Homeschooling – a time to reflect and be kind!

Editor’s note: Article written before the government’s “step-by-step” deconfinement plan was announced. Crèches, pre-schools and primary schools reopened on Monday.

Parents, teachers and students have been thrown into a second phase of homeschooling in Portugal, with as yet no clear outline from the government as to how education will continue for the immediate future or when a return to physical schools will take place.

No doubt, we all hope that it will be sooner rather than later. It is essential that parents, thrust into the unasked-for role of educators, take the time to reflect on how far they have already progressed. Certainly, one must be kind to oneself in what to date has been a period of anxiety and uncertainty. The role of a teacher and mentor is generally regarded as a vocation, and not a role that the majority of parents anticipated would be thrust upon them.

It has become apparent from the articles in the general press and social media that parents in general do not think themselves worthy or capable of being educators. They have become anxious and frustrated with the additional role that they have had to play in their children’s lives, in what is already an extremely difficult and taxing time.

Parents have commented about how they feel like bad parents if they are unable to fully explain the mathematical equation that their Year 7 child is expected to understand or if they can’t help their child log onto Zoom due to weak internet or lack of skills.

This is all very normal in the unprecedented situation that we all find ourselves in. However, blame and doubt on one’s own abilities should not be cast. Remind yourself that the average teacher has studied for at least four years at university, and undertaken years of classroom practice. Parents were given a day’s notice!

Even in a classroom situation, one must remember that children have different ways in which they learn best, and teachers who they respond more favourably to than others. Most children find their own method of learning that works for them. Parents should not feel disappointed in themselves – rather the opposite.

Sit down with your child and choose the way of working together that suits your home school environment and unique situation. Some parents are working from home, others have three children simultaneously on Zoom, many have piles of worksheets to complete and the whole scenario may at times seem overwhelming!

Vitally, everyone must choose what works best for their own unique domestic scenario and feel empowered and positive by the role that they are playing in the education process. We should all praise ourselves, not doubt, and work collaboratively with your child’s school towards the same shared educational goals.

Happy enriched learners enjoy learning and discovering the world around them with parents who realise their worth and contribution. Parents who appreciate that being kind to oneself in such situations will ultimately reflect in their child’s own positive attitude and spirit.

Inevitably, many parents will still find the situation a challenge. However, the adoption of a few easy-to-put-in-place steps will enhance the experience. Those parents who are already adopting these practices should reflect on how well they are doing.

Ensure that your child has a designated learning space and follow a set routine. Non-schooling time should be filled with outdoor activities, free play and time away from technology. Always remember that work produced by your child does not need to be perfect, in fact, making mistakes is how we all learn.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself and your child, offer them support and encouragement and reflect daily on all of your achievements.

Penelope Best, Head of School,
Eupheus International School, Loulé