Ahmad, please for God’s sake listen to me and complete your worksheet because I have to do the household chores. The mother of the seven-year-old was pleading him. But Ahmad was more interested in standing on his head rather than listening to his mother. The mother constantly informed the child to behave and on many occasions dragged him down to sit properly and complete the worksheet. However, neither Ahmad was ready to do the worksheet nor his mother knew how to motivate him. The mother’s tussle concluded with a prayer for the end of COVID-19 pandemic and reopening of schools.
The pandemic has made countries to take unprecedented measures to avoid the spread of the virus and school closure is one of them. This situation not only affects the socio-economic and educational development of children but has also an enormous impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of children and families. The parents and families in Chitral rely greatly on schools and teachers to educate their children. However, the situation of COVID-19 pandemic threw back the responsibility on parents and families’ shoulders which make them burdensome and confused. The above-described tug of war between a child and his mother demonstrates how the additional burden has confused parents to balance teaching children and household or work responsibilities. Homeschooling seems fancy when professionals describe it but the ground realities make it compound by economic instability, social isolation, and workload pressure. In some instances, this extra burden transforms the peaceful home environment into a traumatic one.
Research shows that 0-8 years is critical for children holistic and brain development. The optimal brain development requires a safe, stimulating and enriching learning environment, adequate nutrition, and a responsive social interaction under the supervision of a caring adult. However, the current pandemic situation restricts the children access to those opportunities and fertile the ground for toxic stress in children by unsafe conditions, lack of educational opportunities, exposures to outdoor activities and many more.
Such situations aggravate emotional stability resulting in more damage to the children’s development and emotional wellbeing. It also generates aggression in parents’ behaviour which sometimes leads them to abuse the children. In such situations, parents usually blame the children that they do not study and are restless. However, if we put ourselves into children’s shoes we will realize how much children are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. They are cut off from their daily routine in which they go to school, meet their friends and follow the school timetable. They used to entertain the weekends and vacations because parents use to take them to meet their relatives or for an outing. Now they are confined to the home environment for an unknown period because of the coronavirus. Consequently, they are bored, depressed and having difficulty in adjusting themselves in a confusing and an unpredictable environment. They sometimes do not meet the expectations of their parents regarding learning because of the gap between school and home environments. Therefore, as a parent and families, we have to understand children’s feelings and instead imposing our expectations on them we have to acknowledge children’s needs and try to meet their expectations. We have to recognize that children are depressed as they are out of their routine. They miss their school, friends and daily routine. As this situation is quite different from vacations because in vacation children plan and involve themselves in certain activities and it is for a limited time. However, this vacation is confined children to their homes and they are not sure when it is going to an end.
As parents and families, we have to accept that the reality of schooling is changed and now we have to transform our homes into schools, play areas, and place for learning, enjoyment and development. We have to extend our roles and include the responsibility of a teacher and educator. To go with that we need a little planning and utilize our wisdom and creativity to change this challenge into an opportunity for ourselves and our children. Let’s see how we can utilize this challenge as an opportunity.
- This is a great opportunity for us to spend quality time with our children. In this way, we will better understand each other and nurture our relationship and attachment. Thus, building a good relationship with our children will nourish the elements of respect, care, integrity, resilience, social and emotional wellbeing.
- We can avail this opportunity to instill life skills in our children so we make them a responsible citizen of the 21st We can do this by involving them in daily chores such as cooking, washing, cleaning, gardening and many more.
- This is an opportunity to guide our children to learn about things in their surroundings with practically interacting with them which is crucial for their conceptual clarity. The concepts which are in the textbooks have a direct link with the things in our environment. I believe that the prescribed textbooks are just one resource which is significant in developing children’s reading and comprehension skills. The rest of the knowledge is just around us and are embedded in our daily practices. When we provide opportunities to our children to interact with their natural environment, they will develop the skills and attitude of observation, critical thinking, problem-solving and many more. Thus, they will come up with ways to solve environmental issues and make it a safer place for them and future generations.
- This is a good time to develop our children resilience and adaptability by involving them in daily tasks. So they will understand themselves and can deal with life challenges and convert them into opportunity.
- It is a great opportunity to make our children take charge of their learning and move towards learning to learn.
- This situation opens a window for our children think ahead, prepare themselves and use the precautionary measures to deal with the circumstances of COVID-19 and similar conditions in future.
To proceed with our new job as an educator and transforming our home into school we have to take certain steps which are as follows.
- Allocate one room or a corner of the room as a classroom and keep the stationery and textbooks and notebooks in that room or corner. So our children can easily access them and also it gives the outlook of the classroom.
- Develop a routine timetable with the consensus of your children and keep more than one activity in a one-time slot so you can use one activity as a motivation or reward for the next activity.
- Display the routine timetable in a visible place and follow it regularly
- Provide the opportunity to your child/children to pick the activity and remember to make the learning enjoyable for your children.
The given sample routine will give you an idea of how to develop one by your children. When they develop the routine timetable they will take responsibility and accountability to follow it. If you make one for them then the responsibility goes to you and believe me sometimes it is really hard to make children follow your developed timetable. You can help little children by asking for their choice and write the routine for them. This sample routine timetable has developed by an 8 years old boy with the help of his mother. Hope this will give you a glimpse of better homeschooling for your children.