Home learning has proved 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 fun and fruitful as possible.
Well, school is closed again today. How can we keep younger children engaged with home learning and older children to take ownership of their school work in these uncertain times? Here in Hong Kong we are all struggling to figure out what the next step will be.
Naturally, kids are happy to have time off 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?
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. A majority of parents take on homework as if it is their problem when it in actuality it is only the student’s problem. Of course it’s all easier said than done for us parents.
Here are some strategies we can use to help our kids take ownership with their home learning:
- Explain how doing their work at home will have a positive effect on them for keeping up.
- State that ignoring school work just because they are not in school will have a negative effect.
- Give autonomy of balancing their schedule as long as they include time for their school work.
Using these strategies may help instil 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. Of course this doesn’t mean we expect kids to be working from 8am-3pm on their own, but setting aside a few hours a day should do it.
For younger children, explain to them how they will benefit from keeping up with the class work and help them make a schedule to fit in work as well as play and down time. Again, by allowing some autonomy over their own schedules, they are more likely to agree to fit in their work rather than not.
You can say,
“As you are aware, school is closed again today an it would really benefit you to keep up with your studies. Let’s make a plan for the day so we can fit in some school work and playdates too”.
You may also consider making a colourful age appropriate sign with the schedule that they have agreed to. This way you are giving the child’s ideas importance and they will be more likely to do the right thing, according to Gordon parenting’s Conflict Resolution with children.
For working parents, after you do this, ask your children to send you a picture of the sign with a checklist of the work they have accomplished while they are busy home learning. Try to make it fun.
Hong Kong based tutor, Willow Hewitt, previously offered advice on how students can make the most of a summer studying. Even though it’s not summer, school is out and some of this advice might be helpful now.
When school it out, it’s “a fantastic opportunity to stretch your child’s mind in directions it can’t go during the rest of the school year”. Willow suggests lots 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 maths results[i]”. 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 more time, consider putting kids in a fun class such as robotics, baking, psychology or drama, anything they may have expressed an interest in. There were a few Facebook posts on different HK groups offering classes today in fact.
Last but not least, this time away from school and focus on home learning is “an opportunity to develop self-motivation, decisiveness, flexibility and more. Soft skills are most easily taught by example, so take some time to model these for your kids”.