Simply Learning Tuition’s guide to educating your child at home during Coronavirus

Education at home (or ‘home schooling’) is a prospect being faced by more parents than ever before. Our experience in creating successful home schooling programmes for children from age four into adulthood, enables us to share tried and tested strategies for improving your child’s education at home.

1) Tailor everything to your child’s needs

It may be tempting to insist that your household runs on the same routine each day, however we suggest that you create a routine that is tailored specifically to your child’s needs and age. Each of the home schooling students we work with have a completely different timetable to suit their needs. Parents are often surprised to realise that with home schooling, your child can learn when and how works best for them. Study periods, or lesson time, can take place around a commitment to a child’s talent or academic interests, as well as all-important physical activity. Studies show (Kelley et al (2014)) that tailored start times can have a big impact on attainment.

  • Kelley suggests that, “student start times should be 8:30am or later at age 10; 10am or later at 16; and 11am or later at 18, and that synchronising education start times would enable immediate advances in attainment.”
  • The Sleep Project suggests that by changing the school start time from 9am to 10am, teenagers will, “simply be more awake, alert and ready to learn.”
  • Hampton Court School Sixth form lessons start at 1.30pm and finish at 7pm. In their words, ‘ the later start time and condensed day affords students more independence over how they structure their day, and makes the best use of the 168 hours each week’.

2) Create a routine and stick to it

Although it may be new and different to a, ‘typical’ school day, once you have established a routine that works, stick to it. We have found that flexibility to try what works, and what doesn’t, within the first week or two of home schooling is helpful. But once tried and tested, it is imperative that the routine is maintained. The most successful home schooling schedules include 7 days of the week, and additional non-academic activities in hour-long time slots throughout the day.

3) Get practical

  • Work together to create a dedicated area for you and your child to work in. These could be together or separately, depending on the space available to you, the age of your child and the routine(s) you have decided upon.
  • Have open conversations with your child about both the challenges and opportunities created by the current necessity for home schooling. You can discuss the possible educational scenarios that you are preparing for, whether this is to do with regular school work or entrance or national examinations. To reduce anxiety, reassure them that they are in the same boat as students all over the world. Their future academic journey will not be prejudiced by any delays they face now.
  • Once you have an idea of what subjects need to be covered (more on this below), establish who in the family will be the authority on each subject. Splitting this between parents or older siblings will reduce the pressure on one family member, make education at home less chaotic and allow you to know what you need external help with.

4) Ask the experts

Your school has been planning for distance learning. However, the quality, consistency and reliability of the resources provided, as well as advice on how these should be used, will vary greatly.

  • Do not shy away from contacting your child’s class, subject teacher, or head of year for resources and advice about what your child needs to focus on.
  • The National curriculum website can be useful to establish what your child has covered and what comes next.
  • For pre-GCSE children, BBC Bitesize is easy to use, with sections for all levels up to GCSE. They follow the National Curriculum and it is free to access. Twinklco.uk also have resources for Social, Emotional and Pastoral care. They are usually a paid-for service, however they are offering one month free in light of Covid-19.
  • For students preparing for GCSE and A-Levels, look at the exam board websites. Each exam board typically publishes the specification and past papers for each subject and level that they offer a qualification in. Our articles, Summer exam cancellations and how to appeal calculated grades & Why it is important to keep learning will be helpful for final year GCSE and A-Level parents and students.

5) Wellness and Enrichment

While socialisation will be difficult in the following weeks, there are ways that wellness and enrichment can be promoted at home. Our recommendations include:

  • Online museum tours. Although they cannot visit exhibits, your child can walk through them virtually. Travel and Leisure has a list of worldwide museums, including the British Museum and the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. For a theatre or musically inclined child, the Met Opera in New York are posting live streams of previous performances, which will be available for up to 20 hours after posting.
  • Ted Talks are also a fantastic online opportunity for your child to watch lectures on a range of topics, given by specialists in their fields. These could relate to their current Science or History topics, or just to the wider world in general.
  • Meditation. Apps such as Calm and Headspace are a good resource for GCSE, A-Level and IB students who are worried about impending exams and how they might be affected.
  • Movement. As well as walks and exercise outside as much as possible, YouTube is a fantastic resource to find quick and easy Yoga or general exercise routines.

While online platforms and resources are a fantastic way to conduct or boost your child’s learning, just like at school, successful home schooling programmes rely on expert teaching to consolidate independent research, exploration and study. At Simply Learning Tuition we can introduce in person and online tutors of the highest calibre to help with all parts of your child’s home education.

This is a difficult time, but one with unique potential to help your child overcome any existing areas of weakness and to work effectively towards particular goals, or exams. If you would like to discuss tutoring, or would just welcome some informal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us; we are here to help.

If you have any comments or questions about this Advice Page, we would be delighted to answer them.

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