We live in unusual times; people are being told to work from home wherever possible and schools have been closed meaning that our children are also at home. No-one yet knows how long this will last but it could be some time and the last thing we want is for out children’s education to suffer whilst they are at home. The only option we have is to support them in home schooling and this is probably something very few of us have experience in. Here are a few handy tips to get the best from home schooling whilst also being able to carry out your day-to-day work activities.
Don’t let standards slip
Although the children are at home, it is important to understand that this isn’t an early or extended school holiday. The children need to understand that they will be expected to study at home and that you expect them to focus. It is to be expected that children might behave differently with you as the “teacher” as there isn’t a formal class environment. Without being too strict and formal, make sure that they understand that you expect them to behave as if they were in school and to focus properly on the task in hand. If you can, set up a desk area for them to work at and this will help create the right environment.
Set-up a Timetable
You should have had some study guides from the school and using these, set up a daily schedule for lessons that your child can understand and follow. For younger children, schedule “lessons” to be around 20 minutes each and cover all the basics that they would at school like maths, english, reading and writing. Explain the schedule to your children and show them when they will be doing lessons and when they will have breaks. This will maintain the routine in their life.
Use Real life
Not all learning is done using textbooks or worksheets. You can help your child learn when doing pretty much anything. Need to do some subtraction? Why not get your child to help while cooking: If you have 6 eggs and need 2 how many are left? Heard a new word on the TV? You could help your little one define it and also learn to spell it. You could even turn your stairs into the times table by letting the kids climb in multiples.
Simple chores will help your child develop analytical thinking. Ask your child to help you load the washing machine but get them to analysis the steps required and talk them through with you. Ask them questions to prompt their thought process.
If you want your child to keep up their writing, then why not have them write about a game they played or write what was fun about the day? You can help with spellings and letter formation and it will probably help teach them words that they might not learnt in school yet.
This is also a great opportunity to teach your children life skills, depending on their age you can introduce them to cooking, gardening, sewing, cleaning, DIY, washing and ironing, cleaning and maintaining the car etc. Children generally enjoy learning new things and they will be missing this, appreciate there is a void there waiting to be filled.
It is easy to want to push the children to finish a task, do one more task or keep rigidly to the schedule you wrote. This will be counterproductive and turn the process into a battle. Keep an eye on your little one and watch for attention swings or comments which would suggest they are flagging. Don’t force them to finish a task if you sense this and let them have a break. You know your child best so this shouldn’t be too hard but just remember that this isn’t school and to allow an element of flexibility.
If the academic work is getting too much you can sit them in front of an age appropriate documentary and give them the chance to learn from that. If you have time, watch it with them and ask them questions throughout.
Be flexible in your work too. If you need block off a couple of hours every day to help with the home schooling. Ensure your manager knows and your colleagues and contacts and work flexibly around your new commitments. It is easier for you to juggle your day than to take the little one out of their routine.
If you are balancing both your work life and their schooling you might need to give them some rules around you and your work. Explain clearly to them that you also have to work, they will need to be able to complete some tasks by themselves to give you some time to do your work and if you close the door to where you are, for example, this means you are not to be disturbed until the door is open. This way you will also be able to get on with your work too.
Make it Fun
Kids will not learn effectively if it isn’t fun. Remember that they are young and learn in different ways to us. Don’t push them too hard and be patient. Put humour into the learning and allow their personality to come through. We are not trained teachers, so it is hard to be patient or understanding but it is important that we are. Don’t forget to take a break yourself.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
There is every chance that some of the things your children will be learning will be like rocket science to us. Education has changed a lot since we were at school and learning methods are difference so, if you don’t understand what they are doing just try to support them and give them the structure and opportunity to learn. If needed reach out via Facetime or another video messaging service to friends in your network who might be able to help.
Home schooling is not easy at the best of times, use the resources the school has sent home for your child, make a loose schedule to maintain a routine and be flexible. Ensure your work understands that you will be home schooling and block out times in your diary. Most importantly, breathe! We will get through this and in the mean time try to make great memories with your children whilst maintaining their important education as best as you can.