Due to the recent school closures, many students are now learning from home, engaging in an online teaching structure with their school, or studying independently with support from parents.
Perhaps the idea of your child learning at home is exciting to you – or maybe it fills you with dread as you wonder how you’re going to spend the time.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together these handy tips to help you on your child’s home learning journey – many of which are from home-schooling parents for whom home learning is the norm.
Even if your child is still attending structured classes online with their teacher, these tips will help parents to get creative and become key players in their child’s education.
1. Establish a routine
Whether your child is participating in virtual lessons through their school or you’ve implemented your own home-schooling structure, it’s really important to maintain a clear routine as much as possible so children feel as though they are in school.
You may wish to create a set timetable for the study of various subjects throughout the week (if not already provided by your child’s school) or decide on how the daily structure will be broken up, making time for work, play and physical activities.
Additionally you can help your child come up with a study schedule they are happy with, which includes time for homework, revision or whatever other studies they have on their plate.
Tim and Ruth Freed from Northamptonshire have three children aged 12, 11 and nine, and have been home-educating for seven years. They shared their own daily structure in an article on The Telegraph to offer advice to other parents who may be overseeing their child’s education.
“For us, a typical day involves formal work in the morning, such as maths, English, science etc, with free play in the afternoon, which might include reading, writing stories, drawing or role play, and some chores,” says Tim. Both children then join up with other home ed families for group activities such as drama and music.
Free Daily Schedule Template
Use our free daily schedule template to help structure your child’s day. The timetable makes time for lessons, break times and educational activities, as well as exercise and things to boost their mental-being.
You can fill out the template however you like, but we’ve included an example one to give you some inspiration. Remember these are just ideas and you can use the blocks to shape your child’s own ideal week or to suit particular circumstances. For example, if the weather is bad, outdoor play and exercise can be replaced with an indoor physical activity, or watching an educational TV show.
2. Allow children to choose what activities they enjoy
Whether you’re taking charge of your child’s home curriculum or you’re being led by their school, it’s good to involve some autonomy for the children so they get to feel in control of their own learning journey.
This might mean letting them decide their own activities during free-play time or after-school “clubs”. What do they enjoy doing? What interests them? Are there any subjects they’d like to learn more about, that you can now help them with?
With many children studying at home, now is a great time for them to enjoy a little extra freedom with their education.
3. Get busy in the kitchen
Kitchen science is a big hit for many families. There are lots of easy experiments that can be completed using cheap ingredients and standard equipment you’ll find in your cupboards. You can also extend these experiments to other subject areas, such as maths (when measuring out ingredients) and food technology.
Jenny Eaves, who home schools her two children aged eight and six and runs the home-schooling blog Monkey and Mouse, said: “The kids’ favourite activity is making volcanoes (think playdough, paper mache, sand or soil), and then adding bicarbonate of soda and vinegar for it to erupt.”
Another favourite experiment in the Freed household is to “use juice from red cabbage to create a Ph indicator,” says Tim. “It changes colour when you add acid (such as lemon juice or lemonade) or alkali (bicarbonate of soda dissolved in water).”
For more ideas, check out this list of kitchen science experiments for kids.
4. Travel the world…in your home
Make geography an immersive experience by travelling the world…in your home!
Through a range of activities and games, parents can stimulate their child’s imagination and help them absorb all of those facts about
“Baking and cooking are English, maths and potentially geography all in one delicious exercise,” says Jenny. “Plan an adventure (either imaginary or a possible future trip), and work out how to get there, where to visit, what local foods there are (choose one to cook) and learn some of the language. Work out a potential budget too, so both maths and English are used too.”
5. Use spot quizzes wherever possible
You can integrate learning into all aspects of daily life – test your children with a little spot quiz while they are putting on their shoes, making breakfast or helping tidy the kitchen.
Use your own general knowledge to ask questions about geography, science, nature, history etc, or use whatever they’ve been learning about with their class. Make it into a fun game by getting the kids to make their own ‘buzz’ sounds when they have an answer.
6. Use the TV to your advantage
Sitting your kids in front of the TV while you take a breather isn’t by any means a ‘cop-out’ – there are tons of great programmes for learning available.
Blue Planet (and other nature documentaries); Horrible Histories and the Magic Schoolbus are all educational and brilliantly entertaining for kids. Even cartoons like Dora the Explorer and Arthur have educational elements, teaching kids about real-life ways of the world. And of course you can find archive episodes of Sesame Street over on the Sesame Street YouTube channel.
7. Get outside if you can
You may not be able to socialise in groups, but taking your children for a short walk at the park, or even getting some fresh air in the garden, will work wonders for their concentration.
Tim suggests using it as another learning opportunity by going on a bug hunt.
“Print off a list of bugs with pictures, descriptions of their natural habitats, and see if the children can find them,” he says. (You could also do the same with plants.)
Even the most urban environments can provide the basis of a statistics project. “From a window or a street corner, tally up different things you see: different colours of cars; number of people looking at their phones; men vs women etc. Then draw graphs or pie charts to represent the statistics,” Tim suggests.