Our partners at Tutorwiz share their tips on homeschooling during lockdown
With schools closed to 4.5 million British schoolchildren amid the coronavirus pandemic, weeks of home education stretch out before many parents. Parents' roles over the coming weeks and months will have a significant impact on children's education, with maintaining routines being a key challenge.
How should I be teaching my children?
While many schools are sending out resources and work for their students, parents may find they need an extra helping hand with their children's work. Routine is paramount for children, as is direction, guidance and motivation. Putting together a timetable with your children and working collaboratively with them so they can feel like they've had a say in this timetable will alleviate conflicts. Weekly lesson plans that will guide and mentor your children and keep them engaged are essential, but they do not forget that they do need breaks during the day. Keeping children active is as important as keeping them mentally stimulated.
Here are some top tips to help keep your child engaged and learning.
1. Routine, Routine, Routine
Split the day down to a timetable or schedule and break those lessons down to even smaller bite-sized chunks. Remember, the first twenty minutes of any lesson is the sweet spot for a child to retain and aid long-term memory.
Try to design the learning schedule together and if possible, allocate a place to do the work, which will be their new school desk. This way, they know where to go when ‘school’ starts and will find it easier to switch off when in other areas of the house.
Remember to set breaks and lunchtimes. When the time comes for a break, try to move around, make some noise and have fun. Make sure you consider 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 reinforce the value of learning time.
2. Motivation Techniques
Cat Stevens sang a song about "In The Old School Yard" for those who can remember him. Take a listen. Haven't times changed?
At school, most children had a teacher they liked most, but as a parent, it might be a little challenging to be ‘that teacher’. A fun progress chart or score sheet is a good way for you both to get a visual idea of your child’s progress. You can use stickers to show improvement on subjects or individual pieces of work. Incentives at the end of each day can help children stay motivated, especially if they see their ‘progress bar’ increasing.
One crucial factor that can be adopted is to invite your child to teach you elements of what they have learned. It is fun and enjoyable, and it lets the parent pretend to be a student again. The dynamics of this is quite remarkable. You will see your child grow a little, and it tells you how much of the subject they have retained.
3. Introduce Practical Lessons
Sometimes it seems that the last thing your child wants to do is sit down quietly at a desk. At the end of a long week, or on a particularly challenging day, try practical activities. These may take the form of an educational game, at-home science experiment or exploring in the garden. Though the lessons learned aren’t on a curriculum, there is still learning involved.
Children will also benefit from the interaction with you. Time together, with you teaching something practical, embeds the learning and increases your child’s confidence to ask questions if they are struggling to understand something.
4. Lifestyle Aspects
Remember that the body needs feeding as much as the brain does. Give your child a bottle or cup to use for water. If they usually have specific water bottle for school, use that at home during lessons to keep them hydrated. Cut out the sugary snacks as much as possible and try to make meal times and cooking part of the day's learning process.
Exercise is vital too, of course, although those with younger children may find that kicking a ball around in the garden or taking lunch to the park will be a lot easier than structured P.E. lessons.
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