Covid: Parramatta principals share tips for homeschooling, advice for parents

After more than two months of homeschooling and preparation for the HSC under way, Parramatta’s top educators are sharing tips on how to survive the rest of the year.

Lockdown 2.0 has thrown Sydney families into disarray, with homes being used as classrooms and bedrooms doubling up as exam halls.

But if the thought of continuing this another extra week haunts you, fear not — we have asked our community’s school principals and teachers to provide tips on surviving the rest of the school year, whether it’s for primary school pupils or those about to sit their HSC.

1. Remember you are doing a good job

St Patrick's Primary Guildford Principal, Steve Jones, helms the school, which is a suburb of concern and the centre of the Cumberland red zone, which often records the most new cases in NSW.

The school continues to celebrate events such as Wellbeing Wednesday, Book Week, Green Gold Day and National Science Week.

Mr Jones is keen to remind parents that they are passing the homeschooling with flying colours and “that they are doing a great job and that they are not expected to teach their children but provide a learning environment to enable their children to learn which will be different in every household”.


Tips to keep learning on track:

  • Keep to a regular bedtime and wake up schedule, this will help keep a routine in place and will help for when school returns.
  • Get dressed for the day’s learning, discourage pyjamas!
  • Create a learning space (our dining table is now a learning zone!)
  • Make a plan for the day, chat about the day’s expectations so there are no surprises.
  • Have regular breaks, this can include five to 10-minute brain breaks during tasks.
  • Give rewards for tasks completed like 30 minutes of iPad time, fun or special outside activity when the morning activities have been handed in.
  • Provide healthy snacks and water, it may be helpful to make a packed lunch in the morning to get them through the day.
  • Don’t forget to build in physical activity, creative activities, reading and down time for your children, yourself and family time.

3. Take part in games

Parramatta Marist Westmead is making sure its spirituality is in check along with its acadermic learning

“As a Catholic school in the Marist tradition, we continue to pray together (albeit via Zoom) for the health and wellbeing of our community and the wider national and international communities,’’ principal Mark Pauschmann said.

That includes specific activities for each grade based on their needs such as games for Year 8 students, scavenger hunts for those in Year 9 and Friday chats in Year 10 while the whole school is kept informed and entertained through the school’s new radio station, Parra Marist FM Radio.

“For our HSC students, they have continued to develop strong bonds as a cohort through peer-mentoring,’’ Mr Pauschmann said.


That includes Mental Health Mondays and homeroom drop-in sessions to discuss issues in preparing for life after school.

“As a whole school, to keep everyone connected we’ve surveyed our students each week to gauge how they are dealing with lockdown and what their mental health is like, invited mental health guest speakers, organised virtual sporting and other challenges and run a weekly virtual breakfast club celebrating a variety of experiences.’’

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