Remote learning: something that most of us were unfamiliar with before COVID-19 (coronavirus) hit but is now something we are all a little too familiar with. There are clever tips and tricks to help you tackle this challenge head-on at home. If you are in an area affected, your homeschooling help is here! Live someplace else? Use these helpful hacks to establish better homework habits.

Set up a Special Learning Space

     Having the right gear goes a long way to helping you stay motivated and achieve your goals. Who hasn’t bought new activewear before joining a gym or signing up for a half-marathon?      It’s no different for kids, so make home learning fun and easy by creating a designated study space. A sturdy desk or table and a comfortable chair, away from the TV, are a good place to start.      Add anything that will make the space feel their own, like a reading lamp or a cute cup. Invest in fun notepads, colourful folders and a desk caddy full of gel pens and snazzy highlighters to entice your kids to sit down and get stuck into their schoolwork.      “For children to take ownership of their space, encourage them to choose their own learning location and be involved in the set-up,” suggests primary school teacher Aliana Lowe.    

What To Try

Embrace a Rewards System

Using a reward system is one way to excite kids about home learning.

     Look, we know learning should be its own reward, but most of us need a little help to stay focused and complete our set tasks. For some kids, what works best is dangling a carrot in front of them, in the form of a shiny sticker, a tasty snack or some iPad time.      Primary school teacher and mum-of-four Melissa Belanji says, “Tune into what your child likes and work with them to reward them for their efforts. My girls love gymnastics, so after some learning sessions we go onto YouTube and they dress up and participate in gymnastics drills.” Keep track of their progress with a magnetic or sticker rewards chart.      Remember, rewards don’t have to cost you a bomb. Find small ways to inspire and uplift your little learners – hand out personalised merit certificates signed by Teacher Mum, or choose a Student Of The Week and host your own ceremony where their photo is hung on the wall or stuck on the fridge with plenty of pomp and circumstance.    

What To Try

Encourage a Special Interest Project

Use special interest projects to motivate kids when learning at home.

         Many teachers will tell you that remote learning can be challenging. As Aliana says, “My top tip is to be kind to yourself. It’s important for parents to remember that home learning is not homeschooling and family welfare is the most important thing. I know it’s easy to feel as though you must do all the things or your child will be left behind, but the truth is children are resilient and will bounce back.”           If you are homeschooling and finding it overwhelming, try sticking to the basics: reading, writing, counting, drawing shapes and making patterns. If your kids aren’t keen on the curriculum set by their teachers, why not try a different approach? Find a topic that does appeal –          like horses, space, volcanoes or ballet – and set them to work researching online. Suggest they fill up a scrapbook with the new facts they’ve discovered and include drawings, diagrams and graphs. Tell their teachers about the special project: they’ll be super-impressed by all the hard work! You could even scan your kids’ work to share online with classmates.        

What To Try

SEE ALSO: Homeschooling: How to Sustain Your Mental Health & Wellbeing

Create a Schedule

According to primary school teacher Claire Simpson, “routine is really important for children. In my classroom, it’s visual – at the start of each day, I note down a plan for what’s ahead. Try using some sort of checklist or a visual calendar of the day and check things off as you go – it can give you a good feeling of accomplishment and keep you on track. Plus, you can tell where you’re up to if you need to come back to something later.” A paper to-do list is super-handy or purchase a small whiteboard to note down and then cross off the day’s priorities. Kids have short attention spans, so it may help to break things down into small tasks. Schedule a quick session of learning – say 25 minutes – then change things up with some star jumps or a walk outside to get some fresh air. Have a clock or timer nearby so that kids have a visual reminder of how long each session will last.

What To Try

Get the Whole Family Involved

Tips to get kids excited about learning at home: get grandparents to help out.

             Being a parent in the pandemic can be tough and lonely. But don’t forget that you’ve got friends and family who can lend a helping hand, plus the technology is available for collaborative learning. First up, get the grandparents on board via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime. Establish a regular call time each day for them to check in and catch up with your little people. They can read stories together or listen to the kids recite their spelling words. Most little ones love to help out and share their knowledge with younger brothers and sisters, so start a sibling mentoring program and watch your kids shine. “I’m teaching Year 4 this year and some of the feedback I’ve had is they’re helping their younger siblings with some of their work, so that’s been a good benefit. And they really like doing that – older primary children like feeling helpful with their younger siblings,” says Claire. From a learning perspective, great things happen when students become teachers – it’s proven to help better understanding of a topic and encourage deeper learning.            

What To Try