Cyber school rules, for parents

Author: Hayley Alexander

Of all the things I’ve studied during my life and wouldn’t mind revisiting, school grades three and seven didn’t feature on the list. 2020 seemed to miss that memo. 


Like it or not, distance learning, or ‘Cyber school’ has become a reality and we have no choice other than to all pull up our socks and get with the programme (syllabus). 


Since the majority of us don’t have teaching qualifications or experience in formally schooling our own offspring, it can be rather daunting, especially for parents with children in primary school that need facilitating. No doubt, even more challenging if (as the adult) you’re already juggling trying to make time to do your own work and complete household responsibilities in the same limited space. 


Taking leads from an article originally published by The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, here are some tips offered by Cassandra Willis, who holds a Post-Doctorate in Education and is a lecturer at the University. She also has two children in grades four and seven respectively. 


  1. “Develop a fluid schedule for kids to follow. I don’t expect them to be engaged in academics all day, but I do want them to be up, dressed and showered by a certain time every morning. They need to check their email and school accounts and have reading time.”

    Your child’s school may also send out their own schedule and learning requirements where your kids will need to attend live online classes, so make sure that you have set up whatever tech equipment, apps or downloads they may need to install in advance. Are batteries full, devices plugged in and the Wi-Fi connected?  


  2. Dr Willis says, “Remember you are working at home, not working from home. We have to shift our thinking. Some people put unrealistic expectations on themselves when they have kids or parents that they're taking care of in the home. It's unrealistic to say that you're going to work for 10 hours straight.”

    My input as a working mum: if you know that your child may need to use your computer for three hours in the morning, try to get up early (or maybe do a bit of work at night) so that you can get ahead on your own work and be available to help them should they require supervision. Also, I suggest letting your employers or clients know that you may not always be available for calls or online meetings between, for example, 9am to midday.

  3. “Check in with your kids. This is just as challenging on them as it is on you. It’s all about balance, trying to keep your children in their routines, and being creative about what you do with them. You have to be in tune to their moods and their needs.”

In an article for Slate, parenting author and podcast hostess Elizabeth Newcamp states that whilst the world seems to be standing still, every parent needs to take a deep breath and say, out loud: “I am not my child’s teacher. I am their parent.”


She asserts that their emotional needs are far more important than their academics at this time, and that “every teacher will remember, and take into account, that nearly every child in the world experienced the same learning hiatus.”


Instead, she says, “worry about supporting your children as they process what is happening in the world. Kids will still get into college; they’ll still learn long division and the difference between the executive and the legislative branch; they’ll still learn to read, write, and think, even if they do nothing with this time but binge Netflix and snuggle with you when your work is done.”


Take it one day at a time, there will be good days and not so great days. Don’t be too hard on them, or yourself.




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