5 ways to make home learning a positive experience

Online learning is hard but there are plenty of positives to be found, says teacher Gemma Clark

Gemma Clark

Coronavirus: 5 ways to make onlinelearning a positive experience

There is no doubt that home learning can be a challenging task for many working parents (and that's assuming they have access to good wi-fi and enough devices for their children).

I have asked for parents to give feedback on various platforms, and some have reported having a positive experience. Here, then, are the main things that are making things better for families – and ways that teachers can help.

Coronavirus: How to help parents with online learning

1. Young people taking ownership

Some secondary-aged young people have thrived on taking personal responsibility for their own learning. This is a life skill and an important learning experience – so parents and teachers should praise and celebrate this as an achievement in itself. Students should be reminded, though, that their teacher is always there to help with anything they are unsure of.

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2. Take advantage of alternative learning opportunities

For younger children who may not have developed the same self-motivation as older siblings, parents should not be afraid to use other learning opportunities. One parent told me that during 2020 she tried things like the Hi5 Award with Youth Scotland and RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) awards. There are many other fun awards that children can earn, such as the John Muir Award that helps people connect with and care for wild places. It's also well worth Googling how children can earn the highly coveted Blue Peter Badges – and there are different types, such as the environment, music or sports badges.

3. Take the pressure off

Several parents have reported that home learning is less stressful when they do not feel like there is pressure from the teacher to get lots of set work done. Teachers can help with this when making pastoral contact with their families. It is worth reassuring parents that we are not contacting them to chase them up for work but to offer support and advice. It's amazing the difference it can make when a teacher tells a parent, "This is tough – but you're doing a great job."

4. Paper packs

Many schools have offered paper packs to families. A lot of people feel this has made life easier as they have not had to worry about shared devices, excess screen time or internet connections. Although it may take some planning, it is worthwhile teachers considering whether hard-copy versions of schoolwork could be made available for pupils.

5. Embrace the fact that things are different

The people who are finding enjoyment out of home learning have in common the fact that they are embracing the unique opportunities that lockdown brings. This includes making the most of snow days, family time, board games and extra time in the mornings. Involve children in normal everyday household activities. Shopping lists, budgeting, following recipes, measuring ingredients to bake biscuits and crafting are all valuable learning activities. Arrange your day to allow you and your child some time outdoors during daylight hours if you can.

Above all, let us not worry that learning has been lost – let's focus instead on the memories we've made and the new skills we would never normally have learned.

Gemma Clark is a primary teacher in Scotland. She tweets @Gemma_clark14

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