General education

Here we go again...but better?

Emma Barton / 09 July 2020

School holidays are upon us and Victorian parents again face the challenge of keeping children isolated and entertained.

Like many families we were looking forward to these school holidays. A chance to have some ‘down time’ and reconnect with friends we haven’t seen for months. My 8 year old was especially looking forward to a couple of days in the country with her grandparents.

But, with the latest lockdown restrictions in Melbourne, we’ll be staying home. And, for those of us with younger kids, there’s now an extra week of school holidays thrown into the mix.

Parents are back to where we were when schools closed: kids at home, no travel permitted, no school-holiday programs to keep our children occupied. Again we’re wondering how we’ll balance our caring responsibilities with working-from-home.

Like other parents, I’m concerned about the ongoing disruption to my daughter’s education by earlier and potential future school closures. I therefore read with interest the latest report from the Grattan Institute which measured the impact of school closures and made suggestions on ‘catch-up learning’.

So, this extended school holidays I’m planning on killing two birds with one stone. I'll tap into some easy, reliable and fun activities which also have subtle education elements, to both entertain my daughter and keep her learning.

I know such material exists because I have been curating it and sharing it online. My day job is with the Origin Energy Foundation, a philanthropic foundation which focuses on children’s education.

During the recent school closures the Foundation funded not-for-profit organisation Cool Australia to reconceive some of its popular classroom materials, used by more than 100,000 teachers, for parents and young people to use. Many of their activities get kids off their devices (hallelujah!) and are self-directed - so you may just get to make that coffee after all.

We also investigated other resources and safe, reliable programs. We took into account those with special needs and have included resources for deaf children or children with autism. These are freely available on the Origin Energy Foundation Knowledge Hub.

Despite the cancelled getaway to the grandparents’ house, I’m feeling more optimistic that these school holidays can still be fun and we’ll get through Lockdown Mark ll in better shape. We’ll get outdoors, investigate nature, practice maths while cooking together, read Dreamtime stories. I might even l learn something myself.

Emma Barton is the Senior Manager, Partnering and Advocacy for the philanthropic Origin Energy Foundation.

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