We understand how difficult it can be to help your child learn whilst juggling working from home, managing the home, feeding the kids and more. We have compiled some top tips that can help you and your family make this experience less stressful.
Create a simple workspace
Help your children get into school mode by creating a simple workspace. We understand that space might be an issue so even if it is in a bedroom, on the sofa or the dining table, ensure that the space is clear and ready for them to use during the school hours. Let your child make the space their own to help them feel like they are having a positive learning experience.
Have their necessary equipment ready
Ensure that they have their pens, paper and books ready for them to use for their online lessons. They may be having live online lessons or have tasks set from their school. Help them to feel organised by ensuring they have all the bits and pieces they need.
Create a routine that works for you and your family
Do not put too much pressure on yourself or your children by having a strict routine. It is important to have a positive routine that works for your family. You could ask the kids to create a visual timetable with plenty of breaks. It is ok for them to have a break and watch some TV if that helps them too. It is about balance and minimising frustrations.
Combining work with home learning
If you have an older child, you may find that they can get on with the task without too much of your help. If you are working and you have younger children, try to help them in bite size chunks. Perhaps spend 15 minutes getting them on task and using online learning resources. You can find a range of helpful links on our article on coping with the lockdown. You can get creative with home learning and perhaps bake a cake or do some cooking together, this can help them educationally especially if they are struggling with the traditional methods on offer.
It is ok not to play teacher
It is hard for any parent to try and replicate what teachers do at school. You might also be trying to work or keep up with the chores so try to keep it simple. Work within your resources and accept that you are doing your best. BBC Bitesize are running online lessons that can help your child with their learning.
"One thing I found hard is the guilt of not being able to help because I don't understand what they are doing. There was a bit of frustration in our household when I tried to help my daughter. We got to the same answer but we worked it out completely differently so I was no help when she needed to show her workings. I think my top tip is to acknowledge our own limitations and work with children to help them find the answers they need through peer groups or the internet. We both learnt something that way and I wasn't confusing her with the way I was schooled 30 years ago. This is a common problem with teens who are far cleverer than their parents! I know I have plenty of friends that have struggled in the same way" - Mum of a teenage daughter.
Use play equipment with younger children to help them learn
If you are working, it is ok to use toys like lego or puzzles for your children to play with. These toys are educational and can help your child boost their learning. Combining this with other activities can help them have a fun filled day. For ideas about play and learning, please click here.
Set some clear and simple boundaries
Work with your children to set simple boundaries that they understand and agree on. The ground rules that you set must work positively for you and your family so keep them simple and realistic. It might also work to keep bedtimes as you would if it were a normal school week as this may help them have a learning mindset.
Build in some outside time too
It can be really easy to be stuck on a screen all day, so it is essential for wellbeing that you build in some daily time to get some fresh air by going for a walk or perhaps a bit of time in the garden if you have one. You could even do something different like a nature trail and combine learning with an outdoor activity.
Get the kids active
It is great for wellbeing when children are getting active. There are lots of online fitness videos that you can use to help your children get their daily dose of exercise. Whether it is dance, yoga or an online PE lesson, there is lots to choose from and it will help them in many ways.
If your child has SEN or an EHCP
If your child has special educational needs and is struggling with home learning. Speak to the school and ask them for advice on supporting your child. It may help your child if you were able to build in the things they do enjoy doing with learning such as using online content, play equipment or getting active. This might help to minimise the frustrations or meltdowns. Special Needs Jungle has lots of advice on useful links and resources.
Connect with others parents
It is great to be able to lean on friends who are going through the same thing to share what works and what doesn’t. However, it is important to remember that every family is different and even if it sounds like one family has it sewn up, that might not actually be the case. If you are struggling with distanced learning, speak to the teachers and ask them for some advice and support.
Wellbeing is a priority
Being healthy emotionally is just as important as being healthy physically. We know that many children and teens struggle as they are not seeing their friends, missing their routine and their old life. Help your child by ensuring they connect with their friends regularly through video calls etc. Keep the lines of communication open with your children so you are having regular conversations with them about how they are feeling and how they are coping. Give them lots of positive praise as this will give them a boost too. This will hopefully stop them bottling up any negative feelings or emotions. We have lots of advice in our wellbeing section.
Be kind to yourself
Having the kids at home full time, trying to manage family life and/or working from home is a huge undertaking. Take some time out for yourself when the kids are in bed to treat yourself to some me time. Be kind to yourself and remember you are doing your very best. If you have a bad day, don’t stress too much as tomorrow is another day. Reach out to your support network and have some down time. Remember you are not a superhuman! You are a parent/carer doing your very best to meet everyone’s needs during this strange time.
If you are concerned about home learning or you are struggling because you do not have the necessary equipment, etc, please speak to your school in confidence as they may have access to a scheme whereby they can lend or gift you a computer or tablet to enable home learning.
Further support and advice
Call our helpline on 0808 800 2222
You can talk to us online via our live chat service which is open, Monday to Friday between 1.30pm and 9pm.
Visit our online forums to find out how other families are coping
This article was produced on January 2021