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【英國】Expert advice on how to homeschool your children

Nicola Anderson, head of customer support at MyTutor, reveals tips and tricks for homeschooling under lockdown

What are your tips for picking up homeschooling after the Easter break?

“This can be a chance to start afresh and build on what you learned worked and didn’t work with homeschooling before Easter.  Keeping your child’s education on track with schools closed is a big ask for any parent. Without the structure of the school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a dive. At the same time, your structure at home doesn’t need to be as rigid as at school. If you haven’t done so already, help your child set up a timetable that’ll work for them and covers the subjects they need. Divide up periods of study with active breaks. Make sure your child moves, goes outside, eats meals at the appropriate times and has offline conversations. You don’t have to suddenly be an expert in your child’s subjects either; outsourcing to an online tutor who knows exactly what they’re studying can help them stay on track, motivate them and boost their morale.”

Where can I find teaching resources?

“There’s a huge range out there — and even more have sprung up since schools closed. Save My Exams has a big library of GCSE and A Level questions and past papers. For children at primary level, Twinkl has an amazing library of lesson resources made by teachers. For those missing PE, fitness guru Joe Wicks’s classes are perfect. And if you’re looking for some creative activities to keep your kids busy all afternoon, The Artful Parent has loads of great arts and crafts ideas. If your teenager has had exams cancelled, finding them an online tutor can help them create a personalised learning programme that reflects their interests.”

How many hours of lessons should my children be doing each day?

“Take advantage of homeschooling by structuring your child’s days to match how they learn best. This could mean lots of regular breaks over a regular six-hour school day, or longer, uninterrupted periods of study before finishing earlier than usual. If your child works better in the afternoon, schedule free reading time for the morning, and more challenging learning in the afternoon. If they are struggling, don’t feel bad about writing off a few days of learning. Keeping spirits up is difficult for everyone at the moment so go easy on yourself and your children.”

How can I cater to both my teenager and my 10-year-old?

“Children aged five to 12 will need a higher level of support than older kids. It’s a matter of working out what they need support for and what they can do independently, while knowing you are nearby to help if needed. With teenagers, you can work out a timetable for the week together, before you leave them to follow it. Learning how to study on their own is a challenge for all kids at first, but it will serve them well in the future. If they’re stuck, one-to-one online tuition helps troubleshoot.”

What will ease my children’s boredom?

“The flexibility of homeschooling gives everyone the chance to learn something they wouldn’t normally — this could be a language, coding, or a whole new subject. It’s also a chance to teach them some skills which aren’t on the school curriculum, such as cooking, budgeting or anything else you’ve got up your sleeve.”

What can I do for my children’s wellbeing?

“It’s important to strike a balance between giving your child enough structure in the day to keep their learning on track and stop them getting bored, and enough freedom to explore what they enjoy most. Start by having a chat with your child — whatever age they are — and find out if there’s anything they’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t before. They might surprise you! Leave time in their routine for virtual socialising. Talking to friends will help them keep some sense of normality during this challenging time.”


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