The closure of schools means that parents and carers are now juggling the demands of their own job with the education of their children. Easier said than done!
Right now, there is no way of knowing how long our situation will last and so for families, homeschooling is the current way forward and every parent has been required to step up to the plate.
Of course, every parent’s wish is to ensure their child’s education doesn’t suffer through this time.
Homeschooling is a skill that most of us will need to adapt to. Whilst I'm certainly no expert, these tips may help you and your children navigate this new normal which we all ope is temporary.
So, here are our five top tips for homeschooling during COVID-19.
Create a timetable for the kids
Your children are used to following a routine at school and although it may feel strange to them for a few days, there is no reason why they shouldn’t follow a routine at home too, albeit more flexible! Your child’s school should have provided you with guidance and information regarding specific parts of the curriculum, so using this, create a daily schedule to follow.
With younger children, ideally, keep ‘lessons’ short so that you hold their attention, so around 30 minutes each in which you’ll cover all the basics separately. So, 30 minutes for Maths, 30 minutes for English, Reading, Handwriting and so on.
You should allow a break in between each for ten minutes or so and then longer breaks for drinks, snacks and lunch and of course playtime too! Explain to your child at the start of the day, what they will be doing and why and encourage them to stick with the routine.
Create a timetable for you!
As a working parent it is likely to be impossible for you to spend all day everyday homeschooling your child. In this case you must share the educational tasks as much as you can. If you and your partner are both working from home, agree to take it in turns to deal with schooling. If you are a single parent and have an older child that can help a younger child with reading or writing then this may ease the workload a little.
If you don’t have anyone to help you, don’t stress. There is only so much you can do and even an hour of homeschooling a day is better than none at all.
Use real life experiences
Remember that sometimes the best learning happens without textbooks! In fact, children are learning all the time through all the actions they do in a day.
For example, if you are cooking, your child can count and weigh ingredients – that’s a maths lesson. If you’re watching a favourite TV programme try turning the sound off and turning the subtitles on and asking your child to read them out loud. If it’s a word they can’t pronounce or understand, explain it to them and ask them to write it down – that’s reading, writing and spelling sorted!
At the end of each day, ask your child to write down the best thing about their day and the thing they liked the least. This will help you discover what they really enjoy education-wise and is also another chance for them to practice their writing and spelling skills.
This is also an amazing chance for you to teach your children important life skills. Introduce them to sewing, washing, ironing (depending on their age), cleaning, DIY, etc. These are all skills that are likely to be new to your child and children love learning new things!
Be flexible…but have rules
When you’ve got things to do yourself, it’s easy to push your child to finish a set task or feel like you’ve failed if you don’t keep rigidly to the timetable. But in reality this will be counter-productive, and you’ll end up falling out with your child.
Young children have short attention spans and become tired easily so be aware when they are losing attention or concentration and don’t force them to finish a task. Instead give them a short break and then look at it afresh. Flexibility is vital during tense times.
Try and be flexible with your own work too. Perhaps start work later and make up the hours in the evening or finish earlier so that you have a few hours each day to spend homeschooling your child. Your employer should be sympathetic to your commitments, after all, many thousands of employees are in the same position.
There must also be rules around your work. If you need peace and quiet, close the door to the room you are working in if possible and make sure your child is aware that when the door is closed you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. During this time, you could give your child some tasks to complete on their own. It’s all about balance.
Make it fun but don’t let standards slip
In situations like this, there has to be an element of fun alongside patience and humour. We would all go mad otherwise! It’s hard to be patient when you are juggling childcare, schooling, work, housework and trying to find some time for yourself to relax and so understandably, patience may be thin on the ground, that’s why adequate breaks are required.
Your child needs to understand that they are not on holiday and they are expected to keep standards high and study but that it is less formal than being at school. This does not mean they can misbehave though! Make sure they understand that they should behave as they would in school. Setting aside an area where they will work will allow them to differentiate between school time and home time.
There’s no right or wrong way
You cannot be expected to know everything about everything! For most of us, it’s a long time since we were at school and during that time education and learning methods will have changed so, if you don’t understand what your child is working on, don’t stress. Contact their teacher, use the resources you have, connect with other parents through messaging or video and make sure you all help each other.
The most important point when homeschooling your child is to maintain some semblance of a routine and be flexible, but alongside that, enjoy spending this unexpected time with your children, make memories and keep them safe.