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21 January 2021
By Kelly Hannaghan

Tips for Parents on Overcoming the Challenges of Home Learning

We now find ourselves in 2021 and in yet another lockdown period. Families across the UK are facing the challenges of maintaining their child's education, holding down jobs and keeping the momentum of optimism and hope alive. Families are trying their best to stay safe and well, whilst avoiding cabin fever from setting in. Here are some of my top tips and resources to overcome the many hurdles that parents are facing in these unprecedented times.

Bridging the Gap

Home learning is about bridging the gap of opportunities. Many schools across the country are tirelessly working to provide an comprehensive offering for home-school learning, however this does not come without its challenges. One being that there is nothing more empowering than face to face teaching and the magical moments of social interactions from peer to peer. This partnership of work between parents and teachers has never been more important. With clear communication strategies and a shared responsibility ethos, the hope is that we will all get through this and the future generation will take some positive experiences and become more resilient from these times.

"Children may not remember what they did in these times, but they will certainly remember how they felt".

Doing With, Not Doing To

A starting spot for home-school learning should begin with a heart in mind approach, here are some of my top tips:

  • Make time to set up a plan for learning with your child, do with them, rather than do to them. This offers a sense of ownership, which in turn will promote intrinsic reward.
  • Start each day with looking at the tasks ahead and try to break your day up into manageable chunks of time with each child.
  • Try not to worry about your own skills, learn with your child, there is nothing better than for a child to see their parent learning alongside them.
  • Be flexible with timetables by adding regular brain breaks and free choice times in to break up the day, the afternoons could be filled with creative and fun free play time. Here is a creative challenge for your child: Kent Children's University
  • Connect with nature as much as possible, being outside is scientifically proven to improve wellbeing and mental health, here are some outdoor lockdown activities.
  • Focus on three key resources to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Set up an inviting learning space, use something to signify that it's your child's special learning space (you could purchase a plant for your child to nurture, this promotes responsibility).

Maintaining the Balance

Know that your child may experience a mixture of emotions throughout these times, they have lost the sense of freedom and will miss their friends. Try using creative play and arts to help them process any uncomfortable feelings. There are some great ideas here: Facebook page: Family Lockdown Activities and Tips for Parents.

It may be that you are working from home yourself, try not to be hard on yourself and remember that you are not a qualified teacher, it takes years to learn these skills. Try to remain positive and reflect on what you have learnt about your child's learning.

To manage your time effectively build in a timetable with your child that promotes built in reward time (free time) this will offer you valuable time to get on with your own tasks. The afternoon could be more about creative time and free time.

Make Use of the Resources Available to You

If you have learning needs, please don't struggle alone, contact your child's school SENCo to inform them of this, they may be able to help you by signposting you to helpful resources.

Your child may struggle to stay focused on their learning time, it's ok to stop and pause and come back to the learning, you may want to use a timer for this.

Children love displays, try collating a display with your child either on a chalk wall or use a cork noticeboard where they can pin their timetable and celebrations of work they are proud of. Positive quotes and affirmations are particularly helpful and raise self esteem.

Supporting Your Child's Emotions

Give your child time to absorb and process all the challenges in their life and think about minimising levels of information and instruction that you give your child at any one time, taking small steps is key and don't forget to celebrate the small wins.

Go-to Resources to Support Home Learning

If you have found this blog post interest, why not head over to the Mental Health and Wellbeing area of the website to find out how we have been supporting schools and settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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