Self-isolation has caused huge changes to family lives worldwide. The Coronavirus crisis continues with no known end in sight. A week into homeschooling and many parents are struggling to combine working while keeping their children motivated to learn at home.
Lee Wilcock, Principal of Wolsey Hall Oxford, the Homeschooling College comments: “The initial motivation and excitement of learning in a new way may well be wearing off now for many children and this will be adding to parents’ stress.
“Some schools are supporting families with providing work to do at home but it can be hard implementing and sticking to this new routine.”
Wolsey Hall Oxford has some tips to help parents through this period.
Create a schedule
The flexibility of homeschooling means your timetable can be created to suit the whole family, working around parental workload and virtual meetings. The key is having some structure to the day. Younger children may prefer to complete their schoolwork in the morning when their energy levels are higher while research has shown that teenagers are better studying later in the day.
If you can, try and find a dedicated space where your child can set up their computer and work. While you won’t have visitors to your home, they will need to be able to concentrate away from other family members and distractions.
The importance of breaks
While you won’t have activities outside the home to factor in, it’s important to schedule in breaks. Now more than ever we need to focus on our physical and mental health. While we are all constrained to our homes, there are still ways children can exercise. If you have a garden, even a 15-minute break outside is beneficial in restoring concentration levels. If you can’t get outdoors, there are online workouts specially designed for children such as Fitter Future. Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, is also delivering PE lessons on his YouTube channel each morning.
Tap into your child’s interests and dislikes. This is an ideal time to really engage them in topics they’d like to discover in greater depth. Your child’s teacher would prefer them to just be enjoying learning at this time, rather than forcing them through a specific subject that is causing a battle. Give regular encouragement and stay positive, there will be good and bad days. If your child is feeling overwhelmed by the changes, try breaking work into much smaller sections.
If your child is missing their friends, encourage them to video call each other (or arrange it for younger children). The opportunity to see how their classmates are getting on and to discuss what work they’ve been doing will give them a boost.
One Wolsey Hall parent, Jennifer, has some advice for new homeschoolers: “Facilitate your child’s learning. Don’t try and be a teacher or replicate school. It will end in tears. Be flexible, accept not every day will work, some days you just have to write off and start fresh the next day. Enjoy the time together and the chance to do it your way. Above all, make it fun.”
Another parent, Carolyn, says: “Don’t be unrealistic in your expectations. Firstly, go through all the work to be done. Help your child have an overview of everything then help your child set goals and create a plan in bite-size increments. Review the plan before starting work for the day. Short but regular working sessions with plenty of breaks and days off.”
You may find your child completes their work more quickly while schooling at home. There are plenty of online resources of activities that will help to fill the extra hours if needed. Wolsey Hall has some projects children may like to try at home: https://wolseyhalloxford.org.