Q and A on Homeschooling during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Your homeschooling questions answered

This month we were asked by SchoolRun.com to help out with answering some key questions that parents have been asking. We hope some of these will help you! Don’t forget, if you have any other questions regarding homelearning, be sure to get in touch with us.

‘How do I help my child with homeschooling if I don’t understand the work they’re doing?’

  • Listen to your child and let them explain it to you. If you still don’t understand, ask your child’s school – they are there to support you with the home-learning. They might be able to point you in the right direction for some online help with the area or try and explain it themselves.
  • If you aren’t sure of the work your child is doing, then outsource! There are so many resources out there to help with different subject areas or to help you understand it before you work through it with your child. Websites such as Twinkl are invaluable as they have PowerPoints and worksheets for different year groups.

‘What should I do if the work set by school is too easy or difficult?’

  • The school may have given you some differentiated tasks (they might be in the guise of ‘Must…Should…Could’ or similar. If not, perhaps email to ask how to extend or support your child with the task.
  • If the work is too easy, try to extend your child yourself. For example, if your child is set some work on adding amounts of money and they are racing through it, then why not extend them to more difficult amounts, or where they have to work out the change from certain amounts. With English, extend their writing by asking them to try and include some ambitious vocabulary or ambitious punctuation.
  • If the work is too hard, then try and make it easier for them by changing the task slightly. It might be that they write a list of what plants need to grow rather than instructions on how to grow a plant.

‘What should I do if my child refuses to do their schoolwork?’

  • Start by showing your child the school’s website or email that has been sent outlining their work. Explain to them that it is not you that has set the work, but your child’s teacher! Take photos of their work and either send it to the school to show that the work is obligatory not optional or pretend to send it!
  • Set up a timetable with your child at home each morning and allow them to tick off once they have achieved that piece of work. Try to have a bit of a routine if you can. Children like to have a plan and know what is ahead.
  • If you’re happy to use rewards, this can help too. For example, earning time on the Ipad or earning television time.

‘Is it a problem if we can’t get through all the work set by school?’

  • NO! Schools will not be testing your children on the work set at home once they get back to school.
  • Try what teaching you can muster and use the rest of the time to do things with your children that they wouldn’t necessarily do at school: build a den, bake, do some gardening, plant seeds and watch them grow over the weeks, teach them how to use a hoover (!), watch YouTube videos about amazing spiders in Africa, get the Lego out and finally try and do a little bit of exercise each day and perhaps some meditation too; it does wonders for the soul.

‘I don’t know how to structure our day.’

  • Start the day with some exercise. Exercise helps to trigger endorphins and get the brain ready for learning! It should also help with improving concentration. After that, tackle maths and English, ideally before lunch so that the core subjects have been covered. Children are more attentive in the morning so it’s best to try and complete these tasks first thing. Make sure that there is a break between the two lessons; get them outside (if possible) for some fresh air or let your child relax for 20 minutes.
  • Twinkl have some great resources and timetables to follow for each year group if you haven’t been given a timetable.
  • The BBC have offered their biggest education push in history and now have huge amounts of resources online to help with homelearning. The link for primary school learning is here.

‘I’m not qualified to teach anything and don’t have any confidence.’

  • Luckily you don’t need to be a qualified teacher to homeschool your children! We have all been thrown into the role of teachers and for many of us, this is not an easy job. Sitting with your child and learning alongside them when it is a subject you are less confident about can become a fun journey for both of you.
  • Pride yourself on any progress, however small; it may not be every day but if you notice your child learn something, congratulate yourself for making that change.

‘I’m worried that my child won’t keep up with their peers.’

  • We must remember that the majority of parents are also trying to work from home at the same time as teaching their children the entire summer term curriculum. This is impossible! Don’t try and be a superhero, just get through each day at a time!
  • Try and remember that everyone is in the same boat.
  • When school does resume, teachers will be well-equipped to support all children. It is our job to fill in the gaps in children’s knowledge and we are very good at it! Remember, topics in the maths and English curriculum are repeated and consolidated year-upon-year so your child will have lots more opportunities to practise topics. In year 6, the curriculum has largely been covered by this point so it should hopefully just be a case of practising what your child knows already.

‘I’m finding homeschooling really stressful.’

  • Lots of parents are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with home-schooling their children, but please don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are parents first and foremost. This is an unprecedented worldwide emergency so keep perspective on what is important – having our family around us and doing our best to keep them entertained. Be kind to yourselves! We are all in the same boat! Don’t read into people posting on Instagram with their colour-coordinated timetables and pictures of their children sitting perfectly at the table understanding Pythagoras’ Theory. It’s not reality and it’s not helpful!

‘I’m worried that I’m going to burn out by trying to homeschool alongside working myself.’

  • Then take it easy! Keeping aware of your mental health is hugely important. If you don’t manage homeschooling one day, don’t worry.
  • Try to get other family members or friends involved with the teaching. Get grandparents online and ask them to teach a science, English or art lesson on different days throughout the week.

‘Arguments about home learning are getting me down.’

  • Arguments can happen very quickly between parents, between siblings and of course between parents and their children. It can be easy to lose your temper when your child does not do what you want them to do and, at the same time, you are trying to multi-task with work or general home-keeping chores. Try to be patient; if your day doesn’t go to plan, put it behind you and start again the next day with a fresh outlook. If necessary, identify the problem areas and see whether the daily routine can be changed in any way to help make life a little easier.

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The School Run