How to Engage kids in Home Learning

Home learning is giving parents a chance to bond and interact with their kids in ways that haven’t been possible before. However, it is also proving a challenge. As kids are away from the schools and routines with which they are so familiar, their concentration levels may be dwindling. 

It’s been 6 weeks since schools were officially shut and you may find that as a parent or guardian, you are becoming mentally exhausted. To help support you through this period, I’ve come up with some ideas which are below.

Firstly, recognise that a regimented routine which mirrors that of a school day, isn’t going to be possible. You may find you start your day later than usual with your kids. That’s perfectly normal. Some days will be more productive than other days, and you just have to allow nature to take its course sometimes. 

Ideally, your child’s school should be setting some work which your child can be getting on with. This is to prevent them from falling behind with the national curriculum. Have a look through the work which they should be getting on for the week before sitting down with your child, and set yourself your own personal goals to follow. You’ll have to set this time aside so you can also try and prepare any worksheets or resources which the kid(s) will need. It’s better to try and take some time out at the start of the week so that the rest of the week flows pretty smoothly. 

From this planning, you may find that you adjust any timetables provided by the school. So, although the school may have set your child a writing piece to do on Monday, you might be vaguely aware that they’ll be unable to finish it all in one day because of their shortened concentration span. So make a note that they should finish the said writing piece by Tuesday or Wednesday instead. That way you’re not being forced into rushing activities all into one day, and yet you have a manageable goal to work towards. If you fail to set deadlines, you may find yourself falling behind in teaching - that’s when it becomes too overwhelming. 

Another tip is that you might find that it’s better to have shortened school days Monday to Friday, but then do a little bit extra on the Saturday to catch up. That should work too. 

If your child’s school is expecting evidence of your child’s work by a certain deadline which your child has been unable to meet, simply write a comment back to the teacher saying that the work is yet to be completed. They should understand. 

Secondly, another difficulty which some parents or households may be finding is the use of computers/ laptops. If you have quite a few children needing to share a computer, you will have to start some sort of timetable so they all get a go on the computer. Or you may find you prioritise older kids using it. If you have children both in Primary and Secondary, you will have to talk to your older kids to see how they are being set work. Most secondary schools are posting video lessons online and this means the older folk may need a computer.

Also, don’t be afraid of using phones for lessons. If you’re having to ration computer time, most school resources are also accessible on a smartphone. 

Next, try to apply what you learn to everyday life. It can be difficult, but this can make your kids more engaged. Link story writing to dreams or experiences they might’ve had. Link division and multiplication to lego pieces or baking cookies. Associate Science with the real world; talk about the digestive system over lunch or the solar system at night as you look for stars.

The final tip for this blog is to see if anyone else can help you out. Perhaps older siblings can take shifts helping younger siblings. Or find out if your child can FaceTime or Zoom with another relative who can teach through video call - this will allow for you to have a break! It also could make lessons for your child a bit more exciting and varied as they get taught by different people. 

Overall, just keep doing what keeps you all marginally sane and remember to applaud yourself for all your efforts.

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