1. Set up a place for school work. A place for school work helps set the routine and expectation that there is learning to be done. This might be the corner of the dinner table, a desk in the study or a table in the garage. Ensure there is good lighting. If you are using a desk lamp, it should be positioned on the opposite side to the student’s dominant hand – if they are right-handed, the light should be on the left.
2. Gather materials that are going to be helpful. Stationery and other equipment are great fun to gather. Here are some suggestions for things to have on hand: marker pens, mini whiteboards, a calculator, notebooks, sticky notes, a packet of index cards (great for writing key words on), a timer, and counters. Keeping the materials you’ve gathered close at hand (and not swiped by others in the family who also love stationery) will help learning time flow smoothly. Baskets, attractive boxes (boxes your child decorates), or a bookshelf are all recommended, while a different box/folder/basket for each subject is helpful.
3. Check out the learning materials. Teachers will provide lesson details and will be able to guide you in the approaches to take. If you need to ask for more detail or an explanation, don’t be hesitant. Teachers don’t expect parents to know everything. It helps to look over the materials before working with your child, in case you need to seek help.
The day begins
4. Yep, it’s a school day. Some children may settle into a school routine if they follow their usual habits in the morning. For example, set the same wake-up time, the same breakfast ritual, the usual bathroom routine (with extra attention on handwashing), and insist they get dressed for school, perhaps even wearing their school uniform.
5. We’re in this together. Involve your child in planning the day and allow them to decide the order of their lessons. Set a time for each activity. The timer could be used here, or you can find different timers on the internet to change things up. If your child is older and doing some independent work, you can work on your own activity at the same time. Setting a timer for you both can make you both very productive. A popular strategy for writers is the Pomodoro technique – peer pressure to stay focused is powerful.