BALLARAT NORTH mum Kristin Harmer is keen for the school term to get started this week. Ms Harmer wants to have a better feel for what her family might be in for.
The Harmers are set to juggle home-schooling for four children, including Lily in year 10 who is studying VCE biology, and with two pre-schoolers in the mix.
Ms Harmer said having routine and some structure will be important but there would be a sense of figuring this out a bit as they go.
First-day school nerves have been kicking in for parents across Ballarat with many also needing to factor in their own work from home. Families are grappling with how this will all work.
State school teachers are officially back at work on Tuesday while for many students across the state, lessons start on Wednesday.
Planning's been a bit difficult at the moment because we're not exactly sure how it will work.Ballarat mum Kristin Harmer
"Planning's been a bit difficult at the moment because we're not exactly sure how it will work but I'm sure the schools and teachers will be helpful," Ms Harmer said.
"None of the younger kids seem to mind the idea at the moment but on holidays it's been easy for them to forget things they like that are only at school - there's no art room, there are no PE (physical education) games with friends at home," Ms Harmer said.
"There's only so much we can cater for.
"Who knows, maybe they will just get used to this as normal."
Lily has her own lap-top and Ms Harmer said her daughter was good at self-managing. They expect year 11 biology, as a subject with practical components, might feel a bit different.
To start, the three in primary school - Winter in grade four, Beau in grade two and prep Violet - will have to share a device and rotate through screen time.
The school has sent home writing and maths books and pencils and has suggested about two hours' structured learning to begin.
Victorian government advice in helping children to learn from home is to remember that parents are expected to be teachers or subject matter experts. Parents are encouraged to work with teachers and help offer encouragement and support.
Ms Harmer said her children could each get help from an older sibling and this would be particularly helpful in understanding different terminology used in class today.
The big test for the Harmers is finding activities, like maybe colouring in, to keep three-year-old twins Felix and Banjo busy during study times. The twins have been rapt to have their older siblings home from school in an extended term break as extra children to play with.
Ms Harmer hope to keep a general routine on school days and during school time to help ensure the family has designated down-time. Already, they start days in isolaton together with a Sam Wood workout at 9am.
We've been trying to keep a routine so every day and week doesn't blend into another.Ballarat mum Kristin Harmer
"That kicks off our day, but we'll also have scheduled outside time and craft time. The kids are great at playing together and there's been a lot of creative play outside in the holidays but I think they're ready to do schooling again now," Ms Harmer said.
"...We've been trying to keep a routine so every day and week doesn't blend into another. There will be down-time after school and on weekends because otherwise there's no real on and off time."
Victorian Education Department advice is to create a daily school routine to clarify and understand instructions from teachers and to help children organise and set their learning priorities for the day. A routine can also promote concentration and mental and physical health for children. Routines should include regular exercise breaks.
On-site learning will only be available for children whose parents cannot work from home and for vulnerable students without access to a suitable learning environment at home.
Small groups of VCE and VCAL students can also attend on-site for short periods if needed for their learning requirements. Physical distancing provisions will be made for the safety for teachers and kids.
The state government and schools are also distributing devices and free internet to children most in need.
Back-to-(home)school top tips
Most children will be starting term two classes from home from tomorrow to increase social distancing and prevent coronavirus spread.
Advice for parents from Victoria's education department is to be supportive and encouraging - you do not have to be a teaching expert.
Key tips to help include:
- Set up a quiet and comfortable learning environment. Aim for a shared space, not a bedroom, to prevent isolation and help with supervision (as needed).
- Establish routines and daily learning goals based on work from teachers. Have exercise breaks.
- Check in with your child morning and afternoon, including a check on their mental well-being.
- Manage screen time and online safety. Balance with off-screen learning.
- More parent help at: education.vic.gove.au
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