PARENTING

How to keep your kids busy at home

We should go out of our way and replicate school situation in the home.

In Summary
  • This is the time you should also utilise to inculcate life skills in the child.
  • No war in the history of the world has forced such a large population of learners at a single time to be out of class.
A father homeschools his son.
LEARNING: A father homeschools his son.
Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

More than 1.5 billion children globally have been forced by Covid-19 to stay at home. Kenya’s contribution to the figure is 18 million. No war in the history of the world has forced such a large population of learners at a single time to be out of class. Nobody knows when the problem will end. It is a game of groping in the dark for governments, teachers, parents and learners.

Many experiments have been made to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on school attendance. In Kenya, we have been told digital learning is the panacea. This has involved use of online learning, education television and radio programmes. Homeschooling has also been touted as a solution.

But none of the so-called solutions can be a replacement to face-to-face interaction that was suspended immediately the first coronavirus case was reported in the country. Technology in learning can never replace the teacher now or in posterity. It should remain just that—an instructional resource. All these ‘magic bullets’ should simply be pursued as measures to keep the learner busy.

 

Parents, and this is not peculiar to Kenya, have a tendency to throw their children to the care of teachers. We should learn to stay with our children. It’s important to have unfettered time with them so that we can bond, understand them and inculcate in them a sense of responsibility.

We should go out of our way and replicate, to some extent, the school situation in the home. We should begin by appreciating the fact that the school is first and foremost an agent of socialisation. Fortunately, this is also what the home is. Begin by coming up with a routine and a new set of rules. Hold a candid discussion with the child on this.

Do not be rigid on the time a child should spend reading. Remember that the pandemic is a stressor to the child too. Encourage consultation between the child and any member of the family knowledgeable in an area.

Next, help the child to create a study area. This should be a place with minimal distraction. The ideal should be a quiet place. This, however, may not be possible for all families. Nonetheless, anywhere in or outside the house can serve the purpose. Ensure that the child has everything needed to learn. Sit together and, depending on his or her age, help them to develop a timetable. Let the document be in harmony with the one for KICD in case the child is able to follow the programmes.

Ensure that the all the subjects covered at school have been captured in the timetable. Let the child also cater for play and breaks. There should also be moments where the family comes together and shares experiences. We can read, play, sing, tell and listen to stories, eat or work together. This is the time you should also utilise to inculcate life skills in the child. Remember that schooling does not only involve passing exams but equally entails learning.

Encourage the child to read—both textbooks and creative works. This is the time revision books come in handy. These books take the child through the processes of arriving at solutions hence whether a parent or guardian is literate or not, the child will go through them with least assistance. Do not be rigid on the time a child should spend reading. Remember that the pandemic is a stressor to the child too. Encourage consultation between the child and any member of the family knowledgeable in an area.

We should take solace in the fact that eventually, schools will be reopened. The situation calls for patience and tact in how we go about handling it.

Ultimately in the 'new normal' dispensation we have to re-examine our teaching methodologies. It’s time teachers embraced blended learning and the flipped classroom approach to instruction.

 

This calls for improvement in teacher education programmes and a mental shift in teacher attitude to technology enhanced learning. On its part, the government and other stakeholders in the sector should provide the much-needed infrastructure.

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