With online learning taking place, children are prone to spend time on their devices. Picture: Pixabay
With online learning taking place, children are prone to spend time on their devices. Picture: Pixabay

The key to homeschooling? Find a balance and negotiate less screen time

By Krsangi Radhe Time of article published Apr 28, 2020

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As parents around South Africa look forward to hearing plans outlined by the Department of Basic Education on the re-opening of schools and the phasing in process – there is also quite a lot of trepidation associated around this announcement.

Therefore, the reality of homeschooling is becoming even more demanding and creating a lot more pressure on parents. The juggle of managing work and teaching young children at the same time, can become tedious.

Many schools have kicked-off their online learning programmes, whereas other schools are encouraging learners to work with the Department of Basic Education roll-out curriculum presented via the media. Whichever way you are working through this, be mindful of how much of screen time is good for your child.

Boundaries when using devices

With online learning taking place, children are prone to spend time on their devices. Whilst parents are looking towards the online learning support – we need to be wary of too much of screen time beyond learning time. This can be difficult, as children also enjoy gaming and other technology as part of their time to unwind.

Parents may then come under pressure to decide when screen-time becomes unhealthy. The doubt is then raised in the minds of parents who believe that surely, they cannot ‘punish’ a child with down-time on technology, because your child has been learning online for most of the day – or can you?

A simplistic way to navigate through this scenario is to communicate with your child. Talk to your child about what is important by looking at mutual priorities during this time. Learning through technology (if there are online lessons) is important, and therefore tech relaxation time needs to be halved to accommodate the compulsory online learning.

Be ready to have your child protest, but clear and calm communication will allow for engagement and for a better understanding child. Remind your child that the visual stimuli of looking at a screen for long periods of time, will not allow for optimum brain function, and will also negatively impact on their eye- sight.

This is also a real physiological concern – that parents and children need to be mindful of.

Fill the day with other activities

Remember, that when your child wakes up every morning, they are not quite following the routine that they are used too. Rather, their day looks empty – there is no uniform dress-up and morning rush off. Children are far more at leisure to take the day, as they desire. 

This is when parents have to ensure that the day is not empty – but rather there is clear structure to the day. Discuss how the day will be spent, and come to a mutual agreement. By allowing your child engagement in discussion, she will feel included in the discussion and there will surely be a greater acceptance of the days routine.

Re-frame: Suggest rather than impose

A tip is not to impose something on your child, rather present or suggest time-management/day plan in a simple way that seems to be palatable for them.

Instead of saying, “I want you to do this today”, rather say, “Won’t it be great if you can complete this task today?” In this way, by re-framing your thought (to make it that of your child’s) you will surely receive a better buy-in and receive less hostility.

Balance

As with any day, strive to achieve balance through the day. This will mean exercise, connecting with family and friends (virtually), teaching and learning and playtime.

Do not stress if the day did not go completely as you planned – strive for progress rather than perfection. Rather have a happy child, who is willing to learn – and also give you space and time to work – than an unhappy child who upsets the home environment.

Remember, we are all learning to adapt – take each day as it comes, with renewed positivity and enthusiasm. 

Krsangi Radhe is a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, time line therapist and women and children empowerment coach. She is also an educator, public relations practitioner and motivational speaker. Krsangi Radhe can be reached on [email protected] or visit her website www.sankalpacoaching.co.za

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