The coronavirus pandemic has caused schools to close for most children. And if your children are suddenly at home all day every day, you might find yourself wondering how to keep them entertained — and how to make sure they continue learning in lockdown.
By keeping children engaged in education at home, you’ll keep them entertained throughout the week and prevent them from falling behind the national curriculum.
We know that many parents don’t have time to become full-time teachers, but there are ways that every parent can help their children continue learning at home. Check out our complete guide to homeschooling during the coronavirus crisis, or read on for a checklist of things you can do to help your children learn at home.
Stick to a Home Learning Schedule
School gives children a daily routine, but now that most children are at home every day, there’s a risk of every day feeling like a Sunday. And while this might sound heavenly at first, children will quickly grow tired of the lack of structure to their daily lives. It can even have a negative impact on their mental health, making them feel stressed and insecure. Reintroduce them to the routine they’re used to by creating a home learning schedule.
You could work with your children to create a custom learning schedule and give them a say in how to structure their days, or you could download a home learning schedule created by teachers.
If you decide to create your own schedule, try to include a wide range of activities. It’s not practical to expect children to focus on academic lessons all day, so try to include some active and creative activities too.
With a schedule in place, children are more likely to engage in home learning, they may feel happier about the current situation, and you can progress through lessons in a logical order.
Plus, a pre-planned schedule will stop your children asking you the same question every morning — “What are we going to do today?”.
Set Realistic Expectations
One thing to note though, is that your home learning schedule doesn’t need to be 6-7 hours long. In school, children are usually taught in classes of 30 or more students. But at home, children have your undivided attention, and there aren’t so many distractions. So you might find children are able to complete lessons more quickly at home.
How long your children spend learning each day will also depend on how much free time you have to supervise educational activities. The chances are you have your own work to worry about, and you may only be able to dedicate a few hours per day to home learning.
So before you dive into an action-packed home learning schedule, think about how much time you’re realistically able to spend helping your children learn. The last thing you want to do is put too much pressure on yourself, or your children!
Create a Dedicated Learning Space
Children usually associate their home with playtime and relaxing activities, so getting them to concentrate on educational activities at home can be a challenge.
If you’re able to, create a dedicated learning space to boost your children’s concentration levels. This space should ideally be at a table or desk, where children can write, draw or use a laptop, and there should be minimal distractions. That means if you can, you should keep your learning zone separate from where your children usually relax or play.
A dedicated learning space can also help you introduce a routine to life in lockdown. Going to school is replaced with going to the learning zone. And with separate spaces for work and play, children have clear boundaries between education and free time.
Check School Websites
While your children may not be allowed to attend school, schools still play a vital role in children’s education. Many schools will have learning resources that you can download or access online, and some are even creating virtual lessons for children to attend. Some teachers may simply upload videos of themselves going through lessons, or they may use videoconferencing applications to conduct interactive lessons, present teaching slides, and talk to students.
Work Towards Learning Targets
In school, children are always working towards learning targets and objectives. By making sure children continue to do so at home, you’ll help them follow the national curriculum. Learning targets can help you structure lesson plans, find suitable learning resources, and make sure lessons are on-topic, and suitable for children’s current abilities.
Your child will have individual learning targets that will be set by their teacher. It’s worth getting in touch with your children’s teachers to ask what these are. This way you can give your children a more personalised learning experience.
Prepare a Variety of Resources
Children are likely to get through learning resources more quickly at home than they do at school. So to prevent your children running out of educational activities to complete, it’s a good idea to have a variety of resources at the ready.
Download any resources recommended by your children’s teachers, and explore online resources for different lessons. At Master the Curriculum, we have hundreds of primary maths resources available, including maths worksheets, vocab cards, teaching slides, and interactive maths videos. And many of our resources are available for free.
Don’t Forget to be Active
Staying indoors all day means children are going to have a lot of built up energy. And if they don’t burn off some of that energy, they’ll struggle to sit still and pay attention to lessons and educational activities. So as well as making sure children complete academic activities each day, it’s a good idea to allocate some time to being active.
There are YouTube channels that lead indoor PE sessions for children, such as PE With Joe. You can follow these sessions as a family, or your children can do them for fun in their spare time.
At the moment, in the UK, we’re also allowed out once per day for exercise. So you could go on a walk or bike ride with your children. Just make sure you stay safe — keep away from other people and don’t visit play parks.
Enjoy Your Children Being at Home!
The lockdown might be frustrating, but it won’t last forever, so make the most of your children being at home. Home learning shouldn’t be a cause of stress, it should be something that you and your children can enjoy and plan together. It’s a great chance to bond, and if you make education enjoyable for your children, they’re much more likely to engage in education and gain a deep understanding of lessons.
Master the Curriculum offers a range of primary learning resources that can help you continue your children’s education at home. Sign up now for a free membership.