Homeschool Heads-up from a Hong Kong Tutor!

The kids have been homeschooling for 5 minutes and you’re already tearing your hair out!

That is exactly how many of the parents in Hong Kong felt near on 2 months ago when the proverbial ‘S’ hit the fan here. So don’t worry – we know exactly what you’re going through.

And while realizing that teachers do the seemingly impossible on a daily basis is great, what you need to know is how to navigate your way through this so that you come out the other side feeling like all wasn’t lost.

So here are 5 tips from a Hong Kong tutor about how to get the most from home schooling.

  1. Keep to a timetable
    The fear of getting detention is not the only reason children haul themselves off to school every morning. Not only do they want to go (a fact they will come to realise in the next week-and-a-half, I guarantee it!), but it is also a part of their routine. That being so, keep that same routine in place. Get books out on the dining table when the first lesson of the day would start and follow the schedule as closely as possible.

  2. Be ready to work
    It would be a sight to behold were a gaggle of students to saunter into the school grounds, pajama bottoms still on, dressing gowns draped over their shoulders. Forcing them into school uniforms once their alarm sounds may be a step too far, but you should insist that they be dressed before any study starts.
    Accept that they might be able to eat and drink as and when they want, or that they can do something else of their choosing if they complete work early. But the ‘study in sleepwear’ habit should be discouraged from the get-go.

  3. Don’t become the study police
    What you are going to witness during this study period will be students that are unmotivated and ultimately disinterested in what they are doing. Hong Kong students were thrust into online classrooms with nary a moment to assess what was happening. Despite all efforts – and the fact that they were often on webcams – many fell asleep during class time, in full view of students and class teachers.
    Lessons held through self-study or online are simply not as engaging, so don’t penalize or threaten to punish students who are adjusting to a new system. These things take time.

  4. Break times/lunch times
    Speaking of taking time, lunch times and break times pose a particular problem when one is in a quarantine situation. There is little that a student can do other than busy themselves with their phone or perform some otherwise inane task to pass the time.
    Insisting that students head outside is pointless, and just leads to unnecessary flare ups. Trust me, when the need to get outside takes hold, they’ll head out unassisted.
    Worry less about phones and more about what you hear. If there is a general lightness in the air with enough laughter to suggest they have switched out of study mode, then that is enough.

  5. This is mental!
    We are all having to contend with the new study reality. It’s something that none of us could have ever envisaged, but it is possible to make it work. Exercising a healthy level of understanding, encouraging communication, and practicing empathy (even the students are frustrated) will help you all get through this. Family relationships will be put to the test, so it is incumbent on everyone to pull together.

Hong Kong is by no means perfect. But over the last 10 weeks teachers, students and parents alike have shown a collective resolve to see out the worst of what homeschooling entails and have emerged toupee intact!

This won’t be forever. As they say here, ‘Add oil’, keep your chin up and we’ll all be laughing at this current uncertainty come Summer.


Simon John
Cicero Group Limited

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