Here are some things you can do to help your child learn from home.
1. Set up a learning space
Create an area in the house for your child to be able to focus on learning. There are no clear guidelines on what a learning area should look like. In fact schools have found creating learning areas or spaces to be a challenge. This is because every child has individual ways of learning, so what works for one may not work for another.
Home learning has an advantage in that it can cater to the individual child. As long as the student can focus and be safe, there are no limits to where the learning can take place. Feel free to allow children different places to learn, whether lying on the ground or sitting at a table – whatever works best for them.
But try to limit distractions. Turning the TV off and switching off app notifications will help.
2. Think about the technology you’ll need
It’s worth checking what programs you will need to access the work the school send. You may need Adobe Acrobat Reader (which is free) or any specific video players such as Adobe Flashplayer.
If they are not free, it’s worth checking if the school has a shared license or access package you can use. Companies are offering some online programs and services free during the COVID-19 period. Adobe, for instance, is offering school IT administrators free access to its Creative Cloud facilities until May 2020.
You may also need to download teleconferencing facilities such as Zoom or Skype that teachers may use to deliver lessons. These are free, but make sure you are downloading from the official developers, as some other sites may expose your computer to malware.
3. Create a structure
Make sure your children do not just see this as an extended holiday but as normal school, from home. It’s important to create a structure.
Mainstream schools have a timetabled structure throughout the week, so rather than disrupting your child’s routine, you might wish to follow your child’s school routine.
There is no specific time students should spend studying however, given different students of different ages will complete tasks and grasp concepts at different rates.
The advice is to aim for the time frames provided by the schools, and then be flexible depending on how your child is progressing.
Communication is key. Keep checking in with your children as to how they are progressing, offering help as they feel they need it.
This is how teachers work continually throughout the day with the 20 to 30 children in their classroom.
We all need to process new learning so allow children time to relax between learning periods. But there are no hard and fast rules over how many breaks they should have or how long these should be. Research shows giving children freedom to choose how they learn, and how long for, can increase their motivation.
4. Get to know what your child should know
As a supervising adult you will be more a teacher’s aide or facilitator rather than a replacement teacher. It’s likely schools will provide learning materials.
It can be useful to know why schools choose certain types of work for students to do.
5. Be around to help, but don’t get in the way
If your child is finding a particular task difficult, be available to make suggestions and answer questions, but try to let them do things themselves as much as possible.
If you don’t know the answer, work with your child to discover a solution. Let your child, where possible, self regulate – that is to take control of their own learning and not rely on you.
You may need to take your child back a step to reinforce a concept before they move onto a new one. An example might be in long division, where reinforcing decimal points, or even subtraction, needs to be revised first.
If all else fails…
If you are lost in what to do, then encourage your child to read. Model reading, get your children books and discuss them. Developing a love for reading in your children will help them in all learning areas, no matter how long they don’t physically go into school.