In these unprecedented times, families around the UK are scrambling to ensure their children have the necessary resources to continue learning at home. But almost two months into the lockdown and many parents have discovered that this is much easier said than done.
With so many distractions at hand, from TV to games consoles, keeping children engaged in learning during the lockdown is proving difficult for many families.It’s important to understand that this is a very tough time for children too; being away from friends and having routines thrown out the window, all while being told they need to stay indoors for the foreseeable future.
Whilst it’s important to ensure that your child remains engaged in learning throughout these difficult times, it’s just as important to look after their mental health. Often, these two things come hand-in-hand, which is why we’ve put together this helpful guide.
One of the most effective ways to keep your children engaged in learning is by keeping their routines as close to normal as possible. This means if they usually go to bed at 9pm on a school night, then make sure they continue to go to bed at a similar time. Maybe your child used to have football practice on a Tuesday evening; why not trade this for a weekly family kickabout in the garden?
This should also be applied to the school day routine; for example by setting start and end times for the day, as well as break and lunch times. If you want to take this a step further, try to replicate the lesson schedule, too. So, if your child is used to having a history lesson at 1pm on a Tuesday, find some topical resources and aim to follow the same structure.
The benefits of regular exercise are well-proven; from better mental health to an improved immune system. The NHS recommends that young people between the ages of 5 and 18 should spend at least 60 minutes exercising each week, with adults recommended to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Depending on how old and active your children are this length of time can vary, but 60 minutes should be a bare minimum during the lockdown period.
Taking regular breaks can also help with this. If your child is used to running around the playground with friends at school, then why not encourage them to go out in the garden every couple of hours for some play time? Alternatively, you could make a trip to the local park, walk down to the shops, or even go on a short bike ride.
While it’s good to ensure that your child sticks to the school syllabus, encouraging them to only use textbooks is bound to result in boredom. Incorporate fun ways to learn into their day; for example, by taking part in one of the many online celebrity lessons, playing some fun online STEM games, or even putting together your own daily/weekly quiz (with prizes, of course).
In addition, you could also teach your children other skills. This can be particularly helpful if your kids normally go to after-school clubs or a childminder’s. For younger children, this could be an arts and crafts evening, garden sports activities or even fun cooking lessons. For older children, you could teach them more complex cooking skills, how to manage finances or even tasking them with a more in-depth research-and-presentation piece on a subject they’re interested in.
Another way to keep your child engaged during the lockdown is to gamify their learning activities. In summary, gamification is the process of adding gaming elements to non-gaming situations, such as learning. There are various ways that you can do this; one of the easiest being playing online learning games.
You could also gamify learning by giving your children rewards when they reach a certain milestone, by introducing an element of friendly competition with daily/weekly quizzes, or by setting group assignments where your kids are rewarded for working together.
It’s important to recognise that different things work for different people. One of your children may be an auditory learner, whereas another may be a visual or kinesthetic learner. If this is the case, your learning plans will need to be personalised for each child based on their learning styles. This will not only ensure they can truly reap the benefits of their learning, but will also make it easier for you to plan the lessons.
You may already know what type of learner your child is, but if not simply have a conversation with them about how they prefer to learn. Or if they don’t know, you can use one of the many free online learning style questionnaires. Try to monitor how your child responds to different tasks to get a better idea of their learning style.