Realise that you are not replacing school. You are your child’s parent, not their teacher. They are very different relationships. You can be flexible but firm. By establishing some rules and routines, you are reframing what can be achieved together at home when you set parameters and explain very clearly how things are going to play out.
One of the best things you can do as a parent is to provide a ‘specific learning space’, that is, a calm environment that sets up a mindset for your child that this is where they will be doing some structured learning. By doing this, you are ‘clearing the space’ for learning.
There are things you can do to make learning at home more productive and enjoyable for both you and your child, such as:
Ask interesting questions and help your child to do this too.
What’s an interesting question?
Students ask lots of questions, so do teachers. Questions can be simple, what are the days of the week? To complex, why is the sky blue during the day?
Simple questions are used to gather information. Complex questions are used to probe and dig deeper.
What is the correct amount of wait time after posing a question?
Answer: three to five seconds.
This is a simple one, but wow does it make a difference. Using the correct amount of wait time will greatly improve responses you get from your child (and everyone else!).
Most often, having asked a question, we might wait until we believe someone has thought about the question before expecting an answer. If you practice wait time you will notice that your child will give better answers. Giving your child more time to think means that there is less pressure on an immediate response.
Mix up the types of lessons that your child is doing and don’t expect that they will concentrate for hours on end.
Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.)
This is a reading regime that is used in many schools. It encourages children to read and is a great way to refocus a child back into the learning space. To make this work, you must also be reading a book. Not working on a computer or texting.
You may like to start with a short time and build up to at least 15 minutes. These 15 minutes are SILENT. This sort of program is sometimes known as Silent Reading. (The key is in the name.)
Note: It is okay for your child to be reading anything but a device – a comic book, fiction, non-fiction, a book on footy stats, a recipe … anything at all that encourages engagement with written printed material.
Although the times we are in are stressful, there may be a silver lining when you get an opportunity to spend quality one on one time with your child.
When you work one-on-one you are able to identify what your child can do without any assistance, and what can be achieved with guidance and encouragement.
The idea is not to ‘do the work’ but rather it is to scaffold the learning, providing tips, prompts, learning tools and posing questions that will enable the learner to ‘get there’ – essentially on their own.