at maghrib Alhamdullilah so we should plan for the next day before sleeping InshaAllah.
Alhamdulillah we have learnt so much from Mrs. D's insightful answers. I hope these answers have helped us to plan better for this school year and are more confident to embark on the learning journey of our children.