As the education sector once again returns to a period of remote learning, we share our top-tips for how parents and guardians can help students to not only engage most effectively with their education online, but develop and grow as independent learners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown millions of children into a new mode of learning: online and remotely. Parents up and down the country have also been forced to adopt new ways of working to ensure that they are available to support and motivate their children during this time. A survey conducted by the IFS (Institute of Fiscal Studies) found that “almost 60% of the parents of primary school children and nearly half of the parents of secondary school children report that they are finding it quite or very hard to support their children’s learning at home.”
With the structure of the school day and normal routines disrupted, the transition to working from home can seem overwhelming for parents, staff, and students alike. With change comes opportunity however, and the remote learning model has also opened up space for growth for students. Lockdown has forced us all to adapt, but for students in particular the return to online teaching has called upon them to take ownership of and responsibility for their learning, helping them to develop vital skills, such as organisation, self-discipline, and independence, and habits for success that will serve them for many years to come.
Below we have outlined 6 top tips for helping your child to not just survive lockdown and remote learning, but thrive.
With the daily commute having been replaced for many of us with the daily shuffle from one side of the room to the other, it can be tempting for us all to stay up later and have an extra hour in bed in the morning. It is very important, however, that students continue to follow a set routine, having a good night’s sleep and getting up at their normal time so that they can eat a proper breakfast and prepare mentally for the day ahead. The journey home from school gives students an opportunity to decompress and wind down at the end of a busy school day. Once virtual lessons are finished, encourage your child to shut down their laptop and leave the room where they have been studying for at least half an hour to help them maintain a distance between school and home life.
Breaks and Screen Time
Without the need to move from classroom to classroom, and with the kitchen likely just a few short steps away, it can be easy for online lessons to blur into one, and for students to remain in front of their screens for most of the school day. It is crucial that students continue to make use of their breaks while learning from home, getting up to stretch their legs between lessons and eating lunch away from their desks. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact taking proper breaks has on productivity, concentration, and mental health in the workplace, so these are not just healthy habits for now, but for the future as well. Try to limit students’ screen time at the end of the school day to help them avoid ‘screen fatigue’. When working online, students should regularly ‘stretch’ their eyes by looking out of the window and focusing on a distant object.
Fresh Air and Exercise
With the return to remote learning and many of us spending more time than ever indoors (particularly during these colder months!), it is more important than ever that students keep physically fit and active. While lockdown has certainly limited opportunities for exercise and sport, there are plenty of resources online to help students and their families stay healthy at home. Encourage your child to go outside and get fresh air during breaks and at lunchtime and, if possible, exercise together to increase motivation! For ideas on fun fitness and sport challenges, check out the KPS 28 Day Sport and Wellbeing Challenge!
Ventilation and Workspace
As discussed, when working from home it can be difficult to distance work and school from your home environment. If possible, help students separate learning from downtime by finding a designated area for them to study away from their bedroom or social space. This will also help students ensure that they are set up and ready to go each day. Students should ideally sit at a desk where they can maintain good posture and neck and wrist support, and not on the sofa or in bed. If students need to work in their bedroom, make sure they keep the room well-ventilated and bright (no sitting with the curtains closed) in order to maintain concentration and avoid drowsiness.
Dress the Part
Although it may be tempting for students to roll out of bed and attend lessons in their pyjamas, getting dressed for ‘school’ each day will help them get into the right mindset for their lessons ahead, and maintain that all important distance between school and home. While full school uniform may not be necessary, try helping your child to select a set of clothes that can be worn during online lessons, and a separate set of loungewear that they can change into at the end of the day when it is time to ‘switch-off’.
Food and Nutrition
Sitting in front of a screen all day, especially when working from home, it is easy to lose track of time and develop unhealthy habits. Parents and guardians may also be juggling their own work commitments with their child’s homeschooling, so help students to ‘meal prep’ by preparing snacks for their breaktimes the night before. This will ensure that they are ready to go when needed, and neither you nor your child need to waste time preparing food in between lessons. Remind students to keep a bottle of water near their desks so that they can stay hydrated, thereby improving concentration, and encourage them not to eat in front of their screens.