Be a Homeschool Hero!
Many of us are now in the position of supervising our children’s home learning whilst also trying to do our own jobs. This is no easy task, but fortunately Liz from our Marketing Department used to be a Primary School Teacher, and is on hand with some advice for those of you who are taking on the challenge to become homeschool heroes!
Stick to a structure
It can be tempting to try and be flexible about when and how your children learn at home, however children actually find routines helpful to their learning. Having a routine that in some way shadows the school day is not just good for learning but also for mental health, helping your children to get some sense of ‘normality’ in this less than normal situation.
Primary schools generally try to timetable the ‘core’ subjects – English and Maths – into the morning when the children have most energy and concentration. Afternoons are usually reserved for the more practical subjects. There is usually a morning break of about 20 minutes in length, and an hour-long lunchbreak – which would be a great time to get your daily exercise together!
Find a balance between on and off-screen learning
There are loads of online options for primary and secondary learning, including the BBC Bitesize offer that launched this week. Your school may also be sending through online tasks for your children to complete. However, make sure that you also include some off-screen learning as this will make your children think in different ways, and also give their eyes a break from screen-glare!
At the moment in our house we have set up a system where when we have meetings or phone calls, our daughter does screen-based learning. But when we are working on general work tasks she does off-screen learning, as it is ok for her to interrupt us if she has questions or needs some help.
Make time for reading
If there is one thing you can do with younger children to make this time count, it is listen to them read. Primary teachers never have enough time to listen to all the children read individually as much as they would like, so you can make a real difference to your child’s learning here! Try and get them to read from different types of text – fiction and non-fiction. Where appropriate get them to read with expression as if they were an actor telling the story. Make a note of words that they don’t know and discuss these with them, then return to the list later in the week and see if they can still remember the definitions.
Practise your times tables
As someone who never learnt her times tables and consequently had to marry an accountant just to be able to get by in life, I would definitely recommend that you focus on these with your children! Times tables are the building blocks for most of the maths curriculum, so getting fluent with these is a must. You don’t have to spend ages on these, in fact they work better if you just randomly shout out “9 x 3 =” when the children are not expecting it, as this helps them to develop quicker recall.
Don’t forget the social aspect
What our children are missing most about school right now isn’t the lessons, it’s the time spent with their friends. If your children have their own phones then they will be staying in contact. If they’re too young for this, then it’s really important that you arrange with other parents how they can maintain their friendships. Using FaceTime or WhatsApp video calls on your phone, or Skype or Zoom on a tablet or laptop would be ideal. You should also let them have these conversations in private – no hanging around and joining in! Perhaps you can arrange a rota so that your children have a different friend to talk to each day at breaktime? And don’t forget that you can add multiple people to a video call so that their entire friendship group can catch up in one go!
Perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you is that you’re not a teacher and you don’t need to pretend to be! Don’t worry about your children ‘falling behind’ – everyone’s children are in the same boat therefore no-one is ‘behind’ or ‘ahead’! If you can keep your children safe, happy, and entertained during this period then you are absolutely doing your job as a parent! And that makes you… a homeschool hero!
If you have any questions about home learning please feel free to contact Liz.