Families across the UK are scrambling to figure out how they can keep their children’s education going at home.
With school closures happening all across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, public schools are varying widely in what they offer. Schools have a legal obligation to provide equal learning opportunities for all students, but it can be hard for schools to guarantee access to necessary hardware, like laptops, tablets and WiFi for all students.
If you’re one of the tens of millions of parents who are now essentially home-schooling your kids, we have some tips to help you keep your kids engaged and everyone sane:
6 Top Tips to Help with Home-Schooling
From our experience, children and adults react well to structure, especially a morning routine. Try to design the learning schedule together and if possible, allocate a specific workspace for your new class – their new classroom. This way they can primarily associate this space with their learning and will find it easier to switch off when in other areas of the house.
To try and maintain some links to their usual school experience, consider setting break and lunch times. Make sure you take into consideration any of your work commitments that may affect this if you aim to align your work with their learning time.
There will be ample opportunity in the evening for some downtime and being firm on breaks will help to reinforce the value of learning time.
If you can co-ordinate this time with their friend’s families, the children could regain some of the social elements by communicating with others and having some virtual playtime.
Set up Designated Space and Time for Learning
Children may need to move around during the day, have your kids pack up their materials into a basket so they can put them aside when they’re finished.
Same goes for time. While it’s good to have a general daily routine, you can also be flexible. It’s ok to let your kids sleep in a little later than usual — research shows many of our children and teens are chronically sleep-deprived. Plus, most home schoolers don’t teach seven hours straight a day. Aim for two to four good academic hours instead. And don’t forget to get outside.
Know your Child
Strong learners can do even better independently, but weaker learners may really struggle. Different kids will do best in different learning environments. If your child learns better in groups, try a Zoom study session with a fellow classmate. The older kids are, the longer they may be able to work on their own. And remember, resources are going to become available slowly for students who need them, you may not have to do this all by yourself.
Free Online Resources are Amazing but Just the Beginning
Free online educational resources don’t equal free education. Don’t get bogged down by the flood of downloadable PDFs and lesson plans available online. If you’re working from home yourself, they can be especially overwhelming.
Instead, find a couple of resources that work and build from there. Prioritise your child’s greatest need and then their biggest interest or passion. Look for resources that will keep them connected to their real-life.
Plan and Prioritise the Core Subjects
If you’re not a teacher by trade, give yourself some realistic goals – trying to conquer the whole curriculum is probably going to make you and your child anxious, especially if you’re juggling your work and this new teaching role. Prioritise the core curriculum – Maths, English and Science.
There are lots of ways to cover the rest of the curriculum and you can get creative with these, for example, watching Horrible Histories or Blue Planet is a great way to cover some of the humanities. And don’t worry, Ofsted won’t be calling anytime soon.
There is an abundance of free online resources, as well as those that your child’s school will probably send you. Instead, prioritise and plan what you’re going to cover, and do your best to execute your plan. Like any new job, the first few days will be about finding your feet.
Keep up Writing Skills
These are extraordinary times, so encourage your children to document what’s going on in their lives. A daily journal helps kids keep track of not just day-to-day events but their thoughts and feelings about it as well. If that’s not your child’s thing, suggest that they write out a short story.
Most of all, try to see this weird time together as an opportunity. The activities that excite kids tend to be the ones they learn from most easily, If it’s engaging, they’re going to learn from it.
Breathe. This at-home break will end, and life will eventually return to normal. But in the meantime, you might spark learning that lasts a lifetime.