Schools across Barbados are closed as the government continues to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, instantly leaving parents and guardians more in charge of their children’s education.
The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) presently operates a home directed learning service, and as such has done much research on the topic. The information gathered in its research of homeschooling, is successfully used within the related service the organization provides.
Here is a little advice for parents that have now been forced to homeschool their children.
First and foremost, do not put yourself under pressure to maintain a curriculum-level education at home, when in reality this probably isn’t achievable. The Ministry of Education in its requirement for granting parents permission to homeschool asked for parent qualification. Any qualifications from CXC’s upward were accepted. The AHF has always maintained that with the right guidance and working material parents, who are innately the first educators of their children, are qualified teachers. In this age of technology and information sharing, there is an overwhelming amount of instruction out there about how best to educate children. Parents regardless of the Ministry of Education’s assistance or lack of, can heavily arm themselves with the tools that will make their homeschooling journey enjoyable and successful.
Homeschooling advice from the AHF
1. Stick to a routine
Keeping to a routine will prove crucial to your transition to homeschooling over the next few weeks of the nation’s lockdown. Always take the time to plan enjoyable and interesting things to do with your children. Science experiments, art, craft, gardening, the playing of off and online games are but a few of the things that can be shared activities for parents and children. It is very important for parents to give their children the opportunity to have an input in the planning of these activities.
Trying to keep the structure of your days in-line with your children’s school timetable can be challenging but it is necessary. Even if you’re not using the time explicitly for academic studies, the discipline of adhering to a timetable will make your homeschool experience that more manageable. Involve your children in the crafting of their timetable’s.
2. Let children learn at the pace they are comfortable with
It is a fact of nature that all people are not the same. We differ in height, colour, characteristics and a range of other traits including the speed at which we process and retain information. Children obviously are the same, and the rate and manner in which they process and retain information varies. The AHF recommends that children have some sort of control over their timetable.
At the AHF, their students developed their own timetable within the structure of what a day would look like that was given to them. However, each day they had the option to choose what they wanted to study. They knew how much time per week was allotted to each subject and democratically for the most part decided what the day would entail for them.
The luxury of homeschooling is that children who get a concept quickly aren’t held back, and those who need more time have a chance to fully understand their work.
The AHF studied the Finnish approach to education as it is rated among the highest in the world. It then used this information to create a home directed education service tailored to the reality of Barbadian culture.
One of the things the AHF noted in Finnish education was the lack of early examinations and testing for children below their 6th grade. The Smithsonian Magazine reported that, ” Not until sixth grade will kids have the option to sit for a district-wide exam, and then only if the classroom teacher agrees to participate. Most do, out of curiosity. Results are not publicized. Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests. “Americans like all these bars and graphs and colored charts,” Louhivuori teased. He went on to say, “It’s nonsense, we know much more about the children than these tests can tell us.”
Kari Louhivuori is a veteran teacher and the school principal of Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive School located in Espoo, a sprawling suburb west of Helsinki. A Comprehensive School is a Primary School in Finland and caters to children aged 7 – 16 years old, through grades 1 to 9.
3. Make your child the teacher
Letting children teach stops the learning process from becoming boring and helps keep them interested in studies.
One of the best ways to do this is to choose a specific topic that your children need to study based on their curricula. Compile the resources that they need and ask them to go away for an hour and write notes and draw pictures related to the topic. Once they have done this, ask them to come back and present the information to you. Another method would be to set a comprehension passage for your children to read, and have them give you the parent a stipulated number of questions based on the passage to answer. The key to these exercises is creativity and can be applied to all subjects.
The benefits of this are twofold – not only will they get a sense of achievement, but will also help them retain information without learning in a ‘traditional’ manner.
4. Show an interest in your child’s work
Take an interest in what your child is studying. This for the AHF is one of, if not the most important things a homeschooling parent must do. In fact even if your children were in school, parents should make time to show interest in their children’s work.
The AHF is presently creating online content that will act as a guide for children and parents in academic studies. On each tutorial video produced, the AHF encourages children to attempt the lesson on their own. Should they not grasp what is being shared fully, invite their parents to watch the video with them and work out the problems together.
If parents engage with topics and tasks this will inspire children to work harder.
The African Heritage Foundation will continue to share with you knowledge it has gained within its homeschooling journey periodically. Should you be interested in learning more about the home directed learning service of the AHF, please contact them through email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or whatsapp 260-4795.
You are invited to type homeschooling in the websites search engine for more information on the subject, especially as it pertains to Barbados.
African Heritage Foundation