Home learning under lockdown
It’s officially the start of the summer term for lots of schools, but with the lockdown extended that means a return to home schooling for most of us.
The novelty of having the kids at home may be wearing off, so we thought it was a good time to ask Murray Morrison, education expert and creator of Tassomai, the fab online learning program for his advice on homeschooling and using technology to help keep children learning under lockdown.
Don’t forget we’re also running an offer from Tassomai that includes savings of up to 75% on courses for younger learners, you can read more about it here.
You’re not a teacher, and that’s okay!
Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: it is not your job to replace your child’s teacher for the duration of the school closure. Parents all over the country are piling on way too much pressure to meet their own expectations of what homeschooling “should” be, while also trying to maintain their day jobs. Whatever you do, don’t be made to feel guilty by the posts you’re seeing on social media from mythical super-mums and dads.
Don’t stress about them falling behind – remember school will cover everything
When children eventually go back to school, their teachers will make it a priority to run over everything from last year, and cover everything that had been planned for teaching during the “lost term”. There’s no new learning that should be happening now that won’t be taught – so there is no pressure on families to be teaching this new content.
Having said that, getting your children to read what the school sends, reading around the subject (and making notes ideally) will be positive – it means that when the material is taught in class, it will be easier to absorb. That’s going to give them a head start when the teaching next year is necessarily compressed.
Use what the school gives you, but make it part of the bigger picture
You will probably have been given an outline of the curriculum to cover, and possibly some worksheets. The temptation may be to blast through them all just to keep your kids busy… Instead, try to make them last, and lower your expectations as to how much time will be spent on actual schoolwork each day.
Encourage your children to do some independent work around their subjects – for older children, that might mean some reading on Wikipedia, for younger children, drawing or craft projects that relate to the topics covered.
Consolidate their knowledge
For older children in particular, now is a great time to get them organised. Encourage them to use this time to look through everything they have done since September 2019 and consolidate their knowledge; by doing this, they will have a major advantage next year.
Regular retrieval practice is proven to be one of the best ways to embed knowledge. Flashcards and quizzes can be made manually, or software like mine is ideal for keeping everything fresh in mind. Tassomai helps students practise knowledge through personalised quizzing while parents can see exactly how much has been done; other softwares teach through videos that track engagement.
Education Technology, or “EdTech” can really be your friend when it comes to getting your kids to study under their own steam: BBC Bitesize has some great learning games for all age groups, and a few minutes browsing YouTube will yield plenty of decent learning channels.
Choose the right technology
There’s a lot of EdTech out there, so my advice to parents is to spend a little time finding the platforms that are best-suited to solving your most pressing needs: you want something that occupies your child’s attention but doesn’t require too much of yours, so you have time to do your own work; you also want products that have a solid evidence base underpinning them, so you can be confident that their use will be beneficial.
Sites like Edtech Impact, Lended and Edtech Evidence Group are a good place to start. They’re angled more towards schools, but they also include relevant information for parents and they’re a great place to read independent product reviews from teachers.
Try to enjoy this time together
Remember, you don’t have to replicate their school education – instead approach this as a time to get them as fit as possible for a disruptive year to follow – and try to enjoy the time together as much as possible.
Anything that involves sustained concentration can help with the development of core learning skills, for example activities like gardening, sketching, sewing, puzzles or model-making. Beyond these, number puzzles, logic puzzles and crosswords can be great for maths skills, memory and vocabulary-building.
If, by the end of this, your child returns to school happy and mentally prepared to learn what comes next, you will have done an amazing job.
About Murray Morrison
Murray has personally taught hundreds if not thousands of students on a one-to-one basis to help them reach their full potential, pass their exams and grasp the process of efficient learning. During Murray’s career he has taught a diverse range of people. From students with learning difficulties, behavioural issues or psychological issues that prevented them from achieving their best, to the children of rock-stars and royalty.
Since 2012, Murray has focused fully on developing Tassomai into a cutting-edge software business. Having created the platform, its algorithms and written the first 60,000 questions as a means to support his own students, the program later became available as a subscription service. In 2013, the platform was seeing over 1000 questions answered daily. Now it is over 1 million each day.