- Set a daily routine. Plan the ‘learning day’ with start and finish times. Why not have a break and lunch set too? This will help to create structure for your children, as well as for you.
- Make space. If possible, make a space for the children to do their work. This might be in their room or at a table. This is the new learning space.
- Plan the ‘lesson’. Make an activity plan for a few days or week – it doesn’t have to be too complicated (here’s an example for primary and secondary school ages, as well as a blank plan for you). This way you know what you need to get ready, and the children know what to expect. Have a mixture of different activities (such as subject, style and time) to keep interest and motivation. Select activities that you know can be completed successfully within your living area with the materials and tools that you know you have. No point in setting tasks that will fail!
- Learning happens every day. There’s lots to learn, and everyday experiences are leaning opportunities too! This might be helping out tidying-up, peeling veg, making beds and helping a younger brother or sister. It could also mean using everyday food equipment and ‘store cupboard’ ingredients to think about living skills for the future.
- Supervision required? Depending on the age of your children, their ability, the activity and your living environment, you may need to give support and guidance – a helpful guiding hand!
- Be prepared! Easier said than done. Where you can, have things that they need ready – maybe kept in the new learning space? This might include pens, pencils, paper, old newspapers/magazines and IT access.
- Don’t have a printer? Don’t worry. There are lots of activities that don’t need you to print sheets of paper. Children can also copy what they see on the screen on paper – so the learning isn’t stopped.
- Take time to explain. Talk through the activity, so that the children understand what is expected of them.
- Keep an eye open. We all need a gentle nudge in the right direction, whether it's to keep us focused (there’s lots of distractions at home) or explain the task again, it helps to keep motivation. If a child doesn't know what to do, you’ll quickly find out!
- Give encouragement. It’s a new experience for all of you, so give plenty of praise and support! Where you can, help to explain what the task/activity means, giving them clues to be successful. Don’t be to tempted to do the work for them!
- Show and tell. When the activity is over, ask the children to tell (or show) you what they did. Review their work to see how well they did. While you probably won’t mark the work, it’s a useful stage of learning to get them to describe what they think they’ve done and learned.
- Reward success. Whatever success looks like, we all deserve a reward! For young children, this might be a certificate or star, or perhaps they are allowed to watch TV or play a computer game.
- Don’t beat yourself up! Well done! It’s not easy, but keep it going. There will be ups and downs. We can learn from both, changing approaches and activities that best suit. Remember to look after yourself!
- Remember to keep active! Concentrating and keeping focused for long periods of time can be difficult. Build in some physical activity where you can. This doesn’t always mean going outside, it could be as simple as star jumps, running on the spot or a few yoga poses!
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