9 steps to establish a home learning routine

23/03/2020

If you’re reading this right now it’s likely you’re someone who has had home learning quite literally thrust upon them by the current circumstances. It’s new territory for many parents. You’re probably feeling completely lost on where to begin, or simply overwhelmed by the worksheets your child has been sent home with. Our blog post is here to help guide you, and settle your family into a new home routine that incorporates home learning whilst supporting your family through these testing times.

Give yourself a mental break

Most home educators take the time to research different home learning styles & seek advice before taking the plunge. Even then, so many find it a challenge to settle into initially. So take a deep breath and clear those criticising thoughts you’re already having about educating from home. Accept that this will take some time for you to establish. Be reassured in knowing that will not ‘fail’ or ruin your child’s academic future over the coming months. Think back to your own school years. What do you remember? Probably not a great deal! Proving that whatever you do over the coming weeks will not make or break your child’s academic success – so be kind to yourself.

Begin to establish a routine that works for you

Whatever your situation right now, you need to choose a routine that will work well for you & your family dynamic. Drop the 9am until 3pm timetable you’ve mentally planned & if you’ve saved the rainbow coloured home learning timetable floating around the Facebook groups, delete it! Whilst children attend school for these hours, they certainly don’t learn throughout all of them! During the day at school there are so many transitions to consider; settling in on a morning, going out and coming in from break, lunchtime, daily assemblies, getting dressed for PE. Plus actually transitioning between lessons; this takes so much time! Think about it, between lessons teachers have to swap over all of the resources for all 30 children & settle the class back down before even beginning teaching & learning! A couple of hours a day at home is more than adequate time for learning by comparison.

Laura Robinson has been juggling home education with a home run business for 3 years. Here’s an insight into how she manages her day & some advice!

‘I segment my day – we have early mornings for me to sort housework etc, the rest of the morning is home education time. Then in the afternoon they play video games/hide in their rooms whilst I work (I’m lucky, they’re teens so they’re fairly self-sufficient).

You’ll do a better job at both tasks if you give your undivided attention to one demand at a time. If that’s not possible during the week – can your partner/family member take over at the weekend so you can hide for a couple of days and work flat out? It’s not going to be possible to do all of the chores, and paid work you normally do, and give your kids 7 hours of undivided attention every single day. So be realistic about what you can do with the time, energy and resources available to you. And be kind to yourself.’

Expect everyday to be different

Whilst establishing a home learning routine will have its benefits, you do need to manage your expectations. We’re all going through a whirlwind of a time. Last week felt like it was a month long for all of us. The fact remains we are dealing with a pandemic. With all of these changes and uncertainty happening around us, you can’t expect to suddenly pull out a home education routine that works everyday. Some days you are going to feel super productive & proud of all your family achieves. Other days you’re probably going to stick a documentary on for an hour and call that your home education for the day. Both are fine. Both are education. Balance requires us to tip backwards and forwards until we establish our centre.

Don’t compare notes . . .

Everyone will have a differing opinion on what effective home education should look like. You want to know a secret? Teacher’s don’t even agree on how to effectively educate children! Everyone has their own style, plus differing approaches work for different children. For the love of your sanity do not compare notes with your friends and stay away from Facebook. Someone on your ‘friends’ list will post daily competitive updates of the wholesome educational activities she’s doing with her son . . . these are not the kind of people you need to be hearing from. Do whatever works for you and your family and yourself. Do not get drawn into the Parent Educators Olympics – there are no winners there. 

Find a way to signify the start and end of learning time

Your child has most likely become used to the winding up and winding down routines their teacher has had in place at the start and end of the school day. Teachers of young children tend to keep these consistent everyday. They’re like a little signal to the child, your day is done, you will go home soon. 

It is going to be strange for your children to be at home full time so suddenly. Some may be fine at first, feeling as though they’re on school holidays and become less unsure as time progresses. Others may be unsure from the outset. You can help settle them into home learning and signal when it’s starting & ending by keeping a consistent opening & ending activity. 

Here are some gentle, soothing ideas you could implement:

  • Handwriting practise – tracing letters in sand/sensory rice
  • Singing or learning your favourite songs 
  • Circle time- sit in a circle (or a pair if there’s just two of you) recap the best & worst part of your day. This can provide a safe space for your child to share their worries with you too. Or another idea is to pick 3 random house items and make up a silly story about them together!

Let your children lead part of the way!

Children are naturally curious. They’re designed that way – it’s necessary for their survival. Whilst they will require some structure to help them settle into a new routine, see what happens if you give them the time and space to explore what interests them. Wait for them to ask you questions, then give them your full attention as together you find out the answer. Every question, or worry they come to you with is a learning opportunity — whether it’s on the school curriculum or not! 

Use nature to support you

Whatever your situation, keeping children cooped up indoors 24/7 is going to be undeniably hard. Current Government guidance allows us to head outdoors with social distancing measures in place. You’ll be surprised at how much nature you will find even if you live in a city! If you’re not able to venture too far, your own garden and driveways are a perfect place to start. If you need a little inspiration to see how you might use the outdoors to educate your children, take a look at our Instagram for some practical activity ideas!

Expect behaviour to waver

Our children are observing us so closely right now. Even the youngest child can sense something is out of the ordinary. If you expect behaviour blips to occur over the next few weeks, you’ll feel much less caught off guard when they do. Try not to worry over them. Likelihood is your child is just expressing their emotions in ways that we only wish was socially acceptable for us to!

Make time for you

You will need to be kind, patient and generous with your time over the coming weeks. Nobody can do this if they are at the end of their tether. We all get down to the last straw occasionally – but don’t make it your permanent status. Think about what treats, rests, rewards you’ll need to take care of yourself and somehow build them in. Your well-being is so important always, but especially right now.

If you’ve found this blog post useful make sure to follow us on social media (FacebookInstagram & Pinterest) as we’ll be sharing more support for you in establishing your home learning over the coming weeks.

Register for emails!