We live in a unique time and parents are facing demanding tasks. Before we continue, it is best to let the shoulders sink, relax in the jaw and breathe peacefully. We do our best and more is not possible, but together we get through this situation that has occurred. We are all together in unexpected circumstances, and at the same time, parents need to be friendly to themselves, and also patient towards the school system that was also not ready for this and where people have worked day and night to find solutions in this situation.
Despite the decision to try to keep the school as active as possible at the time of the coronavirus, it is still necessary to use distance teaching to a great extent. It is necessary to bear in mind that the responsibility for the teaching lies with the school, but parents can help and contribute in many ways. In the collaboration about the student everyone is responsible, schools and homes, and it is important to follow the instruction of the school. The main role of the parents in this context is to help the child to follow the instructions of the teachers and the school. Distance teaching of the schools is in many forms, depending on the circumstances in each place, and it is necessary to show patience and to wait for the instructions from schools and the authorities. Older students can to a great extent bear the responsibility to keep in touch with teachers and schools independently, for example with the help of programs such as Google Classroom etc. Younger children need more support. It is important though for parents of children of all ages to supervise and create as good a structure around the child as possible
Let´s create peace and structure
- Let´s have family meetings and discuss about the changed times.
- Let´s keep regular sleeping hours and wake up together in the mornings and prepare ourselves for the day as usually, for example by eating breakfast, dressing and finding out what the tasks of the day are.
- Let´s explain well to the children and youth what coronavirus is and what the ban on public events means (see covid.is and also simplified material for example of the Red Cross and the Directorate of Health). Let´s try to answer all their questions as well as possible.
- Let´s sit down and discuss changed organisation of teaching, let´s explain that now a large part of the study takes place at home and that´s why it is important to create a good structure and get organized, in order not to fall too far behind.
- Let´s get ideas from children on how it would be clear to organize this and let´s create a timetable. If they experience themselves as participants, it could be easier for them accept the structure.
- Let´s assist the child with the homework and the structure of the school day.
- Let´s talk about the study at home in a positive way.
- It is natural to use the technology both for study and for relaxation, but it is important to create a structure around the screen time, as anything else. Balance is the key aspect, now as much as before.
Let´s have realistic expectations
- It is important to create balance in the expectations towards the teachers, children and parents so that the days can serve well.
- Homework can be a good way to create structure and content of the child´s day but it is important to realize that many parents are also working from home. Let´s make realistic demands towards children and adults and not create arguments around homework. Let´s rather be creative in our approach and find ways that fit in each case.
- It varies how parents organize themselves and the family time. You shouldn´t always compare yourself to others, for example on social media, it can be helpful to use good ideas from others. We all try to do our best according to situations and possibilities and there is no one correct way in this. Don´t try to be perfect, let´s rather have reasonable expectations to ourselves and others. Do what works for you and trust that teachers will assist students when schools open again. Children have different needs now as ever and it is important to keep that in mind when creating the structure.
Remember that school bears the responsibility for teaching, but parents create the structure
- If children are in the quarantine, teaching of course takes place where they are located. When teaching is limited because of the ban on public events or the child is sent home, then the distance teaching and home teaching come instead of the traditional teaching.
- Schools still have the teaching duty, although it is of course true that everyone does their best to work together for the benefit of the child. The collaboration about the child is still valid, now more than ever before! Teachers are educated to teach and therefore they are capable in the field. Parents cannot take their place but they can assist.
- Parents can mostly help by assisting their children in following teachers´ instruction and to connect through the distance teaching software if relevant. If the distance teaching doesn´t work as it should, it is important to let the school know and to try to find other solutions so that the student can enjoy teachers´ assistance if he strands in some projects.
- Follow the instruction of the school and organize the day with respect to it. If you need further instruction about the study or explanations, contact the teacher and/or the child´s school, for example through email.
- You can find various study material on the educational page of the Directorate of Education. There is study material accessible in electronic form on the webpage http://fraedslugatt.is. Also, there are exciting projects under way at the National Icelandic Broadcasting Service and the School of Education about which we will hear more in the next days. Also it is worth pointing out the website of the Education Policy of the City of Reykjavík where a tool box is available: http://menntastefna.is/verkfaerakista. The school of education at the University of Iceland has open a website were parents can ask for advice of experts: https://english.hi.is/school_of_education. RÚV has opened opened the website MenntaRÚV where parents and children can find lots of interesting educational shows: https://www.menntaruv.is/. And finally, many different organisations offer interesting and educational entertainment and information for children through the internet, for example Ævar the Scientist shares a daily reading from his book Dinosaurs in Reykjavík, and Sigga Dögg, sexologist, who shares sexual education in direct broadcast while the ban on public events lasts. Detailed information can be found on their websites.
Let´s take breaks from work and study
- Now many of us work from home, and children are either at home or short at school every day. Let´s remember to take breaks and move our bodies. It is good to pause and move if there is a possibility, even if it is only to go into the garden or on a parking lot. There are many outdoor areas out there where it is possible to keep a safe distance to the next person. It is also possible to do exercises indoors, and a lot of information is available online.
- Let´s snack together and take even an opportunity to cook or bake something together.
- Let´s also make sure that there is a limit to work in the home and that evenings are free of work, if possible. The working time should not stretch over all borderlines and be at the cost of the family life, unless there are very special circumstances. Welfare of the children should come first. We also need to take care of our health to be ready to be good parents.
- Let´s take life calmly and let´s discuss how things went today. Let´s show friendliness both to our children and to ourselves.
Let´s be in touch
- In the coming weeks, students will be alone a lot, and it could be clever to work on some projects together online in small groups. Teachers can create online environment around such group work, for example in Google Docs. Many different ways are available.
- It is possible to keep in touch and to have social life by talking on the phone or online.
- Let´s support each other, and if some people use the technology only a little, for example some parents in the class, it is always possible to pick up the phone and get in touch. Maybe we can help.
- Let´s attend to children and families in a sensitive situation and see that they maintain a connection with the society. If we are worried, it is possible to contact the help line of the Red Cross 1717 and the chat thread at raudikrossinn.is . If there is an emergency, it is necessary to call 112.
- If children and other guests come for a visit, it is important to keep a certain distance and to tend to hygiene habits. It is good to get used to washing hands with soap and to apply the alcohol-based disinfection, as soon as you come in.
- Let´s remember to wash hands with soap and use the alcohol-based disinfection, cough into the elbow pit, and keep a certain distance. Otherwise it is good to try to let the life flow as usual and think in solutions. Together we will get through this.