Here at Micklands, we have worked hard to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic causes as little disruption to the children’s learning as possible. In order to ensure that children are able to learn our curriculum from home, we have created a high-quality provision for remote learning.
The links below will provide you with more support and advice on helping your child at home.
Top tips for home learning:
Set up a designated place in the house where your child will do the majority of their learning. Ideally this would be in a different area to where they usually play or sleep – it will help to keep a clear distinction between learning time and free time.
Set up a timetable for learning. This will help you and your child know what is going to happen each day. Do try to stick to it – if your child sees you not following the timetable, they may be less inclined to follow it themselves. Most children prefer routine and order in their lives.
Have everything you need for the learning session ready before you begin. Your child may lose concentration if you or they are having to go and find a pencil sharpener or other equipment while they are trying to learn. Encourage your child to go to the toilet before you start and provide them with a drink, so that they don’t have to leave their learning station for that session.
Be sure that you understand as much as you can about what you are going to be teaching your child. This can be a little more of a challenge if you are working with an older child, but 30 minutes or so of Googling what you are going to help your child with will help you with your own confidence and also ensure that you have an understanding of what they are doing.
Just before you start your learning session, explain to your child what they are going to learn and what you are hoping they will achieve by the end of the session. For example, ‘Today we are going to be learning what a simile is. By the time we finish, you will be able to use a simile in a short piece of descriptive writing’. This will help you and your child stay focused on what it is you are aiming for.
During the learning session:
Provide your child with as much input as they need to understand the concept that they are trying to learn. Show them how to do it – this is known as modelling. Let them have a go – if they can do it independently, great – give them another task that is a little more challenging or that requires them to think about the same concept, but in a different context (for example, they can do 4 x 5 so see if they can take a recipe that serves 4 and change it so that it serves 20).
If they can’t do it, don’t panic. This is normal. If children could do everything first time without us teaching them then there would very little need for teachers! Go over the concept again and check which part they are not sure about. Focus on that. For example, if you are doing column addition and they are getting it wrong because of the way they are setting it out, rather than the actual calculations, practise that for a couple of minutes.
If they are really struggling, and particularly if they are getting frustrated, say to the child that you are going to do something different and then come back to it at a later time. This will ensure that your child doesn’t lose confidence or become frustrated (most likely, with you). This will also give you time to think about either changing the way you teach the idea or thinking a bit more about what knowledge they need to be able to continue.
Stay positive when working with your child. Avoid being critical or getting cross. Children learn best when they feel safe and able to make mistakes without consequences. It is only by making mistakes that we are able to help children learn. Praise your child for their efforts and their achievements, however small they may be. Remember, they will be finding this as challenging and unusual as you probably are!
After the learning session:
Encourage and praise your child, even if you feel they haven’t quite got to where you hoped they might. Remember that whatever you say to them know they will carry with them into the next time they spend with you, whenever that may be. If they think that they have failed or that you are cross with them, they are more likely to not want to engage in the next session for fear of this happening again. In fact, many children would rather refuse to start a learning session than risk being told off for failing to be able to complete the work during or after it.
Ask them to evaluate their own work. They can say if they feel like they have achieved what they were hoping to and how confident they are about it. If they say that they don’t really feel confident, then you will probably want to go over it with them again at some point. Self-evaluation is also an important skill for all learners to have – it’ll help them be able to make these kinds of decisions for themselves when they are older and no longer have regular adult support.
If you have time before you sit down with your child again, look at the work that your child has produced. Can you see anything that they are consistently getting wrong (e.g., Are they always misspelling ‘said’ or missing full stops)? Make a note of this somewhere to remind yourself to teach this to you child at some point soon. In school, we call this Assessment for Learning (AfL).
Give yourself a pat on the back and grab yourself a cup of tea! No matter how badly you feel the session went, just spending that time with your child, encouraging and supporting them, is really beneficial.
Things to remember:
At school the children are used to getting lots of exercise and breaks throughout the day. Through the Daily Mile we make sure that all children have had at least 15 minutes exercise before we attempt to sit them in a classroom. They then also get a 15-minute run-around mid-morning, an hour break at lunchtime and, often, another exercise break in the afternoon. Remember that working one-to-one with an adult is going to be much more intense for them and they will need even more breaks than usual. Don’t fall into the mistake of trying to keep working all day. You’ll find that regular breaks actually make the time they do spend learning far more productive.
It’s not all about reading, writing and maths. Remember to give time to the other subjects, particularly PE and PSHE. Some of our children find reading, writing and maths very challenging, but excel in music, art or PE. Encourage this and let them spend more time on the subjects they really enjoy. We try to do this in school, but in a 1-to-1 environment this is much easier for you to do.
Children are all very different, particularly when it comes to how long they can concentrate for. As a general rule, if a child is not particularly interested in the learning, they will be able to concentrate for as many minutes as they are years old (e.g., 5 minutes for a 5-year-old, 10 minutes for a 10-year-old). They will concentrate longer if they are excited by the learning, or if they are working with someone else.
I appreciate that many of the home learning links and tasks are computer-based, but please consider the fact that children do not usually sit in front of a computer all day at school. Be mindful of headaches, eyestrain and/or discomfort from overuse of a screen. Take regular breaks from the screen and ensure that your child is wearing their glasses if they need them.