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Top tips for parents and carers: home schooling

By Lauren Sandhu, on 4 May 2020

We understand that home schooling is a challenge for many parents and carers at this time, so we wanted to play our part in helping you to manage the transition. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing posts on our blog with lots of top tips for parents and carers 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.

Some of these tips come from advice published by the UCL Institute of Education.

Tip 1 – Establish a routine

One of the best ways to make the change to home schooling is to establish a routine as soon as possible.

For example:

  • Copy the school timetable as far as possible so that your child is familiar with the structure of each learning day.
  • Include similar break-times and meal times each day (if possible and/or appropriate).
  • Work with your child to see how you can recreate school at home, for example, ringing a bell or having a timer to mark the end of a lesson or time for a break.
  • Encourage your child to change out of their nightwear in the morning and get dressed to start their ‘school’ day at home. This can be a good way of making the distinction between the learning day and leisure time.

Tip 2 – Work with your child/children to create a ‘school space’

Depending on how much space you have, you could give each child a separate work area in the same room, or have one child study in their bedroom while another studies in the living room.  Alternatively, you can identify a ‘school’ chair where learning takes place.  Wherever you decide to set up your ‘school space’, try to minimise the distractions around that area of your home during the learning day.

Tip 3 – Work with your child to plan learning activities

One of the most powerful resources you have at your fingertips is your child/children.

Ask them how the family can make things work.  Questions might include:

  • What is the best way for me to help you?
  • How are we doing?
  • What can we improve next week?

Children are great problem solvers.  Working together on preparing the materials needed for a lesson and creating the visual resources may help to motivate and engage them.

Also remember that, in school, children are learning in groups with a teacher so working alongside them from time to time can show support (whether you’re working from home yourself or reading a book or a magazine while they study).

Tip 4 – Use ‘Now and Next’ Cards

Some children who struggle to concentrate or remain motivated may benefit from ‘Now and Next’ cards.  This is a particularly good way of introducing rewards for finishing tasks.

If your child struggles with this, make the ‘target task’ very short, followed quickly by the reward activity.  For example, you could say something like ‘For art lesson today, I’d like you to paint a rainbow which we can put in our front window.  If you spend the next 15 minutes doing that, then you can spend 15 minutes on your phone’.  You can extend the time spent on the ‘target task’ gradually once you child learns to trust the reward process.

You can find some resources to help on the Twinkl website.

Tip 5 – Use whatever you have at home to create lessons

You don’t need to spend extra money to create fun learning activities for your children.

Some ideas for no-cost or low-cost activities include:

  • Baking a cake or cooking a meal with them.
  • Helping them to keep a diary of how they are spending their time in lockdown.
  • Making cards for elderly/isolated neighbours.
  • Learning a dance routine (which you could video).
  • Writing a play and performing it to the family (also a good one to video).

And don’t forget – you are not expected to become an expert in every subject that your child has been learning at school.  This is not realistic so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your child’s teachers will get them back on track when they return to school so in the meantime, just do your best to support your child’s learning and stay safe.

Some useful resources for parents and carers:

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