The Kids Gotta Learn!

Seven easy homeschooling tips for engaging the lil’ ones So school’s been out for a while now. While a few months ago you would have done bhangra at the spot, you feel overwhelmed with thoughts like: how will I home school the bachaas properly, what about office work, how am I supposed to maintain my sanity and educate my kids and make sure the house doesn't fall apart?! Trust us, you are not alone. Many many parents are in the same boat as you. While a lot of uncertainty remains, there is one constant question on every parent’s mind: How to home school kids? Especially if you have never done it before. Have a look at our neat tips and tricks. Before we start giving out our secrets, we need you to understand that kids react differently to a parent as a ‘teacher’ and they will push back and behave in ways your little farishtay don’t do at school. So its really important to maintain your composure and have patience!

1- Be flexible with your schedule

"I'm bored" No no no, put away that maachis ki teeli and dont burn your ear drums just yet. We know you are sick and tired of hearing these words by now. Having a schedule is really important because children need to know there are designated times for studying, taking breaks and playing; it's also important that you involve your children and keep their consent in mind while making the schedule. This will ensure they stick to it because they'll feel more involved . It doesn't matter whether your child is getting his lessons super early or during the middle part of the day. Take turns with your partner while tending to your kids to minimize frustration! Sample checklist and Chore chart by Umamah Learning Academy. Research suggests a simple rule for figuring out how long children can stay focused. Multiply your child’s age by 2 - 5 minutes. So if a child is 4 years old, he’ll be able to focus for 20 minutes max at a stretch. Add in breaks accordingly.

2- Think beyond just parhai parhai parhai

Incorporate talking, reading, singing, yoga and role playing into your routine as well as arts and crafts. As kids are stuck inside all day, try to incorporate outdoor activities as well which can combine learning and fun.

3- Involve them in house chores

To make things more interesting (and easier for you), get your little munchkins to pitch in by making a fun chore chart for them where they can be awarded points in exchange for a prize in the end. This is keep your kids motivated and interested. We understand a huge problem that parents are facing while home schooling is that they don't have time to manage both house chores and teaching their children at the same time. Trying this technique of teaching through house chores will allow you to manage both - especially with younger children. Remember, children are born helpers, so don't hesitate to hand them that jharoo while quizzing them about times tables! ;) Try to make them learn through unique ideas for example, make them count and wash fruit with you, teaching them addition and subtraction along the way (no, that definitely does not count as child labour)

4- TV is your friend

Now is the time to really make use of all the technology around you. Children get cranky in front of books all day so its fun to switch things up a bit by taking a bit of help from good old Neflix and YouTube. Another great national initiative is the PTV Teleschool, a dedicated educational channel aimed to make up for the educational loss due to the lockdown. Our favourite programme on the channel? “Ilm ka aangan” - a 45 minute long show including story-telling, physical activities and much more! “Ask the storybots” is another fun show on Netflix, tackling different topics of discussion for kids featuring music performances and fun celebrity appearances. Other fun and educational shows include:

The Magic School Bus

Sid the Science Kid

5- Get Crafty

Children love getting their hands dirty. Get a hold of newspapers, old plastic bottles and other materials from your home and get creative! If you’re out of ideas or don’t know where to begin, check out Sarwat Gilani’s interactive series on Instagram with her kids where she teaches them arts and crafts and different gardening and interactive activities that can easily be done at home!

6- Kahaani suno

Story telling is a great medium to build on your child’s creativity and imagination. Read books together and explore other mediums such as YouTube for online interactive storytelling. One great example of urdu storytelling is Meissamama - a YouTube channel run by actress/model/mom Aminah Sheikh where she reads out fun urdu books to her daughter Meissa. Check it out below: You can find a plethora of great story-telling videos on Youtube. Another example is:

7- Relax and leave it to Zoom mama!

Need some alone time away from the kids? We don’t blame you! Set up a ‘group study’ video call with one of their peers and let them socialize and learn within the safety of your own home. Regular school involves a lot of group projects which enhances social skills, critical thinking and team work. You don't want your children to miss out on these group projects so setting up group study video calls with other mamas and kids will provide a nice change to your usual teaching methods. You can use zoom, google hangouts or whatever you fancy to set up virtual play dates and group study sessions for your kids. Here's the google classroom. We know it’s challenging for parents who are working from home to balance home-schooling with day to day activities at work. We asked how a few teachers are tackling this tricky situation and what challenges they are facing. One of the biggest challenges are network issues (don’t we all get frustrated when a certain network goes down every time the rain pours down?) While a majority of parents are very co-operative, some tend to think of this lock down as summer break where they’re officially done with school for the next few months. That’s a big no no guys! To facilitate parents working from home, teachers have introduced step wise assignments, lenient marking and engagement marking. This could not be a better time to acknowledge and appreciate teachers who take care of your farishtaas (read: shaytaans) every single day! We cant help but wonder about the future of education and schooling systems in a post covid world. It is very likely that classrooms will need to be re-arranged to comply with basic social distancing rules, there will be more emphasis on hygiene and students will most definitely be required to bring their lunch from home. While parents are fretting about home-schooling, some have discovered that they actually have a knack for it. It is very likely that a lot of people will consider home schooling their children - like in the west perhaps because of financial reasons or simply because they find it to be effective and fulfilling. This will probably bring about a surge in home schooling resources like online tutors, e-books and interactive learning apps and blogs. There might even be lesser co-curricular activities in schools to make up for lost time. Whatever it is, we can all collectively pray for a safer, healthier and a more normal future for our children where they can learn and grow in an interactive environment. Cover image is by Sarwat Gilani’s arts and crafts series.

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