Advice for parents to maintain their child's learning
Due to the pandemic and school closures, researchers from the UNESCO Chair in Curriculum Development (school subject and emergency education specialists) have developed a guide to provide useful information for parents of elementary school children.
In the vast array of learning resources available and shared through social media, it can be difficult to find one's way around. What should you prioritize for your child? Which resources comply with the curriculum content of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education?
Given the current lack of clear benchmarks, the Chair has produced guidelines for setting priorities as to which academic skills and knowledge should be maintained and consolidated with children. These are grouped by elementary school cycles and are in line with school programs. The elements outlined below were developed by combining the Québec Education Program (elementary education) with knowledge from the field of education in emergencies1,2,3. The following is a selection of skills and content that we identify as priorities.
The Chair thus seeks to support parents who wish to maintain their children's education in order to facilitate an eventual return to school. However, it is important to specify that these educational guidelines are not a turnkey plan or a list of tasks to be checked off, but rather a response to the questions raised by many parents.
Let us keep in mind that many parents will legitimately decide to carry out various activities of a less academic nature and that all teachers will set up various remedial activities at the end of the confinement.
- Give your child an overview of the day's schedule of activities; this will reassure them and help them prepare psychologically. A routine, even if it differs from the school environment, is reassuring for the child;
- Try to give your child tasks that they can do on their own, then offer feedback. Autonomy will develop over time through routine;
- If possible, choose mornings for tasks that require more concentration and try to respect a week-weekend structure so that your child has a sense of time;
- Compile all the work in a notebook or binder and start the day by writing the date, for both young and old;
- Don't forget to take breaks;
- If you can, try to connect your child regularly with another child their age by videoconference, or with another family member (uncle, aunt, grandparent, cousin) with whom they have a close relationship to allow them to tell and share what they are doing;
- Don't hesitate to join virtual groups of parents and educators; you will find interesting, free educational resources and a support network that will become more and more important over time;
- Above all, have fun and take advantage of this time to develop a special bond with your child; don't put too much pressure on yourself if you don't succeed in achieving everything you have planned.
Recommended amount of time to spend on school activities with your child
For parents who would like to maintain learning activities with their child during confinement, here are a few daily scheduling recommendations. Although it may be relevant to ensure the continuity of educational activities, it is important not to exceed the child's cognitive abilities and generate more stress and anxiety for the child and the parents.
First cycle (grades 1 and 2)
|Problem solving||1-2 activities/week|
|Physical activities||60 min/day|
Second cycle (grades 3 and 4)
|Problem solving||2-3 activities/week|
|Physical activities||60 min/day|
Third cycle (grades 5 and 6)
|Problem solving||2-3 activities/week|
|Physical activities||60 min/day|
|First cycle||Practice reading using simple sentences and short texts.
Have your child read a text aloud. This way, you will be able to determine how fluent your child's reading is. Reading speed, intonation, punctuation, and word decoding are important to make sure the reader doesn't lose track of the story and understands the text.
1. Read the same text every day for a week;
2. Serve as a role model for your child by reading in unison (at the same time);
3. Support your child as they read. When a word is difficult, wait a few seconds and provide the sounds of the first syllables or the whole word.
Pedagogical activities to develop reading fluency and comprehension in first and second grades of elementary school.
|Second cycle||Reading short texts
Work on the reading process with your child.
1. Do an introductory overview of the text with your child. Give the text some context.
2. After the reading, ask your child to summarize the text in their own words to make sure that they fully understand it;
3. Finally, if necessary, you can review the text with your child if it was poorly understood. You can also ask them to re-read it.
|Third cycle||Reading children's literature
Work with your child first on comprehension, interpretation, and response to their reading.
1. Help them recognize the text structure;
2. Have them make inferences (deduce) and establish cause-and-effect relationships;
3. Have them question themselves. It is necessary to remain in interaction with the text throughout the reading;
4. Provide your child with reading aids such as a dictionary and highlighter pens;
5. Ask your child about the ideas conveyed in the text. Ask them to take a position on the subject.
After having worked on comprehension, interpretation and response (expressing ideas about the text), help your child form an opinion about this work of literature. Enjoying literary works can take time. It may require reading several texts to get there and can take several weeks to achieve. It is important to support your child in the construction of their critical judgment by questioning them:
If their friends have read the same text, encourage the children to share their thoughts.
1. Practice the writing movement and transcribe sounds into written words.
1. Practice writing in detached letters (scripted calligraphy) in a lined notebook;
2. Practice the written transcription (graphemes) of sounds (phonemes) that form words (letters and syllables);
3. Using word banks, work on vocabulary and spelling.
|Second cycle||Writing practice
Have children practice writing simple sentences using word banks.
Having your child do dictations is an effective way to practice writing. Find games that involve words (hangman, crossword puzzles, etc.).
|Third cycle||Writing and literary creation
1. Practice writing short original texts on various topics.
Having your child do dictations is an effective way to practice writing. In addition, favor games that involve words (hangman, crossword puzzles, etc.).
In mathematics, work with your child on math activities related to everyday life at home. Many activities can be done without paper and pencil. Prioritize the use of tangible materials (Legos, peas, candies, cans or cardboard boxes) or concrete, authentic situations involving mathematical concepts. Mathematical activities can be carried out in conjunction with artistic (drawing, collage, sculpture, etc.) or technological (construction, computer) activities.
|First cycle||Arithmetic and operations
Arithmetic is frequently encountered in daily life, and all contexts are relevant for its application.
Geometry can be integrated into art activities (cardboard, paper, straws, etc.) involving various figures and/or solids.
1. Flat geometric figures (squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, rhombuses)
1. Solids (prisms, pyramids, balls, cylinders, cones)
For activities of a technical or artistic nature, a ruler or measuring tape can be integrated. Time cycles can be addressed in stories or daily routines by involving a calendar.
|Second cycle||Arithmetic and operations
1. In the second cycle, arithmetic activities may remain the same as in the first cycle, but their complexity increases.
Through concrete contexts and manipulations with your child, the study of figures and solids continues.
1. The measurement continues of objects present in the student's environment (longer lengths, more precise measurements, surfaces, volumes).
1. In the second cycle, students are introduced to concepts that can help them investigate their environment. These activities can be carried out in the context of scientific investigation.
|Third cycle||Arithmetic and operations
In the third cycle, arithmetic and operations become more complex. However, don't overload the child and vary the type of activities.
1. New notions are introduced in geometry in the third cycle. These notions will be easier to learn when they are linked to everyday objects and contexts.
In the third cycle, concepts related to measurement are often approached through geometric activities.
In the third cycle, children will continue to investigate their environment. These activities can be carried out in the context of scientific investigation.
|Curricula are not exclusively oriented towards the memorization of mathematical knowledge or calculation techniques. We also recommend that parents place their children in a variety of less structured problem-solving situations.
Problem solving is a fundamental approach that is central to many curricula, such as in mathematics or science.
1. Here are the generic steps:
It might be interesting to carry out different investigative activities with your child.
Although it is desirable to limit daily screen time, it should also be noted that some video games, known as serious or educational games, can develop, in whole or in part, certain problem-solving strategies.
Physical and health education
These recommendations are a summary of this article.
|It is ESSENTIAL to incorporate physical and health education into your daily routine for the well-being of both children and parents. A formula to keep in mind for your physical and mental health is the following: MOVE - EAT WELL - SLEEP - RELAX - MANAGE SCREEN TIME - HAVE FUN.
MOVE: Children and adolescents should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day according to WHO recommendations. This includes intense moments of physical activity through simple games (playing hide and seek, making a hut in the basement, playing in the alley, throwing the basketball, kicking the soccer ball, playing hockey in the street, dancing, cycling, skateboarding, etc.). Alternate with moments of finer motor skills (writing, painting, drawing, modeling, sewing, crafting, etc.). These physical activities should be punctuated with breaks such as recesses and should be carried out in several periods of 5-15 min rather than a single large period of 60 min. The key is to have a variety of activities on a regular basis. Other alternatives exist to get the children moving, such as household chores (sweeping the floor), active breaks with Go Noodle or Wixx, and free play outside in a backyard or garden for a breath of fresh air.
EAT WELL: With the confinement situation comes boredom and withdrawal. You can use your family time to cook together and learn how to eat healthily with your children. The Canada Food Guide and websites such as Ricardo's can be an excellent reference tool. Remember that eating should be fun, not boring: eat a variety of foods, eat portions without excess, eat meals in good company and enjoy your food.
SLEEP: The current situation is exceptional and may call for major changes in your pace of life. For the well-being of all (parents and children alike), it is important to keep being disciplined in order to get enough sleep. A tired child brings stress and nervousness which ultimately spreads to the whole family. The best way to keep a steady sleep schedule is to favor relaxing activities and low screen time a full hour before going to bed.
RELAX: Confinement can be difficult because talking and sharing with others is a natural human need. It is important to find strategies to maintain this need: organize a meal with friends by videoconference, talk with relatives you haven't seen in a long time, write them letters. Find spaces, both physical and mental, to rest, be alone and relax. Be attentive to the well-being of all family members. Organize breaks during the day when you notice that the motivation is no longer there (change tasks after 30 or 45 minutes) or when enough screen time has passed. Allow everyone to withdraw silently somewhere in the house when necessary.
MANAGE SCREEN TIME: Exposure of young people to screens carries the risk of altering their eating and physical activity patterns, as well as having an adverse effect on sleep. Philippe Meirieu's formula is perhaps the best: "choose what to watch beforehand - watch together - talk after". This is especially useful to accompany children and allow them to take a step back, criticize, reflect, discover and be interested. Ultimately, it is about controlling what Meirieu calls "available brain time" to improve concentration and achieve academic and personal success.
HAVE FUN: Finally, it is essential to remember that young people learn first and foremost through play, and that their motivation and confidence must be nurtured. The more a young person feels confident, the more they will want to get involved, discover, and learn. Moreover, several health education themes can be discovered through play: posture, sleep, ecology, sexuality, etc.
What is most important is that young people grow up playing and being active.