Top Tips for Home Learning
Written by Dr. Amanda Gummer
Many parents have suddenly found themselves unexpectedly plunged into the world of home learning, which has brought its share of challenges.
Most of us are not teachers and aren’t expected to suddenly know how to teach and as this is a very unusual time for all of us, and we need to be sure to put our mental health first. People deal with stressful situations differently and some will find comfort throwing themselves into work or home learning.
And finally, while not everyone is in the same boat, we are all sailing in the same storm. Children will be at various stages when they do eventually return to school, and it will take some time to adjust back to that old routine. The most vital thing to manage right now is your child’s wellbeing, so that they can emotionally cope with everything they have been through, and whatever is to come.
So remember – you aren’t doing this through choice, you are not expected to be perfect at it, and your child will not be left behind. With all of that in mind, my core message is: go easy on yourself. Whilst the golden rule is to prioritise your own mental health (remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup!) and that of your family, here are some tips to help you on your journey.
Balancing Working from Home:
Statistics from a recent study conducted by Osmo show that 1 in 3 British parents are juggling a balance of working, with home schooling their children, perhaps for the first time. But even for us seasoned working-from-homers, it’s a challenge – for the majority (42%), parents are only able to dedicate 2-3 hours to their kid’s learning per day, but that’s ok. It’s hard to be productive when you’re anxious, or distracted by partners and children who wouldn’t normally be around. So it’s important to be realistic about the work you can get done around everything else.
Sharing childcare with your partner can help, so you might consider taking turns to work or look after the children. Discussing your fixed work schedule, such as times when you have conference calls, can help you make a plan that suits you both. If you’re a single parent, you could consider video calling the friends and family who would usually help with childcare, so they can lead a ‘virtual’ lesson or just keep your child entertained with a story or fun activity for a while.
You may also need to be flexible with your working hours, in order to fit around childcare. Nap times (if you have younger children) and bedtimes can be useful opportunities to get some work done.
Creating a Routine:
A routine is a helpful way to make sure you are getting a good balance between work and play, and almost half (49%) of parents admit to having implemented a new version during lockdown. It also provides a sense of familiarity and comfort, which I think we all need right now.
Typically, a child can concentrate for two to five minutes, times their age. So a five-year-old can focus on a single activity for about 10 to 25 minutes, while a 10-year-old will be able to concentrate for much longer, at around 20 to 50 minutes. The more engaged your child is in the activity, the longer they will be able to pay attention. It will also vary a lot depending on the child, so consider what will work best for your son or daughter.
It’s also important to remember that something is better than nothing and some days will be easier than others. Treating each day as a new day can help keep everyone’s spirits up – one day off won’t hurt.
Motivating your Child:
You can motivate your child by making learning fun and meaningful to them. Now is an excellent chance for them to explore whatever interests they have and with a little guidance, this can be used to support their learning. Screen time can be a valuable tool to get you some peace and quiet when needed and can be particularly helpful with keeping children engaged. Osmo provides educational tools that offer a unique learning experience through the combination of screen time and hands-on play. It’s important to incorporate a balance of these engaging activities, as well as worksheets and tasks that teachers may be setting at school to help spark their imaginations.
Neither you or your children will get much work done if you are stressed and anxious, therefore, your health and wellbeing needs to always be at the forefront. These tips will hopefully help you to balance work, childcare, and self-care effectively, but remember that every family is different and it’s important to find something that works for your own unique situation.
My take home tips are:
- If you are working from home, be honest with yourself and your employer about what you can realistically achieve, and work flexibly where possible
- Create a routine based on your child’s attention span with some home learning spread across the day
- Use playful activities and incorporate healthy screen time to motivate your child’s learning
Dr. Amanda Gummer
Amanda has a Ph.D. in neuropsychology, the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, and over 20 years of experience working with children and families. Widely considered as the UK’s go-to expert on play, toys, and child development, she combines her theoretical knowledge with a refreshingly pragmatic approach to family life, that resonates both with parents and professionals. Her book ‘Play’ was published in May 2015 and has been translated into two different languages with extracts being published in the USA’s Toy Industry Association’s Genius of Play initiative, for which she is an ‘expert ambassador’.
Amanda is regularly in the media, continues to take an active role in research, and is often involved in government policy around children’s issues – currently as a member of two child-focussed All Party Parliamentary Groups, and speaking at the European Parliament in September 2019.
Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide
Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide (GPG) is the trading name for The Good Toy Guide Ltd, established in 2012 by Dr. Amanda Gummer.
GPG is committed to making the world more playful and supports children and family industries at every stage of their product life cycle to raise standards and provide children with opportunities to thrive through play.
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The unique combination of robust research methodology, in-depth understanding of children’s development, and parenting issues along with years of experience in children’s industries makes the team at GPG a valuable partner to any organisation providing products or services for children.
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