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☰ Survival Tips for Parents to Support Learning at Home

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Survival Tips for Parents to Support Learning at Home

Posted on: 27 Mar 2020 by Weston Green School

Survival Tips for Parents to Support Learning at Home

Eryn Caddick (Head of Learning Support and Mother of a 4 year old and 6 year old)

1) Introduce one thing at a time. It can be tempting to try to tackle all of the issues that you perceive to be ‘weaknesses’ in your child’s work all at once because you have unprecedented access to what they are doing. Learning is a cumulative process that takes place over time.

2) You don’t need to write or type for every activity in order to learn! Language development is critical and so is the child’s motivation. If you are confronted with resistance, consider games and multisensory activities that allow your child to revisit concepts in a fun way. Remember that they learn a vast amount through talking to you. 

3) Ask yourself, ‘what have we achieved today’, (not haven’t). Try to notice what has gone well. If the maths lesson was a disaster and they refused to try and you had a row with your husband because you had different ideas about how to explain it etc….remember that you might have had a good experience with spelling earlier. Try to keep a mental list of what they did do, eg. got dressed, logged on to google classroom, made a good attempt at the writing activity etc. There will be ups and downs for all of us. 

4) Manipulate the child into thinking they chose the activity themselves. Most children like to make choices and feel that they have some control over what they are doing. Put some resources out on the table (eg. exciting letter writing paper, a photo of granny, exciting stickers) and let them find them. (“Wow - look at that beautiful paper -  I wonder what we could do with it - have you got any ideas?”etc)

5) Base as many activities in their interests if you can. I tried to get my son to fill in a worksheet related to the ‘oi’ sound and he had a complete meltdown and threw toys all over his room and screamed at me. The next day, I ‘hid’ words containing the ‘oi’ sound in his favourite maze book on little bits of post-it and asked him to find the word in the maze. He found all of them and wrote them in his book and felt really proud of himself. 

6) Be flexible! If you have hit a wall with behaviour or motivation, stop, reflect and try again tomorrow with a different strategy. There is a lot of focus in initial teacher training about being a ‘reflective practitioner’. 

7) Praise effort for things that seem obvious to adults. Children need a lot of praise and it’s easy to forget to do it when you try to help with a learning activity that they can’t do or don’t want to do. Pull yourself back into a positive mindset if you are feeling like you are about to lose it by noticing and celebrating the positive (where you can find it). eg. Thank you so much for sitting on your chair and looking at my eyes when I started talking ..etc.

8) Children respond differently in formal settings. The relationship between parent/child and teacher/child is completely different and they will behave differently in different contexts. 

9) Visual reminders are really helpful for all children. Draw a little picture of all of the activities/lessons that will happen in a day and blu-tack it to one side of a surface that they can reach and see. Each time you complete an activity, let the child move it across to show that it has finished. Children can feel very ‘trapped’ in a 1:1 setting and they are used to following a predictable routine in school. It’s fine for the routine to be different at home, but set it up at the start of the day together so they know what is coming up and when they can ‘escape’! For younger children, it is particularly important for them to know when the next opportunity will be to eat and run around outside. 

10) Respect their age-appropriate attention spans! This varies according to the child and the age. It is completely normal for a child in reception to attend to a task for approximately 10 minutes (if you’re lucky) and then get up and wander around. It can be exhausting thinking up enough activities to sustain them throughout the morning. Consider putting some toys/puzzles/construction on rotation (and keep some back to create variety each day) and put them out ready for ‘overflow’ when the child decides they are ready to change activity again. 

11) Remember that children need to move around more than adults. Can you incorporate movement into the learning activity? I fully appreciate that this is not always compatible with attempting to work from home and teach at the same time but it will keep them happy and engaged and so give it a go where you can. Eg. Ask a times tables question to the child and encourage them to give the answer in the form of a physical activity. Eg. 2X4 = run around the car 8 times.

12) Little and Often. This is referred to as the ‘principle of distributed practice’. There are lots of ways to incorporate learning into the day at home and they don’t always need to be delivered via a formal lesson. The days can feel very long at the moment. Good learning takes place when concepts are re-visited frequently in small doses. 

13) Try not to take it personally if your child doesn’t engage with an activity in the way that you hoped they would. You are still a capable, successful, professional person who ‘succeeds’ in other areas in your life. Try not to measure your ‘success’ as a parent teacher by whether or not your child completes their writing activity this morning. Let’s try to protect our own self esteem too - we are all bending over backwards to make our children feel good about themselves. These are exceptional circumstances for parents and we are doing our best.

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