An Unusual Start.

Image source; https://sport.vic.gov.au/

Unusual: not habitual or commonly occurring or done.

Has there ever been a more unique start to a term? We are making history. This week; the official start for most Victorian Primary Schools, I will share the teachers perspective on what the first day looks like, so that we can link it to you at home.

Overseeing the learning within first week of term was a large component of my coaching portfolio for two years in a school of about 900 children and 70 educational staff. It holds incredible impact on learning outcomes, so bare with me if I get a little passionate.

The first week of every term has the same goal; build a CONNECTION to the space, the learners and the learning.

So how does this translate to home?

As home educators at this time our directions come from our children’s school. Let me support you while you navigate the school priorities and teacher requests within your home.

The goal this week in your home is not curriculum. Not academic. Not to get through printables. Your goal this week is to set up a solid learning mindset. This will ensure longevity of focus in your space and independent learners that are driven by curiosity. Remember; we may have 4 weeks left of this, that’s a lot of printables if we (the parent educators) continue to provide and lead the learning. Let’s hand it over to the children.

Engagement and connection now, will save you later.

We have diversity from school to school. Some schools have provided structured days and programs for the children. Excellent. Some have not. Also excellent. What should you do?

Fill in the gaps.

Now you may have a child who just ‘naturally’ wants to sit and a desk and work. As a parent educator, let’s go deep into the educator side of things. We don’t necessarily want the child to sit and ‘work’ quietly. We want them to learn. We are building life long learners here, with an “I’m curious” mindset. So we have to show them how to ‘switch on’ their brains to be stimulated and engaged.

To fill the gaps and go deeper, we start with the children. Ask the child what their classroom looks like, how their teacher organises the day, when in the day you have lunch (keep it simple, they may respond “after snack.”) or what do you do in the library? This shouldn’t be time consuming. Keep it 10 minutes in length, but it will give you guidance as to what they will need to fulfil their CONNECTION. It also gives them some juicy collaboration which they are missing from their classroom.

For example, they may respond;

“We have a timetable on the board with pictures of our lunchbox and a book for when we have to eat and read.” – Fantastic, could they draw and recreate that at home? Absolutely. There’s a short connection task.

Sourced from; https://www.youclevermonkey.com/2016/11/how-to-teach-telling-time.html
It’s not as gorgeous as the printables you see on Google Images, but it has a far deeper impact on children’s connection and depth of learning.

“We have a picture of someone listening attentively at the front to remind us to listen properly and not daydream.” – Beautiful, could we take a photo of our child learning and post it in their learning space at home? Even pop some writing about what they would look and sound like? There’s a short engagement task for you.

“In the library, we borrow books each week and put them on our table ready for reading. So one day we read a novel, then we might read a non-fiction and a picture story book. You know Mum!” – Wonderful, could we choose four books to pop on our desk or in our basket for the next two weeks? In fact, do it now and justify on a page with sketches, drawings or words why this text will be your focus for two weeks. There is the building blocks of curriculum learning here.

Use a book box to set up a ‘Mini Library’ on the desk. This holds attention as every time the child gets up to find a book it wipes their memory! Ensure they keep no more than 4 books at their desk for a minimum of a week (at least) to ensure depth of learning.

And my favourite, when we ask; “how come you haven’t cleared the dining table, how do you organise your table at school?”

And they walk straight into it; “we all have jobs and we have monitors who check on us. Also, we don’t get to go out to play if it’s not orderly.” Boom. Parent educator 101. Copy that teacher! From day one, ensure the space is orderly each and every time we change subjects, tasks or activities.

This is a SLOW BURN.

The key question to ask as parent educators in our first few weeks of home education is;

“What do we want our children to walk away with this week?”

A solid attitude? A drive to go deeper with learner as oppose to; I’m finished, what next? A 20 minute reading focus? A strengths-based mindset? I can’t decide that for you, but as the supervisor (and potentially a facilitator) of their learning this week, this is your vision. So when you look at the time and think “they have only been learning for 30 minutes, I can’t do any longer,” you reflect on your vision. Are they one step closer to that 20 minute focus? Yes. Then you are both a success, time for a snack!

This should not replace the information and learning from your school, it is supplementary. However some schools are yet to launch a remote portal. We are setting the child up to lead their learning. So initially, there will be effort and energy required on your behalf.

In the words of Dr Suess, ‘life is a great balancing act.’ Home education is the same. We are balancing child learning needs with our needs. Don’t re-invent the wheel, the teachers are putting their all into learning tasks for the children, follow them as best you can, but put some time into setting up LEARNING that your children can collaboratively lead. It’s not about ‘busy work.’ “The child is quiet so they are learning.” I mean, some days it will be, but try to go deeper, just like we expect them to. Ask them to create a fractions worksheet instead of printing one off. Request a reading worksheet for tomorrow on the main character, let them CREATE.

You will surprised at what they can do. Just imagine the advantages these disciplined, motivated learners will have come high school?!

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