Schooling young children from home can be both a lot of fun but also daunting for many of us. In these unprecedented times, many of us find ourselves working from home and trying to home school our young children.
One of the best pieces of advice we have seen was from the headmaster of a small primary school, he said: “This is not home schooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting on the whole world. Let's keep perspective. This is, at best, distance learning, whereby the children are currently reviewing and practicing skills and knowledge they have already covered in school. You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator. If you decide that your child isn't going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, then that is your choice. That is your right. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about. It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you're trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.”
A valuable piece of advice! If you are still determined to continue your child’s education, then we have put together some tips to, hopefully make things a little easier on you both:
Set up a “Classroom” at home
Setting up a classroom at home depends on a lot of factors such as space available, the number of children who will be learning, the types of task they will be doing and how you child works best. There is a great guide on theschoolrun.com but in essence you should take into account the following things:
1) Make it comfortable and light. You don’t want your students wriggling and fidgeting when they should be learning. Good lighting is important to help them see what they are doing
2) If you have space set up a dedicated desk for your child but if not, then look to covert your dining table for them.
3) Remove distractions from them, so no toys or TV to take their attention away from the work they are doing.
4) Use visuals on your child’s desk such as a timetable and a clock/timer so they can see how long to work on each individual task.
Set Rules and Rewards
Although your child is at home, they need to understand that they still need to carry on learning. Don’t be too draconian, though, you need to be prepared to make compromises with your child to keep the learning environment positive. Schedule a mix of learning activities and rewards. For example, after an English “lesson” they can play with whatever toy they like until the next lesson.
Set a Timetable
At school your child has a timetable so that they know what they are doing and when. To give them structure at home do the same for them and set up an easy to understand daily schedule. Using this you can help them understand when they need to work and when it is break time. Try to only schedule 20-minute sessions for learning with a break in between. Do not be too strict on sticking to the schedule and allow flexibility.
Make sure your child has regular breaks and has time to run around a bit to let off some steam.
Make it Fun
Children learn best when they are having fun. Be patient and understanding and don’t take it too seriously. Give your child interesting tasks to do. You can use real life as an aid. For example, you can have them spell out common household items or do some simple maths problems using food. For example, open up your egg container and tell your child you need 4 eggs for dinner, you have 8 in the container, ask your child to work out how many will be left once you take the 4 eggs out.
Your child might well test you on occasion, don’t get upset or angry as this will simply create a negative environment. Be patient and understanding and if you feel that you need to force things then it’s time for a break for you both. Don’t be worried about taking unscheduled breaks. Your little one will have different attention spans over the day so just be flexible around what is best for them and you.
Home schooling is not easy by any stretch but by having a routine, rules and lots of fun it can be an enjoyable way to spend quality time with your children.