During this time of learning at home, parents are thrust into the role of teaching their child as well as being the parent. Many parents are also working from home which adds to the daily structure and organization needed to make all this work. It is important to stay in close communication with your child’s teacher and together you will navigate what is reasonable.
Researchers have investigated the role and impact of homework and have drawn conclusions that are helpful when we think about what is currently happening where all learning is happening at home. Homework that is practice can improve learning.
Tips for helping your child to learn at home:
- Plan ahead by sitting down with your child/children and look at the required work for the day or week. Estimate how long it will take and set up a plan to get the work done. Be realistic and allow some time for fun with lots of breaks.
- Remember a rule of thumb is that your child’s attention span can be thought of as roughly the same as their age. For example, when 7 years old they can focus well for about 7 minutes. This peaks at 15 -20 minutes.
- Remove all other distractions such as TV, virtual meetings /calls etc. during the learning at home time. Help to keep your child on task with gentle reminders.
- Foster a positive learning atmosphere.
- As part of the plan be sure your child understands the instructions and when possible provide an example or model for your child to get going. Or figure out the first problem together.
- Rather than do the work for your child, try to give them the skills to work through the work themselves.
- Watch for signs of disengagement frustration and have your child take a break, count to ten or give themselves an encouraging message. Listen and empathize.
- Many teachers have hours that they can be reached during the week, so reach out and ask questions rather than become discouraged.
- Remember your job as a parent is to support, guide, and answer questions that help your child to think of the answer. Explain instructions and review the work before sending it off.
- Use questions to help your child get as close to the answer as possible.
- Resist the urge to mark everything and to correct every mistake. Work with your teacher to see what is expected with the task sent home. For example, with writing, it is important for your child to first get the ideas down and then maybe the teacher will only ask for two things to be corrected. Lots of free writing and draft writing happens before a piece is published or fully corrected.
- Remember it is okay for answers to be wrong. Help but not too much and leave some errors. Errors will show the teacher areas to further support your child.
- Remember the work does not have to always look perfect and pretty since learning is messy and the focus is on the content.
- Teach your child problem-solving skills that they need to get through their work and offer encouragement.
- Keep in mind that you are trying to help your child to help themselves with learning.
- Help your child to see that you value what they are learning. Comment positively on their effort.