Have you found yourself in a position where you are now having to be an Au Pair AND an online learning assistant? During these times, families are asking their Au Pair to help out more with homework by leading online learning. Here are some tips and tools to help you through online learning:
1. Make a schedule. This may be your saving grace to help you with online learning. Your host kids are going to be used to following a schedule in their classroom. At the beginning of each school year, teachers share a schedule with their students so they know exactly what to expect each day of the week. By creating a flexible schedule for your host kids at home, you’re continuing this practice for them and you are providing them with autonomy because they know what is expected of them next. Schedule things like online learning, outside play, independent play and, yes, even screen time. Don’t feel trapped by this schedule, but rather use it as a tool to help guide the day. This will help your host child stay focused because they will know how long they have to work at each subject before they can move onto the next thing.
Here’s a tip: when you schedule in screen time, your host children know when they get to use the screen and for how long, avoiding the dreaded fight to end it.
2. Make a space. Create an inviting and practical space for your host kids to do their online learning. Work with your host parents to find a space in the house that has good lighting, is big enough but is not distracting. For example, setting up a space near a window where they can see other kids playing outside may work against you. Choose a spot that’s specific for them, and even invite them to decorate it with their own drawings or stickers. Encourage your host kids to maintain a tidy space so it’s inviting for the next day.
3. Encourage play-based learning. Transitioning to online learning could be tough for your host kids. If they are struggling in a specific subject, try to relate it to one of their hobbies or interest. For example, if they are not understanding the concepts of addition and subtraction, how can you make it fun for them? Perhaps they are very interested in space. Cut out stars. Take the question asked, say 5 + 9=?, and get the child to count out 5 stars and 9 stars and then add them up. Making a learning concept relevant can help to make it interesting for the child and they will most likely remember them better.
4. Give praise to the work. It may get boring for the child to be learning over a screen. They do not get the same feedback they would receive in person from their teacher or other children. Provide the child with specific praise for the work they are doing. For example, if they have finished their work independently, tell them that you are proud of them for completing the work by themselves. Or if they are having a tough time sitting and paying attention, congratulate them on when they sit for 15 minutes. Focus on the positives and reinforce good behaviour by giving praise for the efforts the child is making.
5. Take breaks! As important as it is to get children to do their work, it’s equally important for them to move their bodies. Be sure to take frequent breaks (which are scheduled into your routine) so they can release some energy, frustration, excitement, or whatever it is they need to let go of. Whether you take a 5 minute dance break, 30 minute outdoor time or 20 minute independent play time, make sure you take it every day! It’s also a time for you to have a bit of a break from being online learning assistant to being a playmate.