Tips for Parents and Guardians on How to Support Learning from Home
Learning from home looks very different from learning in the classroom. Your child will benefit greatly from your love, support, patience, and grace as they navigate this new experience and new way of learning. Below are a few tips to help you support your child’s learning while schools are closed.
Develop a predictable, daily routine. Having a predictable, daily routine in which to work and learn will help your child get used to learning from home. Be clear about your family’s daily time commitments and plan a schedule for your child to follow. The schedule will largely depend on your family dynamics and your child’s personal needs.
As you develop your child’s schedule:
- Ask them about a typical school day.
- Consider their ability to stay focused and how long they can reasonably devote their full attention to a task.
- Include times for lunch and stretch breaks and nutrition breaks. Keep these times consistent throughout the week if possible.
- Allow your child to work and learn at a comfortable pace.
- Reach out to your child’s teacher if you have questions or need some guidance.
- Make adjustments to the schedule as needed and help your child stick to the new, revised routine.
Make time during the day for students to learn from life and to explore their interests. It is perfectly okay not to spend six hours a day on academics during the school closures. There is much that students can learn from books and academic lessons, but there is also much that students can learn informally from their surroundings and from connecting with others. We encourage you to make plenty of time for students to learn important life lessons by talking to a family member who lived through major life-changing events (e.g. World War II), by observing their surroundings, by reading magazine articles, etc. Also, give your students permission to study and learn about things that they are interested in that may not be about a lesson they are learning in class.
Create an at-home learning space. If possible, identify an at-home learning space for your child. Ideally, this space should have good lighting and ready access to learning materials and tools. A dedicated learning space should be ideally located in a shared area of your home such as the kitchen table or a desk in the living room because it allows parents and guardians to readily support learning while also monitoring online activity. Additionally, when the learning space is separate from the child’s bedroom and distanced from the television, it sets the expectation and tone that the space is for learning and not play.
Provide learning materials and tools. Have learning materials and tools easily accessible for your child. Having to stop and look for materials and tools can disrupt the child’s learning. If possible, provide your child with tubs, placed in the child’s learning space, that includes paper, pencils, pens, calculator, ruler, compass, counters (e.g. dry beans or other items to support math), composition notebooks, a technology device (phone, iPad, or laptop).
Create a support network for unique circumstances. Parents, guardians and caregivers are encouraged to think about ways they can support one another. Everyone is encouraged to ask themselves:
- Who in the neighborhood might be able to look after several families’ children in case of an emergency?
- Who in the neighborhood is really “tech savvy” and willing to help others how to use online tools?
- How might older siblings and students be able to support the learning of younger children?
- In what ways can neighbors and friendship groups share technology tools?
Give yourself plenty of grace. Supporting your child as he or she learns outside the four walls of the classroom can feel overwhelming, stressful, and frustrating. You may feel incompetent, inadequate, and ill prepared to provide support to your child. It is completely normal to feel this way, and many other parents may feel the same way as you. Please give yourself plenty of grace during this trying time and do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher if you need assistance or guidance. We are all in this together!