Help your child learn at home


Millions of parents nationwide have suddenly found themselves in the tricky position of becoming their child’s teacher! Yet research from Oxford Home Schooling (OHS) shows that only a third of parents feel confident helping their children with work at home.

No-one says it’s going to be easy. Greg Smith, director of communications at OHS, says: ‘If you had a hundred home educators in a room, each of them would likely have a different approach. But there are a number of things you can do to get the most out of home schooling.’ Here he offers some advice:

Take breaks

A little experimentation should identify what works best for you and your child. You might find 30-minute blasts followed by10-minute breaks help keep concentration up. Alternatively, you might prefer to work for longer periods at a stretch and then take a longer break.

‘Boring as it might sound, giving your learning a predictable structure and routine does help to make sure you get everything done!’ says Greg.

Remove distractions

‘It’s really hard to focus when the TV’s blaring, the radio’s on or there are other things going on while you’re trying to learn,’ comments Greg. ‘So try to get rid of all the distractions you can.’ Concentrating is easiest when you’re in a quiet place where you feel comfortable, so play around with how your child studies best – sitting or reclining; indoors or out; with lots of light or in a dimmer room.

Divide and rule

It can be difficult to motivate yourself when faced with a really big or difficult task. If your child is finding a piece of work daunting, try to break it down into smaller pieces, planning out the various stages that need completing before you start. This way, you’ll both have a handle on what needs doing next and you’ll get a good sense of progress as you work.

Get a good night’s sleep!

‘It’s an accepted fact that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll find it harder to concentrate, learn and retain information. The trick is pretty simple – get some sleep!’ advises Greg. Most people between the age of five and 11 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, while 11 to 18-year-olds need eight to 10 hours.

Don’t multi task

Greg says: ‘It can be hard to resist the urge to multi-task and try and get lots of jobs done at once. This is best avoided though, as it means you’re dividing up the amount of brainpower you have available to a given task, meaning you might miss out on important bits of information.’ He suggests making sure that neither you, nor your child, tries to do too much at once. When you are working with your child, try not to take phone calls at the same time. Similarly, encourage your child to stay on one task at a time.