In a world where ‘remote’ is becoming the prefix to life, children across the UK and beyond have had to adapt to learning from home.
Remote learning has certainly brought its challenges for many, highlighting the UK’s digital divide and the effects that digital poverty has on education and attainment.
A report by The Sutton Trust found that “For the children who have accessed provision many will have continued to thrive during this period. However, for vulnerable children, those with particular needs, and those whose parents have been struggling with home learning due to work or challenging home lives, this has been an extremely difficult time and it is reported that the impact on their social and emotional development and mental health at this vital time in their lives has been profound.”
Even for those who have been fortunate enough to access distance learning, life has changed significantly and being isolated from friends and family has undoubtedly contributed to a decline in mental health, nationally.
What are the effects of lockdown and home learning?
Part of education is social and emotional learning. This learning style helps children develop empathy, communication skills and overall social skills that help them in the future. It's difficult to implement social and emotional learning into a virtual classroom where children are unable to interact directly with each other or with their teachers.
Video classes do help with this so long as the children can see or hear each other, but those with poor internet or no devices don't have access to it. Children who are going through this situation while isolated are missing out on experiencing these important social interactions.
Furthermore, academic education is also hurt by this, even for children who have access to the internet. Teachers aren't always equipped for online learning. It's not what they were taught, and many have had to come up with online lesson plans "on the fly." While they can be fantastic educators, teaching online is not something they have mastered and therefore there may be some inconsistency in teaching methods.
Parents are expected to pick up the slack, but most parents aren't qualified to teach their children, especially if these children are older.
This puts children who are going through school in the lockdown period at a disadvantage, which will have an impact on their academic life and beyond.
How you can support your child’s online learning
So, how do you help your children thrive in an environment that isn't conducive to learning?
Here are our top 10 tips for supporting online learning from home:
1. Create a timetable that suits you
Many live lessons will be scheduled at set times, but outside of these, there are no rules about when your child does the ‘homework’ aspect of their home learning.
Make it work around your schedule - if you’re working from home, set aside a couple of hours in the evening to help your child complete their work.
Creating consistency will be beneficial, but we know it's not always possible for parents who work varying hours or have multiple school-aged children under one roof. Where you can, set clear rules for when your child should be working at home and when they are allowed to ‘play’.
This will give them some form of routine - it’s all too easy to leave them sitting in front of the TV all day, so block out a couple of hours in the morning and the same again in the afternoon or evening, if you can, for when your child can expect dedicated learning time.
2. Balance online time with offline time
You don’t need to be online all day to get a good education. Of course, there are some compulsory online sessions to attend for most schools, but outside of these, there is a lot to be learnt through reading, exploring and playing.
There's lots to be learned from novels, puzzle books, board games, cooking, cleaning, gardening, shopping, DIY, music, the list goes on!
3. Keep in contact with teachers
Teachers will be more than happy to discuss your child’s needs and progress. In all honesty, they’re probably missing the human interaction too and will want to support your child just as much as you.
Drop your child’s teacher an email or request a phone call to share your concerns and take advantage of their knowledge and experience.
4. Get outdoors
As the weather (hopefully) starts to pick up, try to get outside a little more. Take learning into the garden or go for local walks - you could explore wildlife to research when you get home or take photographs to refine your photography skills.
Being outside is good for physical health, too. Getting up your step count will keep you active and feeling fitter and healthier.
5. Speak to other parents
Buddy up with parents to share ideas and struggles. The moral support and schoolwork discussion will provide you with a wealth of resources. Group chats of Facebook pages can be a great source of information, provide learning ideas for kids and even sharing resources.
Bear in mind, though, that not everything other parents are doing will be right for you. Just because your neighbour has created a regimented 7-hour learning day on a colour-coded timetable, it doesn’t mean this will be right for you and your child.
Home learning activities and ideas
With lockdown 3.0 almost out of the door, we’re once again in for an overhaul of our daily lives as we begin to reintegrate our children into education.
But, let’s be honest, who knows if we’ll have a 4th lockdown later down the line?
To get you through what should hopefully be the last few weeks of home learning, we’ve put together a bank of resources for you to use with your child:
- Learning Hive’s SATs papers are a great way to support primary school children - they’re exactly what you can expect them to sit in their KS2 tests so they’re a perfect way to prepare.
- Twinkl has a wealth of free resources for primary school children, with specific parent packs aimed at supporting home learning.
- UR Brainy’s free homework-style worksheets and topic tests can be a great addition to lessons to help cement learning.
- Our GCSE past papers and mark schemes are a fantastic way for secondary school children to practise their exam skills and judge their own work. We’ve got access to papers for English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics for as far back as 5 years.
- TES is a superb platform, especially for teaching resources. There are plenty of free, downloadable sheets and even whole schemes of work.
We understand that home learning is easier said than done. Many parents have busy working schedules, with some being away from home for long shifts and unable to support their child through online learning.
If that’s you, why not take advantage of our free online tuition service? Simply complete our questionnaire to check whether you’re eligible for full funding or our subsidised rate and partner your child with one of our expert tutors who will deliver one-to-one or small group support via Zoom.