Teaching Tips for Parents
I have proudly been a teacher with the Queensland Department of Education since 1987. Most of my working life has been part time as a relief teacher, so like you, my job has been to come in and teach when your children’s usual teacher is not around. This has given me a unique perspective on different teaching styles, a wealth of great ideas and a great respect for my colleagues who work full time and now on the frontline.
This year I decided to concentrate on my writing , but I would never give up my teacher registration as it is a part of who I am and as I am fond of saying to friends, “ You never know what’s around the corner.” This is one particular corner I had never seen coming.
For me the three R’s of teaching are Routine, Rules and Rewards.
Kids like to know what is going to happen during the day. Make a physical timetable that they can see. You’ll need to create a loose timetable which includes the major areas of study, but still allows you to be flexible if they are getting tired or an exciting learning opportunity comes along.
By this, I mean things like, a flock of cockatoos comes to drink from your pool. You can count, draw, research, construct or write a diary entry about a cockatoo’s day or why they’d like to be a cockatoo. Kids love these impromptu learning sessions and you will marvel at the delight on their faces and the activities they suggest themselves from one little everyday interaction.
If they are hungry or tired, now is not the time to do those maths equations. Have a brain break. You can eat a piece of fruit, walk around the block, dance together to your favourite tune or play a quick game. You’ll be amazed how much more invigorated they’ll become.
Schedule in themed days – Nature Day, Circus Day, Water Day, Teddy Bear Day. They love these every now and again. With no Ekka coming up make your own show bags, show bag lift out, pinwheels and search the internet on country life and where our food comes from.
You must always be in control. Your children will have a myriad of ways of distracting you and testing your limits to see what they can get away with. You’re the adult , so be friendly but firm. Your voice and your silence are your greatest tools. If you are getting frustrated don’t raise your voice, lower it. They will have to stop and listen more carefully to what you are saying. Children are uncomfortable when you stay silent and look directly at them with confidence. Wait…. wait some more, then give clear instructions. For example – Yes, we will go outside for a walk when we have finished these ten sums.
Which brings me to rewards. I love a reward. Whether it be something physical or a treat like going for a walk with you, playing their favourite board game or having you read their favourite story.This is all learning, too. My classes were always excited to see me. They knew I had my lucky dip box filled with novelty pencils, rubbers, sharpeners, stickies from Coles or little trinkets. Young ones love stickers and stamps so buying a few inexpensive things from the local bargain shop will save your sanity at this time. After all you get more flies with honey than vinegar.
A further two R’s I could add are Read and Relax. If all else was failing when I was teaching I always had some really entertaining or funny books in my bag. Our children love being read to and now is the time to really ramp up reading to create lifelong readers and an unbreakable bond with your children. Remember reading also covers things like recipes, instructions and newspapers too. There are so many resources online so use them as reading prompts and read up on activities appropriate to your child’s grade.
Relax! There is enough panic in the world right now. Kids need you to help them stay calm and peaceful. Try to limit their exposure to what is going on in the world and use your home as their safe haven. Our children will keep learning in spite of us. So find projects in their special areas of interest and books that will engage them. Doing everyday jobs is teaching them new skills they will need in this new world. Sing , laugh and play and this time will go much quicker and your family will be stronger when we come out on the other side. A bit of kindness and patience at this stage will prove invaluable moving forward. You’ve got this.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).