Homeschooling has largely been an option taken by a small minority of families for a number of years with most parents opting for the traditional education system. In fact, just 3% of school-age children in the US were homeschooled in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it gave parents and children around the world a taste of learning at home as schools were closed and lessons moved online during the first wave of the pandemic. And even when restrictions were eased and schools reopened, it was a blend between classroom and online learning.
As more and more time has been spent learning at home, parents have become increasingly aware that a free space on the kitchen table (or worse, the sofa) while they work from home isn’t the ideal learning environment for a child. They have, therefore, looked for ways to develop a perfect environment to continue learning during the pandemic.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some handy tips and ideas to help you develop a wonderful learning environment for your child.
1. Set a structure
School children are used to a very clear structure to their day, from breakfast to lunch and classes to breaks. With the upheaval and disruption caused by the pandemic, giving their home learning some structure with help to offer at least some normality to their days.
Try to mimic their ordinary school schedule as best you can. While some schedules will differ from school to school, most educators follow roughly the same structure, particularly for younger children – learning in the morning, break time, more learning, lunch, less intensive work such as creative activities after lunch when they’re more tired.
Try to display the schedule on the wall or a notice board so it’s clear for everyone to see and understand.
2. Get creative
Following typical school structures, more creative activities take place in the afternoon when the children have less energy. This might be a good time to move them away from that dedicated workspace. Creative learning often takes place away from the children’s desk.
If the weather is suitable, why not move to some valuable outdoor learning? If the weather isn’t suitable, a teepee tent is an excellent, more relaxed alternative to the workspace setting. Teepees offer a safe space that enhances and enables creativity and imagination, ideal for reading, music or craft activities.
3. Preparing the workspace
Some adults struggle to differentiate between home and work when they’re working from home, so it’s understandable that children struggle with it in their education. School is full of signs that indicate it’s time to learn – uniforms, bells, workspaces, different books.
Creating a dedicated workspace for part of the day is a great and simple way to indicate that it’s time for school (albeit at home) and time to learn. If possible, this should be a separate table or desk to help differentiate between school and home life. However, it’s you’re not able to do that, try to make a common space, like the kitchen table, different in some way – laying down a specific table cloth or mat, for example. Try to make that space free of other distractions, too. If they’re using the kitchen table, try to make sure it’s clean and tidy!
4. Don’t be afraid to change
What works for one child might not work for another. You may try to replicate a school environment only to find your child learns and studies much better in a more relaxed setting. It’s an incredibly difficult time for everyone and you need to find what works best for you and your child alongside the requirements of teachers.
As more businesses get used to home working, focus is shifting away from how many hours workers spend at their desk to their output – how much they get done in a day based on what works best for them. As the pandemic continues to disrupt home, school and working lives, perhaps it’s time for a more flexible approach to learning, finding a system and a structure that suits the child and allows them to flourish, rather than forcing the child to fit into a system.