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Parents: 10 top tips to help educate your child at home

From a parent’s perspective, unless you’re a teacher, knowing how to formally educate your child may not necessarily be easy. You leave that to the professionals at the school gate. So, when you happen to have your child at home for any length of time, how do you ensure they have some meaningful learning time?

This article is about how parents can manage the challenges presented by having their children at home for stretches of time (and children can be challenging!). It is aimed at helping parents manage that time and those challenges, and as a result, support their children with experiencing quality learning time at home.

  • Check out your child’s school’s website

How this will help: Tells you what activities you can do at home that links to what they’re learning at school.

It’s a legal requirement for every school to publish their curriculum online (via their website), so it should be easy to see on your child’s school’s website what topic your child is studying this week / half term in each subject.

There are three possibilities on the website that your child’s school may have:

Curriculum Map: This gives you a broad-brush overview of what each year group is covering each half term. There’s usually little detail on this, but it gives you a good overview of what they are learning now and for the rest of the year.

Programme of Study: This gives you the curriculum over the year in a nutshell and should give you a week-by-week summary of what your child is learning in each subject, what is being assessed and what is expected to be done for homework.

Key Stage 4 and 5: For students in Key Stage 4 and 5, the programme of study is usually included in the exam board specifications and if the school don’t publish this on their website, it can be downloaded from the exam board’s website.

Scheme of Work: This gives you a detailed account of what your child will be studying in each lesson. It usually has the individual activities, as well as the assessments and homework. This will give you more than enough detail to help you at home with your child and their education!

  • Get them to read a book (and make it interesting!)

How this will help: Builds confidence and ability in a key life skill.

We all appreciate the vital importance of reading and when done daily, will make a massive difference to your child’s experience and enjoyment of reading.

Build up their reading: Get them to read a small amount; nail this. Then over time, increase the amount they read each day. Include a dictionary, as with a dictionary to hand to find out what new words mean, they will make progress in reading in leaps and bounds.

Primary age: At the start, read for them (model it). Later, read with them at the same time (build their confidence). Eventually, listen to them read (embed their confidence in reading on their own).

Secondary age: Ask them to read and review a chapter of a book and feedback to you or the rest of the family what happened. Get them into it by asking them to predict what happens next.

  • Get them to practice a skill

How this will help: Develops key skills in an area in which they are talented or want to develop further.

What are they talented at? Interested in? Get them to spend time each day developing a skill in something they’re talented at. Online activities can be found at BBC bitesize, Khan Academy, Educake and Get Revising are all great websites that have stacks of activities.

Otherwise, practice maths (check out Hegarty Maths on YouTube), sports, playing a musical instrument or singing, making things, trying to solve increasingly difficult problems, memorising a song, poem or speech from a film or play.

  • Get them to answer a Big Question

How this will help: Gets to grips with concepts and deeper thinking.

A big question is used in schools to set in motion a train of questions. For example: Why is the sky blue? Why do coastlines change? Who was the greatest monarch in history? From this question, get them to come up with a list of questions they need to answer, which in turn will help answer the big question. Using a mind map or similar visual technique, should keep them quiet and learning for a few hours…

  • Get them to do some research

How this will help: Develops key skills that will be needed for later life.

Finding out the who / what / where / when / why and how of a topic is a great way to keep your child busy, (hopefully) interested and keen to know more about! Use the school’s curriculum map / scheme of work to set research on topics from school, for example art and artists, music and musicians, history (local town / area), local celebrities, family history, family name, etc.

  • Get them to memorise 20 facts (they didn’t know yesterday)

How this will help: Works their memory muscle and gets more information painlessly in their brain!

The only way to get information really in your head is to memorise it. Asking them to find out 20 facts about an area of interest and to memorise these will help not only increase their knowledge, but also increase their ability to memorise things in the future. Break them into small chunks (5 at a time) will help make the journey easier.

  • Learn some life skills together

How this will help: Develops key skills that will be needed for later life.

Whether it’s learning to prepare food, cooking a simple meal, learning how to clean, sew or iron, we sometimes forget, we all need to learn these things at some time.

Spending quality time with our children and ensuring they know how to do these important life skills can be an investment in our future as much as theirs!  

  • Get them to make a presentation of what they’ve learnt today

How this will help: To better understand an area in which they are talented or want to develop further.

Whether it’s a PowerPoint, mind map, piece of drama, song or speech, getting your child to present and sum up what they have learnt that day on a topic is a great and fun way to reinforce key learning.

  • Get them to review a film

How this will help: Develops their concentration and evaluation skills.

We all love watching films. Every film tells a story. Whatever the film, and almost at whatever age, we can all give our opinion about a film – what went well, which were the best bits (and why) which were the worst bits (and why) and overall whether we would recommend it to a friend.

  • Play games together

How this will help: Develops their social skills and key life skill of how to win (and lose) gracefully.

Whether it’s charades (or the modern equivalent, Heads Up), footie, card games or computer games, playing games together is a way of spending quality time with your child (and it might even be fun!). 

Have other ideas to share or questions to ask?

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