As we come up to the end of the school year, Toronto parents are dealing with homeschooling kids through final reports and assignments. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically effected all of our lives. Parents with children in elementary schools have, in particular, had their world’s turned upside down as they try to navigate homeschooling. Many parents have found it challenging to become their children’s new educators.

For the last five years, I have worked as a tutor, both on-site in independent educational institutions and also with private clients as an in-home tutor. I have learned a great deal about managing a lack of focus and motivation, time management and confusion surrounding assignments.

While taking on this new parental role may be overwhelming at times, these tips will help you deal with the stresses and pressures that come with final school assignments.

Create a schedule for your child at the beginning of every week. 
Children find tasks much less daunting when the assignments are spaced out. I suggest that you divide their school work from Monday to Friday, to give them the weekends off. This routine will model their regular school week. Try to pair something difficult with something simple so that your children don’t lose motivation. For example, if you know your child hates math, pair it with art. While doing so, try to have your child begin with the less arduous task, and assign it to them independently. Pairing a difficult task with a simple one will help them feel a sense of accomplishment, which will boost motivation.  

Try to make “homework” time, at the same time every day. 
Your child’s focus also depends on your own; if they find that you are distracted, they will see it as an opportunity to lose focus. By choosing a specific time of the day to study, you can help your children at a time best suited to you. I suggest that you select a time of day where you’re free for at least 1 to 2 hours. Your child will adapt to this routine, which will provide stability. According to psychologist Jennifer Weil Malatras, time management, like the presence of a habit, is linked to fewer attention problems.

Robert Herjavec

Pick a quiet place where your child can work. 
Children tend to have better behaved at school usually because they’re less comfortable with their teacher, and have become accustomed to the institutional structure and rule system. This same structure must be modelled while they’re doing their school work at home. It is also essential to have your child sit in a quiet place at a desk or table so that it models an institutional structure. If they feel too comfortable, which they already do at home, it may be difficult for them to focus. Also, ensure there are no immediate distractions, such as toys or digital games. Creating a consistent routine, with a schedule, time and place, will model what they’re used to and help them stay on task.  

Stay in constant communication with your child’s teacher. 
Your child’s teacher will assist you in navigating websites like google classroom, online libraries, and other academic sources. Moreover, your feedback will shape the learning style and preferred learning methods for your child. Teachers right now are trying their best to use resources and create lessons that can be tailored to online learning. Your feedback will help them realize what is working and what can be enhanced. This is extremely important, especially if you find that you or your child have difficulties navigating the tools and online lessons.

Bring in outside support.
If you find that your child is struggling to learn new content in this form, find ways to make it easier for them. Websites like Khan Academy and even the University of Waterloo are a great resource that features “how-to” videos and practice questions that are customized to each age group, and the Canadian curriculum. Reviewing concepts will help you refresh your memory, and your child may find it easier to have someone explain small concepts step by step. Also, you can find many online games for math and science that may make this experience more exciting. If you’re still facing extreme difficulties, try to focus on the core subjects: math, English, science. These subjects will be the most difficult to catch up on if your child falls behind.