‘On social media there are tens of thousands of students and parents seeking online ways to continue their learning’ (Maths4everyone)
We’ve put together six top tips from a few of our experienced authors on what makes a good learning resource for parents to use with their children at home.
1. Try to stand out from the crowd
The author academy provides you with tips on how to cater to professional teachers, but parents and students are a different audience. Consider whether the ‘professional’ appearance of a resource will appeal to parents as much as it does to teachers.
‘It’s important to have cover images that attract parents and students. Previously you may have catered to teachers but these users haven’t looked for online resources before. Something that’s pleasing to the eye is important.’
2. Focus on a topic that you can share your enthusiasm for
When selecting a home learning topic you don’t always have to stick to a specification. Maybe pick a topic you love that you can enthuse people about. This way you’re more likely to create a resource that others can get enthusiastic about as well.
‘Out of sheer love of the stories, I put together four Sherlock Holmes reading comprehension titles, and I think these are still my favourite resources. Sir A. C. Doyle’s prose is a treat to read at any age, so parents are likely to enjoy the stories as much as their students!’
3. Parents are not subject specialists
When preparing your own lessons to teach you will rely on your subject knowledge and expertise to build on the content of the resources. However, this may not be possible for parents during home learning. Try to make tasks self-guided for students to complete independently and enable students to mark their own work by providing answer sheets.
‘You can’t assume that everyone at home knows the right methods. I know from helping my own son with maths that the number of different techniques is astonishing and you can’t expect parents to know which is this year’s way of doing long division!’
‘Include clear answers with some explanation. Go back and add answers to your resources and advertise the fact that the resource now includes those answers.’
4. Make your resources practical for use at home
The files that teachers rely on daily are often prepared for specialist software that schools subscribe to such as those for Promethean and Smart boards. It is important to remember that students and parents are unlikely to have the same level of software available to them at home. Make sure that you share your resources in an easy to use format.
'Try to make resources as platform independent as you can, not everyone’s even got PowerPoint. Some families will have PCs, some will have Macs, some rely on tablets and many students just have mobile phones.'
5. Don’t rely on printing
Teachers are very familiar with the demand for the staff room printer or photocopier in preparation for their lessons, but printing technology is not to be found in every home. Consider whether your resource needs to be printed and whether you could provide an alternative version that only requires viewing on a screen.
'Some families won’t have a printer. Worksheets can only be done if you print them, especially if they’re .pdf documents.'
6. Make your resources enjoyable so that people come back
As parents are not teachers they’re unlikely to know what style of learning works best for their children. Making resources appealing in various or unique ways can persuade your audience to keep coming back for more of your resources.
'Start with straightforward questions and have a fair few of them, don’t let the questions get too hard too quickly or you will put a lot of people off and they’ll go and look somewhere else. Let them get to know and like your style so they go and try another one of your resources.'
'Having videos that show how to do something is really valuable. Perhaps create assessment or activity tasks but link to a YouTube video where you can deliver the explanation as to how something is done. The student can then try the task and maybe you could have another video that goes through the answers.'