Relationships: That’s What Matters Most Right Now

It’s never been very helpful to argue with kids about homework, and that is especially true right now. With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s no surprise that many kids (and parents, too) are finding it hard to focus on something as ordinary as schoolwork.

We keep hearing that we are all in this together, and it’s true for schoolwork as well. Every student in Alberta has had their year of schooling interrupted. So when the students return to school, teachers will meet students wherever they are at in their learning, and adjust their lessons accordingly.

So while you are working overtime to juggle the demands of working from home and keep everyone in your family healthy and safe, and now you have to worry about how to help your child with their schoolwork, give yourself permission to s-l-o-w- – -d-o-w-n! It’s not a race.

Alberta Education has provided clear guidelines of how much “schoolwork” is expected.  And it’s not as much as you might have originally thought. Your child’s teachers will be communicating with you about what they want your child to learn and how you might go about helping them.

Aside from that, take this unusual gift of time and look for ways to make learning an enjoyable part of your child’s everyday life. Here are some suggestions for your elementary aged children.


  • Make a “word wall” or picture dictionary, where you can collect interesting and intriguing words you read or hear.
  • Use Scrabble letter tiles (or make some of your own using the back of a cereal box) and then build words together. Make new words by changing just one or two letters.
  • Read a book together, no matter what the age of your child, and wonder about what’s going to happen next, or why a character chose to do what they did.
  • Write a story, taking turns with each word, sentence, paragraph or chapter.
  • Draw a picture together. Let your child take the lead, and do your best to copy each step on your own paper. You can take the lead on the next picture.
  • Look for signs of spring, and start a photo collection of what you find.


  • Measure the dimensions of a room, using steps. Use the dimensions to draw a map.
  • Make a half-batch of cookies together, with your child figuring out how much of each ingredient is needed.
  • Let your child make up a problem for you to solve.
  • Give your child a number and have them find as many ways as they can to arrive at that number. For example, “How many different ways can you make 12?” Your child might want to use materials such as bingo chips or buttons to help them represent different ways to show the number.
  • Play games, and let your child keep score. This is a great way to practice mental math.
  • Talk about the difference between games of skill and games of chance. This can help your child deal more constructively with ‘losing’ at a game of chance. For games of skill, help them learn strategies for improving their skill level. How do you keep track of what cards have been played, or the clues that have been given?
  • When you’re reading a book together, see what page you’re on, and figure out how many pages are left. Decide a number of pages you might read each day, and when you expect to be done. 
  • Estimate the number of words on a page and in the book. Do a word count of a page to help refine your estimate. How close were you to your original estimate?
  • Make a list of where we see numeracy skills being used in the real world.

Ideas for Anytime Conversations

Encourage your child to ask questions. Ask them, “What do you wonder about this?” and support your child by asking good questions yourself. Here’s a list of questions that prompt further conversation.

  • What do you need to know next?
  • What do you notice about this?
  • How are these two things alike? How are they different?
  • Why do you think that happened? What if…?
  • Does this make sense? What makes you think you’re right?
  • Why did you choose to do it this way? What are you going to do next?
  • Can you help me understand this part?
  • Is there another way you could do this?
  • Why do you think this didn’t work? What could you try next?
  • Could you make a question of your own that’s like this one?

It’s all about the learning, and your attitude is so important!

Be positive about learning, be interested in what your child is doing, and be excited when a tough problem is solved or a challenge is achieved. Celebrate success. Provide encouragement. Have a conversation. Find time to have fun together every day, and in doing so, you’ll help keep those important relationships intact.

We’ll get through this together, and who knows, the family time we create might just be one thing that we want to remember from this uncertain time.

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