With schools closing down several weeks ago and no firm plans of when children will be heading back to the classroom yet, parents across the UK are having to tackle homeschooling. It’s an experience that can be rewarding, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its challenges.
Whatever age your child is, there’s an overwhelming amount of information available online about education and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of homeschooling. It can be difficult to sift through all that and some parents are finding themselves under pressure as they try to maintain the same level of education children would be receiving at school. If it’s something you’re struggling with, these seven tips could help.
1. Set a routine, but remember it’s not school
Setting a routine as much as possible is advisable. Understanding what they’ll be doing each day can help keep children focused on the work and projects they’ll be carrying out, remember to schedule in breaks and lunch too so they know when a recess is coming up too.
Whilst at first you may be tempted to plan a full school schedule from 9-3 filled with academic subjects, this can be challenging at home. Set a realistic routine that includes the core subjects of English and maths each day and a few other subjects that you can get more creative with. It’s worth keeping in mind that without the distraction of classmates and one-on-one attention from parents, children are likely to get through the work they’d typically do at school faster too.
Remember that school classes aren’t all academic either, taking part in art projects and playing are part of a typical school day. So, don’t beat yourself up if your child isn’t sat at a desk during their typical school hours.
2. Create a designated space
You may be working from home too, making designated office and classroom space a little tight. But setting some space aside can help children get into the right frame of mind and enable them to step away from schoolwork once ‘classes’ have finished. Whether it’s at your dining table or in the home office, try to make sure the space is as free from distractions as possible. A clean space with everything they need at the start of each session, from water to pens, can minimise the number of disruptions and get the work completed quicker.
3. Find out how your child works best
School can be fairly rigid in how they teach children, after all, there can be 30 children in a class. Homeschooling presents an opportunity to find out how your child prefers to learn, something that will be invaluable for them as they progress through education and have to take more responsibility.
Homeschooling is a chance to let children learn at their own pace too. Those that get a concept quickly aren’t held back and can move on to something else, whilst you can dedicate more time to those areas where they need more support to fully understand the work.
4. Don’t be afraid to use the TV and online resources
We read a lot about the importance of limiting screen time, especially for young children. But the TV and internet offer fantastic resources that can help children learn and make it fun too. Take history, for example, the CBBC Horrible Histories TV show is filled with games and songs that will entertain whilst teaching, or you could visit the British Museum from your sofa to discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. Using pen and paper is still important, but technology can help escape the monotony of lockdown and inject some much-needed fun.
5. Arrange study sessions
Some schools across the country are hosting online teaching sessions. These are a great opportunity to learn with their teacher and see friends. With children missing out on the social aspect of school, these are important for simply chatting and catching up too.
If your child’s school hasn’t arranged these or you know that your child learns best in a group, why not organise a study session with some friends? It can help motivate them and improve their learning outcomes. Depending on the age of your child, one option would be to put a different child in charge of a ‘lesson’, providing a sense of responsibility and an opportunity to improve understanding by explaining it to others.
6. Let them have some say in projects
Now is a great time to let children indulge in passion projects. Whilst the core subjects of maths and English are essential to maintain when homeschooling, it’s worth asking what they’d like to learn about too. Whether science experiments or learning how to code sparks their interest, it can help get them through the day and provide a chance to build skills and knowledge they enjoy.
7. Get active
School isn’t about just sitting at a desk and learning, breaks, lunchtime and PE class are an important part of education and good for mental and physical health too. If children are flagging when it comes to the usual school tasks a quick burst of energy can help them focus ready for the next session.
Try incorporating some form of exercise into your routine every day. The Body Coach Joe Wicks has been doing a daily PE class online that’s gone down incredibly well across the country. The live sessions are fun and whether you choose to join in or take the time to focus on other areas, they’ll keep the kids entertained for 30 minutes.