Juggling home-schooling with our day-to-day lives has been extremely challenging for parents everywhere. Read our top tips on how to make learning at home that little bit easier…
First things first – give yourself a break and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You’re not Mary Poppins. Do what you can, when you can. You’re probably juggling all sorts of things alongside home-schooling so it’s important to remind yourself that you simply cannot do it all. Secondly, remember that no-one expects you to be able to do the job of your child’s teacher. After all, it is impossible to match the expertise of a teaching professional overnight. Most schools also understand that you might not be able to complete every single task they set. If you’re struggling to meet the workload, talk to your child’s teacher about your concerns. The vast majority of teachers have been amazingly understanding and a great support throughout these lockdowns, especially as many of them are juggling the exact same responsibilities as the rest of us.
Breathe. Lower your expectations and let us help you to make home-schooling as painless and stress-free as possible. Ready? Let’s go!
- Aim to start work at the same time every day. It doesn’t have to be bang on 9am –
do what works for you and your family. Having some kind of routine will give your day structure and means your child knows what to expect each day.
- Make a plan and make it achievable. You can make a daily or weekly ‘to-do’ list together or create a simple timetable (there are lots of free timetable templates available to download online). Try not to set too many goals and avoid cramming in as much as possible. You and your child will feel a much greater sense of achievement if you can complete a handful of tasks, rather than ticking off just a few things from a huge list. Try to involve your child as much as possible and ask them if there’s something they particularly want to do. You might not be able to accommodate everything they suggest, but you can probably incorporate a few of their requests. Your child will be more likely to engage with learning if they have played a part in planning the content.
- Create a designated workspace. Many of us don’t have a home office or a spare room and are working from a shared desk or the kitchen table. Wherever your workspace is, make sure it’s tidy and free from clutter to reduce distractions.
Keep background noise to a minimum, where possible, and leave the workspace when you have breaks. For younger kids, you can create a cosy den from sheets in the living room for quiet reading time or clear a space in the living room for PE with Joe. It can be helpful to have different ‘areas’ around the house for different activities and offers a much-needed change of scene for both you and your child when schoolwork gets too much.
- Take regular breaks. Your child needs it and so do you. It’s important to have time away from screens and schoolbooks to refresh and reinvigorate the mind. Take time to grab a snack, read a book or, better still, go outdoors for fresh air and to blow away the cobwebs. If you’re stuck indoors, you can pop on a family-friendly YouTube exercise video to try together.
- Eat well to learn well. Start every day right by making time for breakfast and fuel your child’s brain and body throughout the day with snacks and plenty of drinks. Try to keep brain-boosting foods like fruit, nuts and berries to hand, plus the occasional sweet treats for rewards.
- Speaking of rewards, give your child plenty of them! You can draw or print certificates for younger kids, give extended breaks as a reward for their hard work, or take some time out and read together. A reward can be as simple as a hug or an encouraging word. Remember that this home-schooling lark is a difficult adjustment for them too and a far-cry from what they’re used to.
- Be flexible. If you’re having one of those days when nothing seems to be going right or your child is refusing to do a certain task, change direction. Try a different activity or take a break from it altogether. It won’t hurt to ignore maths on occasion and allow your child to do art instead. It’s important to recognise that not everything will go to plan, no matter how hard you try, so choose your battles wisely and try again tomorrow.
- Get creative! Your child can learn a lot by doing regular household activities like helping you with lunch or baking a cake. For older children, you can involve them in things like creating a shopping list or showing them how to cook a meal. Real-life activities are a great way to instil life skills.
- Keep calm. You and your child will inevitably clash at some point during home-schooling. When tensions are running high, or you or your child are feeling overwhelmed, take a break and leave the room. Do something entirely different to ease the anxiety and diffuse the situation.
- Ask for help. If you don’t understand your child’s assignment or can’t figure out how to work Zoom, don’t panic. Teachers are there to help us through these difficult times and are available to help where they can. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to reach out and ask for help when you need it – you can rest assured that there are thousands of parents across the country experiencing the exact same thing.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Try not to beat yourself up or compare yourself to others. If you only get one task done today, then so be it. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself some well-deserved credit. After all, this isn’t a forever situation and you’re doing your absolute best in the meantime. That’s what matters most.
For further info: Help for young people: Why Is Studying So Difficult?