Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, remote learning has become a feature of life for most families in the UK. Children across the country are now learning from home through email assignments and online lessons.
You already know that supporting your child with their homework helps them learn effectively. But supporting them to access the full school curriculum from home is a whole different challenge.
It’s not easy to convert homes into classrooms, especially if you have younger children and you’re trying to work from home. But don’t panic! By making a few simple changes you can help your child get the most out of remote learning.
Here are 5 ways to help your child learn at home successfully
1. Create a clutter-free learning area
If your child already has a space to do homework, make sure it’s clean and tidy. If they don’t have a specific learning space, create one.
Don’t worry, creating a learning space doesn’t necessarily mean buying a new desk or dusting off your carpentry skills (although if you want to do those things, go ahead). You can create a dedicated learning space within on your dining table if needs be. What your child needs for remote learning is:
- space to for their books and laptop,
- a flat surface for writing on, and
- a suitable chair to sit in.
And, most importantly, the learning space should be quiet, clean and clutter-free. That’s because clutter is distracting; removing it will help your child focus.
So, turn off the TV and take away the hand-held games and empty mugs. If do use the dining table as a learning space, clear away the place mats, cutlery, and condiments. You can put them back again when the school day is finished.
2. Get organised – make a schedule and stick to your routines
Routines aren’t just important for learning – they help maintain good mental health too. It’s tempting to let your child sleep in, especially if they’re a teenager. Remember though: the lockdown won’t last forever. Keeping some routines now will help your child transition back into school when it reopens. So set an alarm, and make sure your child is dressed and fed before learning starts. That’s especially important if your child has a full timetable of live online lessons.
Beyond the morning routines, your child needs a learning timetable that specifies what activities and work will be done, in what order, and when. Get your child to help write the learning timetable – it’ll help them engage better with remote learning.
There are a few things to consider when devising a learning schedule:
- Does your child need help with certain activities? If so, set these at a time when you will be free to help, not when you’re cooking, helping other children, or taking a work call.
- Don’t forget free time – at school, your child isn’t stuck at their desk all day, they move between classrooms and have regular short break times. In fact, taking short, regular breaks will aid concentration and improve learning, so factor them into the schedule. Breaks at home could involve screen time, perhaps a short phone or video chat with their school friends to maintain social contact, but it’s important to set limits – watching a 2-hour movie in the middle of the school day will disrupt their focus.
- Factor test days and assignment deadlines into your learning schedule. Using a calendar or learning diary will help them (and you) break assignments and revision into manageable steps, so you the work get done in good time and your child is fully prepared for any tests.
Once you’ve set your schedule, stick to it. That way your child knows what to expect and can learn more effectively.
3. Reduce distractions.
Our homes are full of things that can distract your child from remote learning – online gaming, TV, social media, and toys are just a few. Make a note of the potential distractions in your home and look at ways to limit them during the home learning hours.
This may involve turning off your Wi-Fi (once online lessons/downloading are completed) or making a contract with older children to limit screen time. For younger children, clear toys away out of sight while your child is working.
Some distractions are less easy to manage, young siblings being one. You can’t work miracles, and you can’t be both parent and teacher at the same time. It may be that the best way to help your child learn is to occupy their siblings so they have space to concentrate.
4. Communicate with your child’s teacher.
Successful remote learning requires partnership between parents and teaching staff, and communication is key to this partnership.
Communication allows you to ask questions, gain clarity about set work tasks, and share important updates about your child. So, make sure you have a way to communicate with your child’s teacher. This could be via email, or a digital education app like ClassDojo or Edmodo (if your school uses one).
If your child has learning challenges, they may find it harder to organise their workload, and access the learning/reading material provided. In such cases it’s vital to work with teachers to identify and remove any learning barriers and identify what adaptations can be made to support your child with remote learning.
Teachers are busy people, so it may help to agree a day and/or time each week to connect with them. Remember, although many teachers are working from home on flexible hours, flexible, they have their own lives and own family commitments. It may be convenient for you to send an email at 9pm on a Sunday, but it’s not reasonable to expect them to respond outside of their working hours. Boundaries are important if you want to maintain a positive working relationship with your child’s teachers.
5. Make time for exercise.
Exercise helps your child to learn more effectively. That’s because physical activity helps improve our attention span, reasoning skills and memory. And the benefits of exercise don’t stop there – physical activity is a fantastic natural method for reducing stress and preventing anxiety.
So, build exercise into your child’s daily schedule. It’s worth considering the best time for exercise. Some children benefit from a good burst of activity before they settle down to learn, others may need to exercise later in the day, to help them unwind after a long period of concentration.
You should also give some thought the type of exercise that will help your child the most. This could be a daily walk together. Walking is a great way to spend time together, get back to nature, and get a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Being outside also promotes mental wellbeing and reduces anxiety. Other ways to exercise in the home include online workouts or yoga classes specifically designed for families and younger people.