Home-Based Learning

It’s new for everyone

Teachers, students and parents are quickly adapting to home-based learning as the need for Covid-19 physical distancing increases. It’s new for us all and teachers are providing lessons for students in attendance at school and at home as not all students can stay home at this time. Teachers are planning for one mode of learning for students. 

You don’t need to suddenly become your child’s full time teacher. Every child needs you to continue to be their mum, dad or carer. Even if your child is not at school or doing all the activities set by their teacher, they are learning everyday in many ways. 

Home learning is not:

  • A replication of classroom learning 
  • Distance learning - your teacher will continue to guide student learning and interact with students 
  • E-learning or online learning - students will continue to do offline learning activities including reading, art, music, exercise and interaction with parents or siblings.

Home-based  learning looks a little different for students, teachers and parents in different schools.

The challenge is how to best translate classroom programs to a home-based learning environment in a way that students and families can manage, with the aim of ensuring continuity of learning. 

Together we can make it work

Home-based learning will be most successful when your school has your support as they continue to modify classroom learning for home. Broken Bay school leaders and teachers have done an incredible job, creatively preparing students for learning at home. Initial feedback is that parents have also embraced the challenge with courage and good humour. 

Your child's school will have already communicated with you and provided learning activities for your child to do at home, using their normal communication methods such as the school website, email, Zoom, Google Classroom and Seesaw. Schools are also suggesting and resourcing non-digital, off-line strategies. 

The general advice that follows has been adapted from a range of authoritative education and health organisations including the NSW Departments of Health and Education, Catholic Schools NSW, The Australian e-Safety Commissioner.

Key considerations

  • Establishing routines and expectations
  • Setting up a learning environment
  • Wellbeing
  • Communicating
  • Using technology

Key considerations

You can provide support for your children by:

  • establishing routines and expectations
  • identifying a comfortable location in their home where they can work effectively and successfully
  • monitoring communications from teachers
  • talking to your child about the learning and supporting where you can
  • encouraging physical activity and/or exercise
  • checking in with your child regularly, especially at the beginning and end of each day (See some possible questions below)
  • monitoring what activities and how much time your child is spending online
  • keeping your children social, but set rules around their social media interactions.

Depending upon the age of your child/ren, encourage their sense of responsibility for their own learning including

  • establishing and/or following a daily routine for learning whilst also giving children some choice over their day if appropriate.
  • regularly monitoring digital platforms and communication to check for announcements and feedback from teachers
  • completing tasks to the best of their ability
  • doing their best to meet timelines, commitments, and due dates
  • communicating proactively with their teachers if they are finding difficulty in completing a learning task, require additional support or cannot meet a deadline
  • collaborating and supporting their classmates in their learning
  • complying with the relevant Broken Bay Diocesan policies regarding the use of digital devices and online services.

Establishing routines and expectations

A schedule or timetable for home-based learning should include regular breaks for activity, eating and drinking. In the activity breaks, it is important that students get up and move around.

You may have already established routines and expectations to ensure regular hours for school work wherever possible.

Keep normal bedtime routines for younger children and expect the same from your older primary and high school-aged children too.

It is important that you set these expectations as soon as home-based learning is implemented to avoid a child beginning to struggle because of the absence of routine.

Setting up a learning environment

There is the ideal and then the reality. Here’s the ideal. Try to create a quiet and comfortable learning space. Your child may have a regular place for doing homework under normal circumstances, but this space may not be suitable for working in for an extended period of time. A space/location for extended learning should be a public/family space, not in a bedroom. It should be a place that can be quiet at times and have a strong wireless internet signal, if possible. Above all, it should be a space where you or another adult is present and monitoring their learning. Refer to the NSW Department of Education Learning environment checklist for more advice.

Then there’s the reality. There may be more than one child engaged in home-based learning. One or both parents may also be working from home. Given increased demands on broadband services, there may be decreased service. Not everyone in the family may be able to use a device at the same time. An HSC student may need to take priority for a learning space; a baby in the household may affect learning conditions. If you are trying to manage learning with several children you might prioritise the best learning space for different children at different times of the day.

The reality is we do our best for each child and person in the family in the circumstances as they change.

Communicating with your child

Not all children thrive in a remote learning environment; some struggle with too much independence or lack of structure and regular check-ins can help keep them on track.

In the morning, you could ask:

  • What are you learning today?
  • What are your learning goals?
  • How will you be spending your time?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What help do you need?

In the afternoon, use these check-in ideas:

  • What did you learn today?
  • Acknowledge one thing that was difficult. Either let it go or come up with a strategy to deal with the same problem if it comes up again.
  • Consider three things that went well today. Why were they good?
  • Are you ok? Do you need to ask your teacher for something? Do you need help with something to make tomorrow more successful?

These specific questions matter because they allow your child to process the instructions they have received from their teachers and help them organise themselves and set priorities. Older students may not want to have these check-ins with parents (this is normal!), but encourage them anyway. 

Communicating with your school

Many schools will be using a learning management system such as Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, Class Dojo or Compass.  The Principal and your child's teacher/s will be communicating with you regularly.

Teachers may have set times when students can chat with them online. When digital options are not possible there may be scheduled times for calling your child on the phone. You may need to remind your child to be patient when waiting for support or feedback.

You can explore parent behaviour support ideas to support learning and wellbeing at home. 

Acknowledgement: We gratefully acknowledge the NSW Department of Education for adapting content from their Learning at Home website for this document.