A strange but exciting time is upon us. One of possibilities and growth. At times, it will be frustrating but at others – so rewarding. Home schooling is here!
The amount of learning taking place in each home will be vastly different throughout the country. It could depend upon how much schools are setting, how much emphasis parents place on learning or how much time they have to do it and of course – how compliant children are to doing it!
Some schools are setting lots of daily work linked to the national curriculum whilst others have a more relaxed approach and are making suggestions to parents of websites they can use and fun activities they can complete.
Many parents may feel anxious about home schooling at the moment. How much learning should they be doing? What should they be learning? How do I get them to do any learning? How do I find time to help them learn when I am busy working?
As a parent myself, I definitely see this time as a gift – to share time as a family, to play together and connect. However, I also recognise that children need to keep learning or else they will be bored, passive and will lack any motivation in the future. A child that has the self-discipline to learn at home will be a much better learner when they get back to school.
Adjusting to the New situation
Regardless of the quantity of learning set or the fun activities being suggested, it must be difficult for children to adjust. They have gone from learning in a very structured environment where they comply with the rules and follow their peers, to learning in their home space – the place where they normally relax.
Also, as a parent AND a teacher I know that the parent/child relationship is very different from the teacher/child one too. But now you are expected to be both for a while!
We may be in this situation for many months – a long time for children to cope with isolation and also with not keeping those growing brains active!
So how can we help our children to learn and thrive during this time?
The Learning Area
First, children need an area to learn in (for sit down tasks anyway!) You could make this a special area where they keep their pens, pencils, any posters which help them and any certificates they have received from school – to remind them of their past achievements.
Make a sign
Children could name their ‘home school’ and make a sign/poster to label it.
If they get to know our learning characters they could draw them on the poster and label with Cape Ability’s eight ideal learning attributes: resilience, self-belief and enthusiasm, focus, creativity, improvement, co-operation, curiosity and willingness to make mistakes.
At school children have clear boundaries. They know that they need to work hard in ‘lesson time’ so they can play at ‘play time.’ Keep this structure.
Make it clear to children that during learning time they need to get their learning done so that they earn their fun play time.
This needs to be very general and flexible. I tried one that was too structured with my children and we all had a meltdown! However, a clear time for learning needs to be set each day so children expect it and get used to it. Most children love routines!
It is up to you how much time is spent learning in this more formal way – it depends on the age of your child. It is crucial to recognise that there are so many opportunities to learn through play and in the outside environment too. We do not want to deny them that. It’s Spring – a time to marvel at the flowers, the birds and the frog spawn!
Work out a balance between play and learning that ensures your child is challenged but also free to explore their own interests.
Motivating children to learn
1. Give children choices – children respond much better when they can choose how to do something, what to write with or which task to start with.
2. Use positive language when you speak about tasks to complete – if you don’t appear enthusiastic – they won’t be enthusiastic!
3. Most importantly of all, during this close time as your child’s parent AND teacher, you can help them to develop a growth mindset – the greatest gift you could give them. It is the PERFECT time to help because changing mindset is a gradual process which requires lots of reinforcement from you and positive praise each day.
The Cape Ability Approach
This is how our approach can really help. Find out how you can help your child develop into a motivated, resilient learner with self-belief and focus. Using our stories with your child, helps them to identify with and want to be like the key learning character. You can then use the character’s mantra every time they learn, to help them regain focus or keep trying when things are tricky. Our approach helps your child see how capable they are!
Happy home learning!