Schools across the UK are closed as the government continues to tackle the coronavirus crisis, leaving parents and guardians, all of a sudden, in charge of their children’s education.
Many will put themselves under pressure to maintain a curriculum-level education at home, when in reality this probably isn’t achievable. Parents are not qualified teachers, after all, and there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about how best to educate children.
To cut through the noise, we spoke to Meg Morton from home education specialists Little Arthur Independent School, and Betsy Kharas from online platform Tutor House, for a few simple tips and starters on how to homeschool.
1. Stick to a routine
Betsy Kharas says keeping to a routine will prove invaluable over the next few weeks of uncertainty, including breaks where parents can plan fun things to do with their children.
“Try and keep the structure of your days in-line with your children’s school timetable as much as possible,” she says. “Even if you’re not using the time explicitly for academic studies”.
2. Let children learn at their own pace
According to Meg Morton, it’s best if children have some sort of control over their timetable.
“They luxury of homeschooling,” she says, “is that children who get a concept quickly aren’t held back, and those who need more time have a chance to fully understand their work”.
3. Make your child the teacher
Letting children teach stops the learning process from becoming boring and helps keep them interested in studies.
“One of the best ways to do this is to find the national curriculum online and go to a specific topic that your children need to study,” says Kharas.
“Then compile the resources that they need and ask them to go away for an hour and write notes and draw pictures related to the topic. Once they have done this, ask them to come back and present the information to you.”
The benefits of this are twofold she says – not only will they get a sense of achievement, but will also help them retain information without learning in a ‘traditional’ manner.
4. Show an interest in your child’s work
“Take an interest in what your child is studying,” advises Morton. If parents engage with topics and tasks this will inspire children to work harder.
5. Keep active
“Making sure that both you and your kids spend some time exercising is a great way to keep you feeling motivated and productive,” says Kharas.
Don’t worry if you don’t have access to an outside space – there are lots of exercises online which you can do indoors to get those endorphins pumping.
6. Have an outside person to mark your child’s work
Ask someone who isn’t a family member look over your child’s work.
“As a school we offer structured courses with regular assignments which are marked by the student’s tutor,” says Morton. “Which encourages students to do their best work and gives an unbiased and experienced guide to progress.”
7. Make the most of online courses
Platforms like Tutor House are running courses to ensure parents have access to teaching and learning resources, run by experienced teachers and aimed at different levels of schooling.
8. Limit screen time
It’s a good idea to set ground rules early on for children about how much time they’re allowed in front of a screen, no matter how hard it may seem.
“Try and avoid letting your kids spend all day long on their phones or laptops, especially if they are looking at social media, as this can fuel feelings of isolation and anxiety,” says Kharas.
How to create a timetable
The experts recommend that the best way of creating an at-home timetable is to base it, as much as you can, on your children’s school timetable.
It is recommended that parents sit with their children and talk through with them what they would normally do on a school day, and build the timetable around that.
“Using this as a base is a great way to provide structure without it feeling drastically different from what they’re used to,” says Kharas.
Parents should try to schedule every part of the day into the timetable, such as reading time from 8am-9am, project from 9-10am, breaktime from 10am-10.30am along with slots for activities such as games or baking.
Betsy adds: “This will help your kids feel like they’re taking advantage of this time off, while still ensuring they are still progressing academically.”
And to prevent parents heading off course, it’s a good idea to write the timetable down and stick it to a wall or the fridge to help keep on track.