When schools closed in March, parents everywhere were thrown into homeschooling overnight. We’ve seen valiant efforts across the board – from full-time doctors teaching their kids Science GCSE after long shifts, to creative schedules involving off-curriculum histories, international relations and even D.I.Y. skills. In our latest parent survey, we found that a whopping 72% of parents* feel they’ve learned more about their child’s education since the start of lockdown.
Although most parents wouldn’t have chosen to homeschool their kids (whilst working from home and managing the household!) for the past three months, understanding more about how their child learns and where they need more help has been a welcome surprise for many too. So when schools do eventually go back, what new lessons will parents be taking with them along the way?
Seeing their kids learn at home has shown parents lots of what normally goes on at school. Struggles with Maths, learning gaps in History or a fear of French may have been easier for kids to underplay previously, but when you’re supervising their home learning, there’s nowhere to hide.
Although kids can feel embarrassed that they’re not finding everything easy, knowing where they need extra help is the first step to finding a solution. Whether that’s prioritising problem subjects in their weekly timetable, asking for extra help from their teacher or booking weekly lessons with an online tutor, tackling tricky topics will let them fill in learning gaps and keep progressing.
“Working with my son has enabled me to see where his strengths are and where he struggles more”
Classroom learning is the core of most teens’ education, but it tends to be one-size-fits-all. Homeschooling isn’t easy, but it can allow kids to learn in a way that really matches how they actually absorb knowledge. If they’re a visual learner, for example, that could mean drawing diagrams of cell structure in Biology, or creating a timeline of key events for History. Or if they’re an audial learner, finding audiobooks and podcasts on the topics they’re studying can work best for them. You can read more about the seven learning styles and work out what fits your child best (if you haven’t already) in our previous blog on the subject.
The usual school day – from 8.45am to 3.30pm – fits well into most parents’ regular working days (it’s nice to have breakfast and dinner together after all). For growing teens though, it’s often been thought that they should actually start their day later than this. And for lots of families since lockdown, the flexibility of homeschooling has given them the chance to schedule studying at a time when they’ll get the most out of them i.e. when they’re wide awake. Some parents have said they’ve gone for a late-morning start each day; others have focused on academic studies in the morning, followed by creative, practical or outside projects after lunch.
After keeping on track of core subjects, learning at home has given lots of parents the freedom to teach off-curriculum subjects that match their teens’ passions. One mum of four told us how she’d created an extensive (and inspiring) home curriculum of Black History, reaching from the earliest Black Britons in Roman times, through to US Civil Rights, recent UK Politics and finishing nicely on Stormzy. Another mum knows that her daughter wants to be a vet, so they’ve taught her how to look after animals (it helps that they live on a farm), taking more responsibility as she learns.
For parents who aren’t experts in what their child wants to pursue, our online tutors can double up as coaches; so if a teen knows they want to be a doctor, they can talk to a medical student about what their course is like and get advice on how they can prepare for applying for medicine.
Parents everywhere will of course be glad when schools can safely reopen, and kids can go about catching up on any learning loss (64% parents** feel that their child has developed new learning gaps since the start of lockdown). But this extra involvement in their kids’ education and the lessons parents have learned from homeschooling will stick with them – and their kids – in the long run.
** Statistics from a survey of 509 parents in June 2020
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