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Many parents find it hard enough to get their kids to do their homework. Now that we’re responsible for home-schooling too, a once difficult task can feel almost impossible. However hard you’re finding it, there is one golden rule to remember: you’re doing your best.
You might not be able to deliver Maths GCSE training that would smash OFSTED standards, or help younger ones get a handle on History or Geography the way their teachers might, but whatever you can do can help to keep them on the right track.
Don’t forget that kids can learn from anything, and lessons can be found anywhere. They can learn about nature when you take them to the park for their daily hour of outside time, and they can learn about weights, measurements and numbers by helping you bake a cake.
So, with that in mind, try our tips to sort out the set-up at home to help make home-schooling easier…
1. Space to work
Set aside a corner of your lounge or your child’s bedroom where they can have a desk to work at. Respect their space but offer to keep it tidy for them if they’re still young – it always makes work feel easier. For older ones, give them the responsibility of clearing up and maintaining a tidy workspace.
2. Get them organised
When there’s no room for your kids to have their own ‘workstation’, let them choose their own folders and file boxes to store homework notes, pens and other learning materials to keep everything organised. This is their ‘mobile office’. It’s also a great way to put a full stop to the assignments too – the box is closed and put away.
In the same way as opening the box means it’s time to work, if your kids are struggling to focus at home, then another trick to try is to get them to wear their school uniform. It might help to get them into the zone, and make it easier for them to distinguish between school time and home time, when everything is happening in the same place.
3. Break it down
You don’t have to plan for every second of the school day, but spending just a little while each evening planning out what you want to achieve the next day will make it much less stressful. You know your kids and their attention spans, so break the work down into chunks accordingly.
4. Give them control
Getting kids to knuckle down can be difficult, especially in their own home, or in sunny weather when they just want to be in the garden. Show your children that you trust them to create a plan of action to get some work done.
So, you could let them have half an hour to let off steam in the garden or play video games, but they have to get a piece of work finished before they can have a treat, such as a snack or more down time.
5. Use online resources
Depending on the age and stage of your kids, their teachers might be providing work for them to do. If not, then there is a wealth of resources online that can help you. Try Twinkl for help in getting your head around home-schooling.
In addition, the BBC has loads of resources you could make use of. Lots of museums and art galleries are offering virtual tours as well, which could be a great way for kids to learn.
6. Fuel them up
Healthy snacks can help kids keep going during the schooling day. The brain needs energy to function, so fill them up with wholegrains. Starting the day with wholemeal toast or a fortified cereal will release energy slowly and help them to focus. If they’re not sensitive to them, nuts are great for concentration, especially walnuts. Vitamin C and Vitamin K are thought to be brain boosters too, and they’re found in citrus fruits and broccoli respectively.
7. Keep things fun
For younger children, let them learn through play so they can have more fun with it. If they are reading or spelling words let them do it in funny voices, or ask them to colour in their homework using coloured pens rather than boring old pencil.
8. Limit computer distractions
If you find it hard to get the kids to concentrate when they’re working the computer, set tasks that don’t require online research and switch off the WiFi. If they do need to be online, you can also put a time blocker on social media with an app like Stay Focused to keep distractions to a minimum. Also make sure they switch off any extra devices like phones or tablets while they’re working.
9. Understand your kid
Some children will do the bare minimum they can get away with. Others overdo it and spend all evening fretting about their homework. You know your child better than anyone, so you can help them find a balance between not doing enough and stressing about not getting enough done.
10. Forget the guilt
Easier said than done, but don’t be too hard on yourself if some days it just doesn’t work out. Give yourself, and the kids, a break and don’t demand too much. Don’t forget that this isn’t just home-schooling – people who do that usually have access to libraries, museums and galleries, all of which are out of bounds right now. Hopefully these tips will help make home-schooling that little bit easier, for both you and your kids.
How do you keep your kids focused on schoolwork? Share your tips in the comments below.