Homeschooling: it may seem like an odd topic to cover when all you can think about is your child getting through treatment and being okay; when the most important thing right now is avoiding coronavirus – or any virus or infection for that matter.
We understand that getting through treatment is a family’s number one priority. We hear that homeschooling is an added stress that comes up, particularly now with COVID-19. This article covers some ways parents can consider their homeschooling approaches through cancer treatment, and through COVID-19 and beyond.
Working with your values about learning
Before you get into a great debate with your fourteen year old on the correct grammatical structure of their history report, have you thought about what is most important to you both about what your child is learning?
Some parents value grades. For others, it’s effort. For some, it’s listening to the advice of a parent. Other parents value their children’s ability to work on their own or their child’s willingness to ask for help. Some parents prompt with questions so their children will work answers for themselves, and others will point out mistakes, explain or tell stories. There are many parents somewhere in between.
Do you know where you stand on these topics?
There is no right or wrong by the way.
Connecting with your child’s interests
Why is that children can recall the key characteristics of the Triceratops but not necessarily a geometric shape like a dodecagon.
Children tend to learn better when they are interested in a topic, and parents tend to teach better when they are interested in a topic too. Learning happens best when parents and children are both engaged and interested.
Remember your child’s interest can be carried through many school subjects. For example, dinosaurs can be counted, analysed, researched, painted, described in stories, and acted out.
Starting with your child’s areas of comfort
Does your child find it hard to get started? Areas of comfort are the types of tasks your child finds fairly easy to engage in, either because it’s enjoyable or they’re good at it. Your child’s comfort area is good to know as these subjects can be focussed on to get your child started when homeschooling is difficult to begin. If your child finds art easy, then art is a great way to start each learning session.
Aligning with your child’s learning style and personality
Some children need routine, observation, practice and a program, and others need as most flexibility as possible in approach to their learning. Some need quiet and others need music or white noise. Some children need talking and movement, and others need to be quiet and still. Sometimes it takes great patience to see that the child who appears to be talking more than writing is actually operating in line with his learning style!
Making use of incidental learning opportunities
Children going through cancer treatment have been exposed to life experiences quite different to many of their peers. Hospitals, health professionals and services are incidental learnings that children are absorbing. Children may choose to use health and hospital topics as part of their homeschooling assignments. However, it is also completely okay and understandable for them to choose to avoid these topics completely.
Let your child lead the way when there is stress, emotions, pain and nausea
It’s very difficult to learn in an academic way when children are stressed, in pain or unwell. The fight or flight part of their brain tends to take over and can’t easily process new information. Whilst it may not be the time for children to do heavy academic work, children may benefit from art, play or movement at this time. Children are your best guide here.
Other social connections count too
Peer connections, family and friends can be important both socially and educationally for your children who are homeschooling. If you can make use of video chat forums for social catch ups and as help with project work, this could be invaluable for your children. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this. There are others that may want to help.
Redkite is here to support you too
At the end of the day, it’s your rules on how you homeschool. Redkite supports how your family wishes to go about this. If you would like to talk to about your homeschool experiences and cancer, please feel free to contact our Social Work team on 1800 733 548 or firstname.lastname@example.org