So much for the new year being a fresh start! Just a few days into 2021 and a lockdown with school closures has happened. Having the kids home, while covid safe, isn’t ideal for any parent, but at least this time we all have learnings from homeschooling in 2020, right?
Well, whether you feel like an honorary teacher, or if this homeschooling thing is just one big headache, we’re here to offer you expertise and support to help keep your teen’s education right on track. To start off, setting up a sound homeschooling environment and a routine for your teen is key. Take a look at our 6 tips for creating a home learning environment that will stop learning gaps in their tracks.
1. Set up a space
The first thing to organise is a desk in a quiet corner of the house. Here your teen can keep their laptop, textbooks and notes – they’ll find it much easier to focus and the rest of the family can continue life as normal. Also, schools normally provide things like flashcards, exercise books and planners, so be ready to supply these yourself if necessary.
2. Contact their teachers
Your teen’s teacher should be their first port of call to find out what they should be learning in the next couple of weeks. Schools have different ways of communicating with their pupils and parents, so whether it’s email, Google classroom or a schools app, make sure you and your teen keep an eye out. Your teen can also contact teachers themselves to let them know any queries or worries they have with a specific subject or topic.
3. Keep healthy screen and social media habits
Teens spend a lot of time on apps speaking with their friends anyway – and isolation will only increase their desire to communicate socially. While some communication will be positive for their mental health, the opposite is true when social media fuels feelings of isolation and anxiety. You’ll need to set some ground rules for how phones are used during the day, and keep an eye on your child’s mood.
4. Help them structure their days
Without the structure of the school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a dive. Help your child set up a timetable that’ll work for them and covers the subjects they need. Divide up periods of study with active breaks. Make sure your child moves, goes outside, eats meals at the appropriate times and has offline conversations.
5. Find some online learning resources
You’re likely to run into situations where your child doesn’t understand some of their course content and you’re unable to help. In these situations, having some resources ready is wise. Look up the subject specifications for the exam boards your child is studying and bookmark any online resources that can help you out. We have lots of free online study resources for kids to use – 10,000 answers for GCSE, A Level and IB questions to be precise! Save My Exams and S-cool are also great resources for marking schemes and past papers.
6. Find personalised support
Self-study is an incredibly hard skill to master and secondary school pupils may struggle without someone actively explaining concepts to them. It’s worth finding an online tutor who can help your child fill in any gaps in their knowledge. At MyTutor we offer one-to-one tuition at GCSE, A Level and IB. Our handpicked tutors give personalised learning in over 40 subjects including online english lessons, online maths lessons and online science lessons. It really works too, and we see on average a whole grade’s improvement in 12 lessons.
Online lessons are like having a face-to-face Zoom call with a tutor but with an interactive whiteboard on the screen too so students can upload documents and make notes. A tutor can keep students on track with the syllabus and give them a much-needed boost of confidence in what is a confusing and challenging time.
7. Keep an extra eye on their mental health
We all know this has been a challenging past 9 months for teens and parents, and it’s as important as ever to look out for signs that your child is struggling with their mental health. Despondency and withdrawal or anger and higher-than-usual levels of irritability can all point to stress. Make sure they make plenty of time to relax and unwind each day, and leave time each day to have a chat and check in with how they’re feeling. There are also lots of great services you can call on for support such as Kooth and YoungMinds.
Online learning resources for secondary level
MyTutor Answers has over 10,000 model exam questions at GCSE, A Level and IB, with answers written by our expert tutors. Your teen can find what they need and use them to study whenever suits them.
MyTutor’s YouTube channel has hundreds of short explainer videos and recorded group tutorials to help your teen in Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This is particularly helpful if they like to learn by having things explained to them verbally – and it’s of course all on-demand.
Khan Academy is a comprehensive source of online activities and explainer videos for secondary level kids. It’s known for its Maths resources, but it also has a great range of English, Art, Science and Languages learning material.
BBC Bitesize has a huge library of resources categorised by level, exam board, subject and module so your teen can find exactly what they need help with. Once they’ve had a read of the resources, they can then practice their skills with interactive quizzes to make sure it all sinks in.
S-Cool is another great resource for hundreds of written resources for every subject at GCSE and A Level, with quizzes and practice questions to help your child keep on track and ready for school next year.
SaveMyExams has lots of practice exam papers and other exam prep resources – even though your child’s exams will have been cancelled if they were this year, practicing exam questions will help them keep to the right standard to move into a higher level when they return to exam prep.
EdPlace has thousands of interactive activities from Primary to GCSE level to keep your child learning, and they’ve got an app too.
Online learning resources for primary level
Twinkl is an excellent library of teacher-made worksheets, lesson plans and learning games for Maths, English and Science.
CBeebies Games – it’s amazing how much children can learn through play, and for children up to the age of 6, CBeebies have an excellent range of educational games. From counting and literacy to creativity and music, your child can have loads of fun and keep their core learning going at the same time. For slightly older children, CBBC games are great too!
TedEd is a great source of high quality educational videos spanning hundreds of subjects, from History, to riddles, to Science, Psychology and talks from inspiring people.
Audible Stories – let’s not forget the value of stories. They’ve got over seven age categories, from toddlers all the way up to teens, and hundreds of titles to choose from.
DK Find Out is a great resource from one of the best-known providers of children’s learning resources. Your child can stay entertained and engaged learning about space, nature, Science, other cultures and more.