Home Learning: Again

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Naturally, kids might be happy to have time away from school, but this could be a crucial time for many, especially older children who may be working towards GCSE, A levels, and IB. They really need to focus and continue to study. What’s the best way forward for them? With school back online, how can we keep younger children engaged with home learning and get older children to take ownership of their school work in these uncertain times?

Home learning continues to be a challenge for students (and parents) all around the world, regardless of age. Here are some hard-earned tips on how to make home learning as fruitful as possible.

young girl home learning

Learning Environment

By now, most of us Hong Kongers have our learning/work stations all set-up but are there any ways to improve? Is the desk clear of clutter, is the area quiet enough to concentrate, are there distractions that can be minimised…like older or younger siblings too close for comfort? Do you have noise-cancelling headphones? Those help. A lot.

What about the computer or iPad set-up? With younger children it might be helpful to disable notifications and other distractions during the school day. Older children often use chat groups during lessons but a reminder might be in order to keep those to strictly necessary to the school topic.

Giving Some Autonomy

The parenting experts at Gordon Parenting would say to let children take ownership of their own studies. Statistics show that forcing or using power over children to get homework done doesn’t really work. They can simply stare at their books and pretend to study and we would never know if they weren’t.

Many parents take on school work and homework as if it is their own problem, when it in reality it is the student’s. Letting children be responsible for schoolwork is key. Of course it’s all easier said than done for us parents.

Tips for Taking Ownership

Here are some tips we can use to help kids take ownership on their home learning journey:

  • Explain how doing their work at home will have a positive effect on them for keeping up.
  • Learning new concepts, new words and new information is still ongoing with online learning. Understanding how to solve maths problems is still being taught now too. Playing catch up later will be really hard so it’s best to keep up now.
  • State that ignoring school work just because they are not in school will have a negative effect.
  • Even though school is online for now, learning has to continue. Teachers are doing their best to facilitate educational progress and have to keep moving forward. Keeping up during this time will help avoid the painful attempts later to catch up with peers.
  • Give autonomy of balancing their schedule.
  • Online learning can be rigorous for older kids as they go from lesson to lesson with little time for a break. Younger children may lose interest quickly. It’s a good idea to work on a schedule with your kids to ensure they can find a way to balance all the sitting, learning and screen time with some time for screen-free fun. If there’s a break in the online lessons, let kids have a say how they’d like to spend that time. Once the lessons are done for the day, get the kids to find time to relax, play and enjoy a break. Homework time might come after that break.

See also: How to study at home during coronavirus – by online students and tutors

Home Learning: Again

Making a Schedule

For younger children, help them make a schedule which accommodates school work as well as time to play and some down time too. Again, by allowing some autonomy over their own schedules, kids are more likely to agree to get it done.

You can say,

“As you are aware, school will be online for a while. Let’s work out a plan for each day which gives you enough time to get your school work done and have time for fun too.  It really benefits you to keep up with your studies so you don’t fall behind and get stressed trying to catch up”.

You may also consider making a colourful, age-appropriate sign with the schedule that your child has agreed to. If you work on it together, it can be an engaging way to give your child’s ideas importance. According to Gordon Parenting’s Conflict Resolution with children, this may direct children to be more likely to do the right thing.

Older children will have a schedule from school. Printing this and having it in a convenient place at the desk will help them stay on track. It’s not a bad idea to check in a couple times a day to see if it’s all going well.

For working parents, it can be a little tricky to oversee online learning efforts. Once you’ve made the schedule sign (or poster) with your child, perhaps ask for a photo of the sign with a checklist of the work they have accomplished thus far. Maybe this can be done midday and after the lessons are done.  Try to make it fun by replying with emojis and encouraging words.

Benefits of these Strategies

Using these strategies may help instill values for the future and teach kids how to be self-starters, be responsible for their own work, get organised, become good decision makers and how to be resilient beyond home learning. Rather than battling and trying to force them to do their work, let it come from them. This doesn’t mean we expect kids to be working from 8am-3pm on their own, but working out a way to also set aside a few hours for fun.

Expert Advice

Hong Kong based tutor, Willow Hewitt, has previously shared advice with Playtimes on how students can make the most of a summer break. Even though it’s not summer, some of this advice might be helpful now while a typical learning environment is not in place.

When school it out, or strictly online as it is now with limited extra-curricular activities, it’s “a fantastic opportunity to stretch your child’s mind in directions it may not go during the rest of the school year”. Willow suggests plenty of extra reading time because in her experience, “students who read the most are also the ones who do best in their exams…and frequent reading increases a child’s spelling, vocabulary and math’s results”.*

She also suggests that when school is not in session, it’s a great time to catch up on any subjects your child is having a challenge with. And no doubt, “they’ll feel the benefit when they return to school next on a strong footing”. If you have time, consider a fun class such as robotics, baking, psychology or drama, anything they may have expressed an interest in. Although these are also likely online for the time-being, it could be nice to have something a little different to focus on.

One additional thought during this period: home learning is “an opportunity to develop self-motivation, decisiveness, flexibility and other skills that may not present themselves otherwise. Soft skills are most easily taught by example, so take some time to model these for your kids”.

*Source – The Guardian 

Images from of Shutterstock

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