Special Correspondence from our tutor in the field | Part 2

Bonas MacFarlane

Phoebe Taylor is a qualified teacher with over four years of experience in the classroom. Since September 2020, Phoebe has been helping families throughout the pandemic with tutoring and homeschooling assignments. Here are some of her top tips for helping children through this period.

Tip No. 3: Navigating Uncertainty 

Noone, of any age, really enjoys a feeling of uncertainty. Helping children to manage it is similar to how you would manage it yourself. There really does not seem to be a difference in how a 5 year old will manage uncertainty compared to a 19 year old. Students of all ages will most likely benefit from:

  • Give them certainty day to day through routine. Share the routine with them and follow through with the routine. Once you have done this a few times, there is no question and the kids know where they are/are going to be and there is little resistance. If there is resistance, ignore it and carry on until they get the message. This takes away anxiety about uncertainty because a new routine has been established for the time being. The routine will not always work with inevitable last minute things coming up, that is fine, just go back to the routine as soon as you can. 
  • Kids are very good at being, “in the now” but keep them in the loop. If you know that schools will close next week, tell them, but also tell them how their day will look moving forward and tell them how long it will last. Many kids will just want to know how they will be affected, they do not need to know every little detail, but enough so that they can see where they are.
  • Allow activities which they would never be able to have done had they been in school, eg every day you have lunch with them and go for a 20 minute walk. This is something which will be precious when it all goes back to normal. It might be that they are able to start a new hobby or project which they find interesting – encourage them to do this.

Tip No. 4: Work with school teachers

Teachers  are human too. They’re navigating to this situation and doing their best to keep everyone informed, but if you are a bit unsure never be afraid to ask for further clarity. 

It is really important that the children know that you know exactly what the teacher knows Send an email and ask for a breakdown: 

  • What is due for homework each week? 
  • On which days should these subjects/specific tasks be submitted? 
  • How long, roughly, should a task take? 

Then write out a simple timetable and show it to your child. 

It is also useful to know that, if lessons are being done online, you can control certain aspects of the day, but the rest is up to the teacher and the students. Verbalise this to the student by saying, 

“It is up to you to get the most out of your lessons. This will mean you will stay on track. If you need help with some homework, which are they?”.

 You can then have clearly assigned time for when your child is to be working independently as well as time when you can assist i.e. homework. 

Work out when your child needs you to intervene/ Getting a straight answer from a child, that they are struggling can be hard, especially when they often do not know what they do and don’t need help with. It is worth asking their teacher, “where do they struggle the most?” and start by helping them there. Once this is done, students often feel that the hard work has been done/they have support with the daunting parts and they are more likely to take ownership themselves over the rest, which feel a lot more manageable.