Let’s face it, we’ve all been thrown into the deep end with the latest lockdown and are all too aware how challengingremote education is for parents and children alike. It can be easy to overlook the amount of work teachers put in to help our children develop and progress. While you cannot be expected to become qualified educators overnight and deliver the same level of education a child would receive at school, it’s important to understand how we can best support our children’s natural curiosity and learning at home. The idea is to create the best possible learning conditions for children at home and help them to engage in and lead their own learning.
Remote learning is not only about doing homework. We all have different needs which can affect our physical and emotional health. Learning on its own is a demanding job and requires environments that support it. With the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is particularly important now, more than ever, to support our children to learn in all environments.
Our guide to homeschool should help you out! We’ll be posting new blogs for parents’ every week, so do let us know if there is anything in particular you want to see.
A Guide to Home Learning
Here are some top tips to support you and your child through the home learning process.
"Patience is a virtue", they say, and we can quickly learn that being patient with our children is half of the success. If your child seems to be stuck on a particular issue and you find yourself confused as to how to help – move on – teaching your child to come back to tricky questions or tasks and revisit them with fresh eyes can teach them about resilience and task-management.
Not sure how to answer a question or work out a problem in your child’s work? Don't head straight to the answer sheet or feel ashamed for not knowing immediately. By spending time attempting to work through activities together with your child is an excellent opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your child while teaching them problem-solving skills.
Create a plan, but keep it flexible
Create a timetable, plan out your week in advance, get your child involved in the planning process. Don’t worry too much about sticking to a strict schedule however – forcing your child to do maths work, when they’re really excited to do their history work can cause unnecessary tension and reduce productivity. As long as you set out clear learning, play and rest times to support your child to stick to a routine, you should be just fine!
Having frequent breaks from sitting still will help you and your child. It is important that kids get up from the desk and stretch a little, burn some energy and refresh the mind. You should always factor in time to move around and exercise wherever possible.
On YouTube, we can find a big selection of yoga or fitness classes for kids that could be great fun at the same time. There are workouts for beginners, more advanced, younger and older, everyone will find something for themselves. Joe Wicks will be starting his live YouTube sessions next week on Monday 11 January 9am, he has fun workouts that the whole family can get involved in.
Make it part of your everyday
Your child doesn’t need to be sat at a desk to learn. You can easily incorporate learning into fun day to day activities. Educational videos such as Our Planet, for example, can be a great resource – once they’ve watched the programme, you can create a list of questions to ask your child. Nothing too complicated (e.g., the different animals they saw, whether they can describe what they look like). This is still a learning process.
For your older children, you might want to get them involved in daily household activities. For example, if you’re buying a new TV, why not ask your child to measure how big it would be using a ruler? When shopping, why not ask your child to work out simple discounts. Not only are they learning about the ways their knowledge can be used in real-world scenarios, but they will feel like a more included member of the household unit.
Support social interaction
One of the key benefits of school, is that your child gets to interact with other students, build friendships and develop their communication skills. Where possible we should be encouraging children to talk to their friends - such contact is extremely important for the mental balance of a child’s development. There are a variety of instant messenger apps for this type of communication such as, Zoom, Skype WhatsApp. Younger children may need a little help to learn how to use them and should be monitored by a responsible adult.
While there are really helpful online resources available to children, try to encourage them to learn in different ways. Your child could write a letter to their grandparents or find a pen pal scheme. Helping your child to discover and use all the different tools available to them supports them to learn in all environments.
After finishing online classes, let’s not chase the children to do homework immediately – they should have time to rest from learning. Allowing for some downtime and playing can help create a more balanced day.
Reach out for support
Being involved and supportive of home learning is really important for a child's development, however you don't have to take the burden on yourself. If you are able to form a childcare bubble, make the most out of the support. Or you might want to reach out to other parents who are struggling through social media or parenting forums. If you are able to afford it, you might want to access a tutor who can cover the difficult stuff! If not, resources, such as our Boost Box can really help reduce the load.
The Challenges of a Lockdown
Lockdowns and the resulting isolation aren’t easy to cope with. The current situation forces parents to take on additional responsibilities. Remote learning, and everything related to it, keeps many parents awake at night. The difficulty arises especially when parents are working or have problems motivating their kids to learn.
A good home learning plan can help the weeks of distance learning be more effective and help your child’s knowledge develop over time. However, remember, it takes time to get used to new situations – for both you and your child.
The key is to remain calm and to be kind to yourself first and foremost. Allowing your child an hour’s TV time while you attend an important virtual meeting isn’t going to destroy any progress made – in fact, it might give them the break they need to then refocus on the work and will help you to be less distracted by other pressures. Maintaining good mental health during this period will help you to support your child and enable you to take the opportunity to build closer connections with your little one.
Working and learning environments and opportunities come in different forms – explore these with your child to determine what works best for the both of you.