Top tips to keep your children occupied and learning while homeschooling
As the UK’s schools close, once again, due to the 3rd national lockdown, many parents will be faced with the struggle of supporting their children's learning from home as well juggling work and running the home.
Nicola Anderson - Head of Customer Support at leading online tutoring service MyTutor, provides her tips to help parents cope.
Have some go-to resources lined up.
You’re likely to run into situations where your child doesn’t understand some of their course content and you’re unable to help. In these situations, having some resources ready is wise. Look up the specifications for the subjects your child is studying from the relevant exam boards and bookmark any online resources that can help you out. Save My Exams and S-cool are two handy sites.
Look for online support.
Self-study is an incredibly hard skill to master and secondary school pupils may struggle without someone actively explaining concepts to them. If you feel unable to help your child study while also dealing with your own workload, it is worth finding an online tutor who can help your child fill in any gaps in their knowledge. Online lessons are like having
a face-to-face skype call with a tutor but with an interactive whiteboard on the screen too so students can upload documents and make notes. A tutor can keep students on track with the syllabus and give them a much-needed boost of confidence in what is a confusing and challenging time.
Set good habits around phone use and have honest conversations.
Teens spend a lot of time on apps speaking with their friends anyway - and isolation will only increase their desire
to communicate socially. While some communication will be positive for their mental health, the opposite is true when social media fuels feelings of isolation and anxiety. You’ll need to set some ground rules for how phones are used during the day and make sure to have honest conversations with them about their mood.
Organise your days (and make sure to go outside!).
Without the structure of a work or school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a dive.
Create a timetable that’ll work for both you and your child, covering their subjects and your own workload. Divide up periods of work and study with active breaks. Make sure that you and your child keep active, go outside, eat meals at the appropriate times and have offline conversations.
For younger children especially, one effective tool for doing this is to ensure that different areas of the house correlate to different subjects. If you have a garden, this is a great place for PE lessons to take place. For those core subjects, a separate desk in one corner of the house will help kids focus. Other useful life skills can also be taught during this time at home - such as basic cooking skills.
For older children, having their own space in the house where they can work, away from their bedroom, will also help to set good work habits.
Putting up signs can help too - whether they be subject signs for different areas of the house, or signs with a few key facts on; similar to posters that might be found in the classroom. Getting kids to help with these displays will also be beneficial and seeing their work on the walls will be a source of motivation.
Make sure you and your child have got a space to work and any equipment you may need.
Set up a desk in a quiet corner of the house where your child can keep their laptop, textbooks and notes - they’ll find it much easier to focus and the rest of the family can continue life as normal. As schools would normally provide things like flashcards, exercise books and planners, it may be worth preparing some creative stimuli in order to keep them interested and occupied.
Keep an eye out for mental health issues.
If you have to homeschool your child, don’t panic. We’re more set-up than ever before to manage a situation like
this. Remember, lots of parents (about 50,000!) choose to homeschool their kids regardless of Coronavirus. What is important is to look out for signs that your child isn’t coping mentally with a home set-up. Despondency and withdrawal or anger and higher-than-usual levels of irritability can all point to stress. There are lots of great services you can call on for support such as Kooth and YoungMinds.