5 helpful tips for home schooling
Uncertainty is scary for everyone, but we can take comfort by support within our families and communities. It is now a time to come together and connect, as society does not function alone! We have now lost the main constant in our lives – school. However, what we need to recognise is that even though school has stopped, learning does not. We don’t know when this will end, we can’t control that – but we can control how we deal with it.
We can have control over this situation if we put on our objective hats and focus on daily tasks and pre plan and take charge. The main concern of our children is the lack of structure to our days. We would associate days at home with holidays and wind down time, having fun, watching endless TV and not needing to do any work.
At home it is very easy to associate with this however, over time this novelty will wear off. The lack of structure will create havoc. Children are unaware of the complexities of this pandemic, so we need to understand their perspective and support them through this challenging time. But then again, children can be very resourceful, resilient and ‘in the moment’. There is no bell to tell us when lunch and end of school is, or there is nobody to hold us accountable for not getting out of bed. This is not a holiday. We still need to learn and the prospect of doing this without a regular routine and teachers nearby is a scary one for many families. So, let us help you in making this work. Remember that great learning only happens when children feel happy, safe and secure. Always provide your children with reassurance and love, this is now the time to really get to know your child.
1. Prioritise your child’s well-being. Paramount.
We can go fast or slow with the curriculum, we must appreciate the time we are able to spend with our children while the schools are closed, by encouraging them to take a relaxed, flexible approach to an education schedule. But don’t feel pressure to make everything perfect. Don’t get upset when things don’t go to plan. Happy and relaxed parents are always a positive. Relax and enjoy spending time with your children. Any anxieties and children will pick up on this. At these times what we’re going through will give you the opportunity to form close relationships with your children. This helps you get to know their learning styles, personalities and to form memories that will last a lifetime. Take this time to develop and explore values and morals, allow your child to understand what is right and wrong. Don’t put up a fight but always different approaches that is right for your child.
Please always remember to praise your child’s efforts and behaviour, not their achievements, by using positive constructive praise that targets – effort, behaviour and specific aspects of a child’s work which is much more powerful than just saying ‘well done for completing your work’ be engaged and acknowledge effort and behaviour. Create mindful dialogue and activities. This is key to successful parenting.
2.Routine is key.
Children need normality, familiarity and structure. So, keep to a routine. It makes home schooling easier and helps children to realise this is not a holiday, and that it is the expectation of your teachers to learn. We all know what lack of routine can do for both parent and child. A routine will (hopefully) bring down the anxiety levels, peace of mind, keep the children engaged and we know how much children thrive on routine. Stick to it.
To construct a routine write it down on paper and make it visible to all and stick to it! Give your child some autonomy Let your child create their own structure or timetable for the day, combining their breaks, ideas and home learning. If they try and schedule double games console every morning, then it’s probably time for you to step in, but give them the option first. I think you will be impressed with the outcome. Include PE and craft time in your schedule. Endorse some movement breaks like dancing or home circuits. Set out some shared ground rules and display them and make sure you all take heed. Be fair.
Make a balance of family interaction and independent quiet time. It’s okay for children to get bored so add independent activities to your routine, (the key is that they get bored and want to return to your schedule!) Children need structure. It is important to remain fair and avoid your child negotiating with you! You can have a Friday afternoon slot for reward time. Do something extra special with them, in this way you will all get through each week.
Have an end of school but don’t forget that you still need to pack the day with further less structured activities, board games, building a den, craft time, books or view documentaries. It is fundamental to keep this structure right through to bedtime.
3. Limit tablets and TV.
It will be important for friends to stay in virtual contact with each other as long as interactions are friendly, safe and supportive – but avoid an unhealthy overreliance on screen time in all of its guises. Too much screen time has very negative effects on physical and mental health and it disrupts sleep patterns as well. Variety is key: exercise, reading a great book and learning a new skill are all suitable ways of avoiding the sheer monotony of a TV and computer screen. It is a chance to talk and share, allow this to be a mindful activity.
4. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal for both child and parent is a wonderful activity and can emphasise your togetherness. Journaling on the day will help to consolidate the day with your child and can be used as a tick list for what the child has learnt and how they are feeling. Make this a mindful and downtime activity which the whole family can do. It is important at a time like this we can be reflective in our relationships and parenting. Having conversations for facts and feelings are critical to allaying fears or anxieties and allow children to have control of their emotions and information. Children as well as adults need an outlet. When we come out the other side of this it would be a wonderful way to recall these days (even when they are older, they can have a keepsake).
5. Embed Maths and English.
Continue to practise essential English and maths. Review fundamental maths skills such as number bonds, times tables, division facts and addition/subtraction strategies. Encourage your child to write for pleasure about what they’ve done that day, or make a comic, story books, project work, use these essential in everyday scenarios. Learning should be fun so be creative in incorporating the curriculum. Ensure your child reads every day. Read anything that counts and don’t forget bedtime downtime. Search the web for free resources for your subject. There are numerous websites now offering premium content for free during the challenge. Once you child is in the home-schooling learning mindset, learning will become the norm. Stick with it, be confident and be consistent. You can do this!
We are all in it together.
It is vital that you look after yourself. I always say this, but you are number one. As a parent we must nurture and keep well during this phase. Try not to worry about the situation. Take a break from social media or fake news, find a new distraction, a new hobby or a book you left halfway. Find yourself a new challenge or an online course that you’ve been meaning to complete.
Now, more than ever, we are a team. In the words of High School Musical, “We’re all in this together.”
Take care, keep safe, stay home.