With many people in NSW and elsewhere in Australia looking at the prospects of further COVID lockdowns, parents are facing the ongoing challenge of supporting their children’s learning at home while also trying to work.
Unfortunately there’s plenty of evidence to show that disruption to schooling can have an adverse impact on education, as well as on parents.
The Grattan Institute report into the impact of COVID on school-based learning found that when learning from home, students across the board learnt about 50% of what they normally would learn in class, with the rate of learning decreasing to as low as 25% for students in disadvantaged schools.
When concepts are missed in learning, it can be challenging to develop new skills down the track, so those who fall behind during the school closures will find it difficult to catch up, struggling students can become less motivated, and the problems compound.
How can parents help?
Research shows that learning gaps for students in early primary can become learning chasms in high school. So, what can parents do to support their kids while maintaining their jobs and their sanity?
- You are not your child’s teacher and this is not homeschooling.
Make sure you are in contact with your child’s teachers. Attend as many of the parent/teacher check-ins or meetings offered by the school as you can. If the school offers no formal opportunities to connect, reach out to tell your child’s teacher how they are coping, if they need more or less work. Ask for strategies and ask for feedback.
- Feedback is key to learning. From the research that Cluey did last year in the midst of the first lockdown, it was evident that students who had direct contact with a teacher or tutor fared better during school closures. Feedback makes the biggest difference to learning and academic outcomes. Students are less inclined to complete learning tasks if they will receive no feedback. If it’s difficult for the school to provide personalised feedback, this should be an area of focus for parents.
- Start the day right. Take advantage of the morning. This is one time of the day which many people report has been improved by lockdown, with no rush to commute to work and no battle to get the kids to school. If your children are old enough to enjoy sleeping in, take this time for yourself. Do some meditation or yoga. Go for a walk. Even if you’re determined to start the learning-from-home day at 8.30 on the dot, you can still let the kids sleep and snatch a bit of time to breathe.
- Set goals. Rather than just focusing on what everyone has to do in the day, it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time at the beginning of the day for each member of the household to record their intentions and goals. Showing children how to set goals and intentions builds responsibility and establishes accountability, while the pleasure of ticking them off at the end of the day is highly motivating.
Don’t let your child’s learning gaps become learning chasms
Research from around the world has sounded the alarm about the impact of disrupted schooling on learning. There are genuine concerns in the educational community about the long-term impact on a large number of students.
That is the reason why the UK government, Victorian and NSW governments have invested heavily in funding tutoring programs to support students who have fallen and are falling behind their peers. They recognise the importance of early intervention in the form of tutoring to fill learning gaps and build learner confidence and resilience.
In Australia, Cluey is one official provider of tutoring support to the NSW Department of Education, and also works with individual families across the country to ensure that their children are catching up, keeping up or excelling, and continuing to thrive as learners during this very difficult time.