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More top tips for parents and carers: home schooling

By Lauren Sandhu, on 15 May 2020

This is the second in our series of blog posts which aim to help parents and carers manage the transition to home schooling.  If you have just discovered our blog, then you may wish to check out our first blog for top tips 1-5.  This series is written by Karen Roberts our Senior Access Officer for pupil engagement. Karen is a former teacher and has lots of experience working with young people. We will be posting on a regular basis so please check back for more tips and ideas as the summer term progresses.

Tip 6 – Focus on literacy

Encourage your child to read every day at their own pace. It is no secret that regular reading is one of the best ways to improve your child’s literacy at all stages of development and some children may find reading relaxing.  This doesn’t have to be books; it can include any suitable reading material that you have at home, such as free newspapers (although we suggest only allowing them to read specific sections which you have checked for content), magazines or re-reading written materials that they were given at school.

Similarly, creative writing can help develop both reading and writing skills.  You can ask your child to write about what they’ve done that day or you may decide to give them a particular theme, such as ‘friendship’.  They can also make a comic by adding pictures to their story.

Tip 7 – Work on numeracy

Use this time to go over fundamental maths skills with your children, such as number bonds, times tables, division, addition and subtraction strategies.  You could also try simple arithmetic games which test literacy skills at the same time.  For example, assign points to every letter of the alphabet between 1-26 (A=1, B=2, C=3 and so on up to Z=26).  Then, for younger children, you could ask them to work out the total value of certain words; for example, “how many points are there in the word ‘dog’?”  For older children, you could increase the level of challenge by asking them to come up with words which add up to a certain number of points; for example, “can you come up with a word that has 12 points?”

Tip 8 – If you are sharing home schooling responsibilities, think about how best to divide your time

You will undoubtedly find it difficult to home school all day and also get other things done!  Some of you may decide to split your home school schedule into shifts, meaning that one parent might supervise in the morning, while the other parent supervises in the afternoon.  Depending on your other commitments and the size of your family, some of you may prefer to divide your home schooling by age group so that one parent helps the younger children, while the other helps the older children and on different days, you may switch over.  There is no right or wrong.  Feel free to change things around until you find the arrangement that best suits your and your family’s needs.

Tip 9 – Enlist the help of others where you can

If you aren’t confident about certain subjects, have a think about whether you could ask someone else to help.  For example, does your child have older siblings or cousins who might be able to help, particularly if they have already advanced to A-level or university level study?  Do you have any relatives or friends who might be able to look over your child’s work via WhatsApp?  Or they could talk through their homework with them on the phone?  Also, don’t be afraid to contact your child’s school to see if you can speak to your child’s subject teacher for some advice as, in many cases, school staff will be checking emails on a regular basis.

Tip 10 – Remember that home lessons do not have to cost you extra money

Money is tight for many of us at this time, so here are some more ideas for learning activities you can do with your children at minimal cost:

  • Send your child/ren on a treasure hunt around your home (and garden if you have one), with instructions such as ‘find something white’, ‘find something that has a nice smell’, ‘find something soft’ etc. Try to include at least ten items on the list and try to cover sight, smell, taste, touch and sound.
  • Ask them to draw a picture of whatever they can see from the windows of your home (this can just be a pencil sketch if you don’t have any coloured pencils or paints).
  • Help them to make a simple paper banner to decorate your home for the summer.
  • To further develop literacy, encourage your child to design their own word search or crossword for you or their siblings to complete.
  • Set them a photography challenge to take pictures to illustrate the times we’re currently living in; for example, their mood, daily activities and anything important that happens such as clapping for the NHS. You will find these interesting to look back at once life returns to normal.

We wish you all the best with home schooling and once again, remember not to put too much pressure on yourself and just do the best that you can.  Also, keep checking the Access and Widening Participation Office’s blog to see how we can help.

Some useful resources for parents and carers:

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