When we think of structure in regards to our businesses, we understand it will give more clarity, help manage expectations, enable better decision-making, provide consistency and make sure important tasks are completed on time.
When we think of home life, consistency and structure are beneficial both for children and adults. Clear structure and expectations provide limits and boundaries and help children not only predict how parents will react but also teaches them how to behave. Consistency is important, it means that we follow through with what we say we are going to do and It gives power to our words.
It can be difficult for parents to maintain a routine when having to spend the entire day at home and keeping a structure can be hard to do. Trying to create a classroom setting is not practical but having a plan each day can be useful. Older children can create a timetable to help form a structure. Another useful idea is having family meetings where everyone can discuss how they feel about the changes taking place. Particularly younger children having a couple of hours of school work in the morning and a specified time for craft work in the afternoon.
Exercise is not only important for a child’s physical health but is also important for their mental health. According to the official NHS guidance, there are two types of physical activity that children and young people need to do each week in order to stay healthy. This includes aerobic exercise such as running, and exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones. The advice is to aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day across the week. The guidance also advises parents to reduce the time their children spend sitting and lying down and break up the length of time they spend not moving with some form of activity such as walking or bike riding.
Currently, there’s no standard way to implement remote learning. Some teachers are using a correspondence-by-email-only approach, while others are livestreaming lectures or posting online assignments. In some areas, teachers are using a hybrid method that combines remote learning with on-site classes. Whatever the approach, all of these examples have one big thing in common: they require the Internet.
There’s really no getting around it. If you want to participate in an online program, you need to be able to get online. Which means you’re going to need reliable networking equipment: modems, routers, connector cables, etc. The good news is that if you’re reading this article at home, you probably already have some version of the necessary equipment. And as long as your equipment is in good, working order, you likely won’t need to make any major changes.
Like networking equipment, remote learning pretty much demands you use some form of computer equipment. Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or something similar, without a network interface (i.e., a computer), you won’t be able to get online, which, obviously, is a key component of online education. Fortunately, many people already have access to at least one computer that’s network-ready and suitable for remote learning, so, like your networking gear, as long as it’s in working condition and can adequately handle your various workloads, you should be good to go.
If, however, your current computer setup doesn’t adequately support your remote learning needs, you might want to consider either an upgrade or an additional device.
For social and emotional wellbeing, children need to have the opportunity for all types of play, including play with other children. This peer play is crucially important for children of all ages. Peer relationships are unique because they are voluntary, equal, and require negotiation and compromise. Play with peers allows children to learn to regulate their emotions, develop social skills and form a sense of identity. Without the opportunity to play closely with their friends, children can feel lonely and socially isolated.
Parents often worry about children’s screen time but the evidence does not support the idea that screen time in itself is harmful. Instead, what is important is what children are doing on their screens. If they are using them to engage with and play with friends, the benefits right now are likely to outweigh any risks.
Older children may enjoy video-calling and chatting with friends, while other children may prefer to play games online with friends. Where possible, maintaining some of the structure of their peer groups through group calls or games is likely to be helpful for helping them to maintain their sense of identity as part of the group. Social media can help maintain friendships and provide feelings of connectedness.
For younger children, using technology to maintain contact with friends will be more challenging. For these children, free-play opportunities at home as well as play with parents and siblings will be important for supporting social and emotional wellbeing. This can feel like an added pressure on parents alongside homeschooling and work, but there are good reasons for prioritising play. There is excellent advice available to support parents to play with their children.
At the moment, technology is a lifeline for children and young people. But it is essential that, as soon as they are allowed to, children and young people are encouraged back outdoors and back to face-to-face interaction without social distancing to best support their mental and physical health.