6. A whole day? You’ve got to be kidding! You don’t need to spend the full day at the desk. The ‘little bit, often’ rule is helpful here. Long lessons are not as effective as short, focused lessons with repetition. TV ads have used this approach for a long time because it’s effective. I’ve written more about this here. Thanks to the staff at West Beach Primary School in Adelaide, here is an example of a home-school schedule (note the emphasis on physical activity – that’s going to be very important):
7. Learning opportunities abound. Keep your focus on key concepts for each subject for the week. Everyone in the household can join in with focusing on these ‘big ideas’. Some of these are likely to come up naturally throughout the day.
8.There’s more to learning than the curriculum. If possible, spend some time outside. Study plants close up: take photos of interesting ones, pull up weeds and study the roots. Look for insects or other animals. Watch water from a bucket flow downhill and build dams to move the water where you want. Listen to bird calls, and learn their names and the patterns of their feathers. Find places to climb, play hide and seek, or sing songs loudly for fun. Some of these activities will spark interest, which you can follow up with internet searches. P.s. these topics are in the curriculum, too!
9. Friends, friends, friends. One of the best things about school is the time spent with friends. Maintaining relationships when we are all confined to home is hard. Some families use applications such as Skype or FaceTime to stay in touch with family members overseas. This might be a way to stay in touch with friends closer by. You may even involve your children in group conversations.
The day ends
10. Tomorrow’s another day. Not every day is going to be a great learning day. Sometimes little progress seems to have been made; sometimes our children seem to have forgotten everything they knew a day ago. Don’t worry; learning is like that. Sometimes what has been learnt is not what we’ve noticed, and yet will emerge as time goes on. Learning is a lifelong process and our kids have years ahead of them. Sometimes it is easy to think that if kids don’t learn their lesson today, it will compound problems into the future. Fortunately, that’s not the case: the curriculum spirals around so topics are never covered once only. Keep a good record of what you have done and what you have noticed. The progress made in the weeks to come may surprise you. Photos and videos of learning become lovely memories.
The key message from these 10 tips is that learning together should be enjoyable – challenging, but still enjoyable. If it becomes a battle, retreat! Your relationship with your child is more important. Slip in surreptitious learning along the way – a key word at dinner, a story at bedtime – and enjoy this precious time together.