With school closures occurring across many countries due to the Coronavirus, parents are concerned with both what their children will learn and how they can get them to do this.
Since Blackhen launched over ten years ago the majority of our students have completed their work with us at home. Along the way we have learnt how both parents and students can get the best from home study.
Here are our 7 key points:
This is very important. Children (and adults) are used to structure and most benefit from a daily routine. With the usual school day now on hold every effort should be made to replicate this. Many home-schoolers favour a 3-hour morning slot followed by a couple of hours of more creative/ independent learning in the afternoon. This could typically be reading, independent research for a project or area of interest or some form of artistic/ creative activity. It doesn’t have to be 3 continuous hours, but broken down into short bursts.
2. Designated work area
Children work best with routine and stability. This works exactly the same with where they work. As a teacher the seating plan in a classroom is very important. Every student when they enter a room knows where they should sit (even if they occasionally ‘forget’ this). This should be the same at home. Having a fixed workspace is really important if at all possible. It lets the child know that this is where they work and it allows work, books, pens or their computer to have a place to ‘live’. If this isn’t possible, then a communal space should be allocated for a set period of time each weekday. The space should preferably be in a quiet area, way from as many distractions as possible.
As the old saying goes ‘Variety is the spice of life’. Routine is important but so is engaging the child. A mixture of both subjects and activities will help motivate the child and help keep the parent’s ability to manage learning in a new environment. With online materials and educational tools readily available online this has transformed the home study environment. In addition, interactive activities with siblings and parents can greatly help pass the hours in a productive and educational way. Quizzes, literacy and numeracy games, collaborative projects e.g. building model are all some of the enjoyable ways that your child can learn.
Children like feedback. It is a natural desire to know how you did on a particular topic or area of study. Great ways to do this quickly and to pass back for another round of study are: spelling tests, quick quizzes (linked to what they’ve been learning or general knowledge or a mix of the two), focused work (where a child must produce a piece of work with particular targets).
5. Multiple home-learners
6. Incentives and Rewards
This is a great way to encourage learning. These can range form the humble gold stars, fun wacky animal sticker to the more mature treat e.g. extra time online playing a game or ‘token’ towards a larger reward further down the line. Many schools will reward hard workers with trips at the end of the school year (this may have to be several months down the line at the present moment) to books from Amazon.
7. Breaks and down-time
Schools have breaks for a simple reason. Children need to burn off energy, chat to their friends and also to get fresh air. This shouldn’t be ignored at home. Physical exercise and fresh air are important to everyone but particularly a growing child with huge stores of energy. Find a productive outlet for this and the home environment will be much calmer and happier for it.
We are currently preparing a ‘Home Study Guide’ where we will share ideas, advice and useful links for home study. The guide will be available for everyone to download from the website.