The COVID-19 pandemic has forced students, parents and teachers into a mode of teaching and learning not previously experienced. We have all had to move at lightning speed to make adjustments to the way content is delivered and in the way continued learning is achieved. As the Deputy Principal for Learning and Teaching, I know I speak on behalf of the whole Leadership Team when I say how incredibly proud I am of our staff for the significant work they have done to continue teaching in this rapidly changing landscape. Equally, our students have demonstrated amazing resilience and flexibility and our parents have continued to work in close partnership with us, albeit in ways they could not have imagined a few short months ago! 

We are consistently reviewing and adjusting our strategies, our programs and our delivery at this time.  We are intensely cognisant that parents are being required to play a broader role in their child’s education, that is greater than they would normally in many cases. A recent article by Tanya Vaughan and Susannah Schoeffel, in Teacher magazine (2020), articulates effective ways for parents to support the learning-at-home environment. I have taken from the article those parts that are deemed most appropriate to the age group of our students. 

Parents supplement what teachers do, not replace them 

The focus for parents is on helping their children in their readiness for learning, ensuring they are prepared and focused for the lesson. This includes: 

  • Supporting children to create regular routines and study habits; 
  • Ensuring a quiet space free from distractions e.g. asking the child to set aside materials that they don’t need for learning (e.g. phones and other digital devices not required for learning) 
  • A charged laptop to interact with educators and rest of the class or group where applicable;  
  • If no internet access, to ensure the correct study material is organised for a particular subject 
  • Stationery items required for that lesson, including pen, paper and calculator. 

Parents help children to develop independent learning skills 

Improving the nature and quality of parents’ talk to their children can support the development of independent learning skills that are associated with improved learning outcomes. This can be achieved by: 

  • Providing the right amount of support, not over-assisting 
  • Encouraging children to take risks with their learning 
  •  Using open-ended questions, such as ‘What do you think the question is asking you to do?’ 
  • Ensuring children retain responsibility for their learning 
  • Giving the least amount of help first to encourage children’s ownership of the task 
  • If a child is struggling with certain content, or needs some clarification, the parent can encourage their child to seek help from their teacher. (Evidence for Learning, 2019a, p.15 Vaughan, 2018). 

In home-supported learning, parents ‘can promote the self-regulation in children necessary to achieve academic goals including goal setting, planning perseverance, and the management of time, materials, attentiveness, and emotions,’ (Evidence for Learning, 2019b, p.13). 

Ultimately, we can all only do our best, and at Marist Regional College, our best is pretty amazing! Thank you for the work you are doing at home. Thank you for the challenges you are facing head-on for the benefit of your children. Thank you for your ongoing feedback that enables us to continue adjusting and improving our processes. Thank you for showing that once again our College community is strong in the face of adversity! 

Mrs Kerrie Flynn

Deputy Principal Learning & Teaching