For a lot of parents, guardians and students, the dreaded thought of working from home as well as donning the homeschooling teachers cap was one that was welcomed into the history books; but with the UK going into another lockdown, it is time to get creative once again to keep students of all ages, atop their education.
Parents, grandparents and even siblings will once again become teachers with schools set to remain closed until February. Though this may seem daunting, it’s worth remembering that there are plenty of resources available to help when teaching and learning at home, with edtech bridging the gap between physical schooling and remote learning.
Quizlet’s UK Country Manager, Rahim Hirji has shared a rough guide to keeping students engaged in their studies while the country remains in lockdown.
Before you consider these recommendations, remember that a student’s attention span is 2-3 minutes per year of their age, so keep that in mind when planning. For example, a teenager should be able to manage 30-40 consecutive minutes. Let the following steps be seen as a rough guide to keeping students invested in their education and maintaining a routine, while the country is on lockdown.
Create a structure - Many teachers will be creating daily and weekly lesson plans for students, or giving guided classes to follow from home. If this is the case for you, it is important that, as a parent, you try to be aligned with these schedules. If classes used to do maths in the morning and visit languages after lunch, continue that pattern to the best of your ability. Try to maintain regular school hours from home, so that student don't fall out of their existing routine. Then use this as a basis to build wider activities around: schedule exercise, relaxation time, and moments to be creative together.
Schedule creative time - It’s important to find time to be creative outside of schoolwork and computer time. Get books out, coloured pens, counters, blocks, whatever you may have to hand. Make a recipe with family members, work on a puzzle, go on an indoor scavenger hunt. Now’s the time to try something new.
Remember, connection is still key - Changing the home environment into a learning one can be difficult to associate, so it is important to find separate time to connect with each other. We may be physically distant, but we can still be socially close. Setting up 'virtual play dates' on a one to one basis can also be a way of loosening up the scenario and feeling less alone. Parents can use secure video conferencing tools to create virtual playgrounds, where students can come together to chat or play. This can also be a great way for parents to compare notes and offer support to one another.
Get active - At 9 am each day, body coach, Joe Wicks, is hosting a daily online PE Lesson that parents are encouraged to do alongside students, either in real-time or later in the day. Getting active early is a great way to start the day, and will boost mental stimulation throughout the morning. If outdoor space is limited, be creative: push back the sofas to create a makeshift workout space. Additionally, meditation, yoga, and tai-chi are just a few activities that can be carried out as a whole family and don’t require a huge amount of space.
Embrace digital tools - Most parents will be at a total loss as to what is available to them and students when it comes to the apps, platforms, and websites used every day in the classroom. Bodies such as UNESCO have outlined some of the best and most effective sites, apps, and platforms to help students, parents, teachers and lecturers stay connected whilst learning from a distance. Connected platforms such as Google Classroom and study activity applications like Quizlet are also great as they allow teachers to monitor and keep up with students’ progress while they continue to learn at home.
In these strange times, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Though it may seem daunting and stressful, there are numerous resources available to help when teaching students from home. Whether it is a lesson plan that the teacher has emailed over, an online class to participate in together, or tailored videos, games, or quizzes, the tools are there for the taking.