Homeschooling essentials: What parents really need
Parents throughout Queensland have reported feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of educating their children from home next term, but long-term homeschooling families say it doesn't need to be difficult or expensive.
Yangan mother of four Catherine Cazaly said she and her husband have been homeschooling all of their children for almost four years, after her eldest son's learning difficulties made mainstream schooling a stressful environment.
"People think of homeschooling as this challenging and overwhelming thing, but it isn't as scary as it seems and it doesn't need to be extravagant," Mrs Cazaly said.
"The only real essentials are a computer with internet access, a printer, some basic stationery that most kids from mainstream schools will already have, a quiet and calm space, and the imagination to use household supplies to fill any gaps.
There's endless amounts of learning resources, worksheets, and activities that can be found online and completed that line up with your school's curriculum."
Mrs Cazaly, who has continued to work full-time as a registered nurse while homeschooling their children, said one of the best strategies she found for keeping children engaged was incorporating play-based and child-directed learning where possible.
"Even as adults, we don't tend to remember things just by reading them over and over again - we need to give them that context," she said.
"Just keep it simple and short - one thing we do is using Nerf guns for sight words, where I'll call out a letter or a word from the grid (we found online) and the kids will have to shoot that word.
Or if you have maths and you want to use counters, but obviously don't have access to the $100 ones used in schools, you could get out a can of kidney beans and give those to your kids to practice counting and sums."
Schools across the region have referenced the Queensland Department of Education's "learning@home" online hub as one of the most informative sources for parents transitioning to remote learning.
The portal links parents and students to online resources by both subject and year level, along with resources that provide support for parents and students, along with hard-copy substitutes for regional communities who may be unable to rely on their internet connection.
"The resources provided here are a sample of activities that can be printed and are designed as a support tool for students to continue their learning and engage in familiar activities essential to their learning and wellbeing," the Department said.
"Where digital or online options are not available, schools may provide hard copies of resources for students to take home.
This will allow students who have limited connectivity or who may not have a suitable device, to continue their learning."
From her own experience, Mrs Cazaly said adjusting to homeschooling was undoubtedly tough in the beginning, and her best advice to parents was to take each day as it comes and cut themselves some slack.
"I had a grief period, and I expect a lot of parents will be experiencing that too, because you lose what you consider the norm in uniforms, making lunches, and waving your kids off to school," she said.
"Try to relax and let what happens each day be what happens - some days your kids just wont co-operate and you won't get much done, but that's okay.
Don't see it as a negative or that you're trapped, because that isn't it - you've been given this ticket to spend every day with your kids and teach them in a way that you know works for them."
To access the Department of Education's "learning@home" hub for resources or more information, click here.