Top 10 tips to support your child with online learning at home

Following on from his online Q&A session for parents last week, Mr O’Neil has put together his top 10 tips for supporting your child with their learning at home, to make the experience as productive as possible for them and as stress-free for you!

  1. Have a healthy breakfast

Foods rich in slow-release energy such as granary bread, wholegrain cereals, porridge oats or nuts, combined with protein rich foods such as nut butter, eggs, cheese or yogurt will keep blood sugar levels balanced throughout the morning. Avoid cereals high in sugar.

  1. Be prepared

Create a visual timetable with your child. This will help them feel prepared for the day ahead with no surprises. It will also help them learn about time and structure of the day.

  1. Create a workstation

Make sure your child has a quiet, distraction-free space to work. A place with a desk and comfortable chair. All of the things they may need throughout the day should be in this space including laptop / tablet device, workbooks, stationary, drink etc.

  1. Stay in Routine

Children love routine as much as adults do. Try and stick to the visual timetable. Have a morning wake up routine (brush teeth, get dressed, have breakfast). Make regular break and lunch times within the day.

  1. Consider technical issues

The age old ‘turn it off then on again’ works surprisingly often. If you have poor Wi-Fi try moving closer to the Wi-Fi router or use an Ethernet cable to plug into the router and your laptop; this should speed things up. If all else fails, contact the school for further advice.

  1. Balance the level of support

Think about a classroom environment. It is not possible for a teacher or teaching assistant to sit with one child for the whole lesson and this is the same for parents. Many of you will have your own work lives to balance around home learning. Show a couple of examples, or start them off, encourage them to have a go by themselves for a short time and reassure them that you will be back to check. If they find the task too challenging to do any independent work, leave it and explain this to the class teacher. They will give ideas on how to pitch it at the right level.

  1. Learn to adapt

It’s okay to change things up if something is not working. Teachers do this constantly throughout the day. Plans are always flexible. If an activity is too hard, think of ways to achieve the same goal, but in an easier way. Equally, make an activity more challenging if your child completes it within 5 minutes. Reach out to the class teacher for suggestions. If you think you’ve spent too long on an activity, take an unscheduled movement break. Focus on core subjects if things get in the way of doing everything. Do not spend the weekend catching up on missed work – take each day as it comes.

  1. Recognise that behaviour will change

Let’s be realistic, behaviour at home will rarely be the same as behaviour at school. Focusing on rewarding positive behaviours will have a big impact. Lots of things will affect behaviour – lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of routine, distractions, etc. You may see more anger, rudeness, tears, overreliance on support or just plain refusal to do anything. Sometimes, simply giving a choice may help. For children not wanting to complete a piece of work, saying ‘you can complete this activity at the dining room table or your work table, those are your two choices’ could help achieve the desired outcome. Make sure both choices have an outcome you think is acceptable. Reach out to class teachers for other behaviour management strategies.

  1. Use the power of rewards

Schools will use rewards as motivation to encourage good behaviour and excellent work. For example:

  • Give house points for good work, good manners, politeness, effort, or any positive behaviours.
  • Use a ‘Marble Jar’. One marble given for finished work or good behaviours. When the jar is full, a reward is earned.
  • Create a reward system with your child. In the above example, consider rewards for 5, 10, 25, 100 marbles etc.
  • Make a ‘WOW’ work wall. Display and be proud of work that has required a lot of effort.
  1. Remember you are doing well

Being thrust into this situation has not been easy. Juggling home learning alongside full time working is very challenging, and you have to remind yourself that you are doing an amazing job. Many of us have had a very short amount of time to get used to new technology including live virtual lessons, accessing online learning and submitting work. The above tips will not work for everyone and should not be followed rigidly. It is intended as a very brief summary of ideas as support. It will not always go to plan… and that’s okay. You are still doing well. Always remember reach out to the school for support at any time.

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