Schools shut until March: how to navigate the next 6 weeks of home learning

MyTutor speaks with experts in the field of education to bring parents and children top advice during this time. Nationally representative research shows how 59% of British parents agree their child’s education has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

With Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that schools are to be closed until at least March 8th, the next 6 weeks will feel like a mountain to climb for parents and children who are currently getting to grips with homeschooling. The existing difficulties with access to learning alongside the ambiguity of new assessment measures has left the nation struggling with where to turn for some extra support.

Leading EdTech platform MyTutor hosted an all-encompassing webinar, led by Headteacher Kathryn Hobbs and Psychologist and Child Wellbeing expert Alicia Eaton, revealing some key tips on how parents can help with homeschooling during this time. Both academic and recreational topics are touched upon, including what a parent’s role in home schooling should be, and how to boost motivation when spirits are low.

The full webinar can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/yPxQkO1YfJ0

A common concern amongst parents is that children may not get the grades they deserve in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption to education. In light of this, MyTutor spoke to Marc Naylor, a Teacher Trainer and former Deputy Head, to find out how the nation can prepare themselves for the next 6 weeks of learning from home:

1. Try to keep standards up throughout the year
The most important things are for students to listen to their teachers, email or message them if they’re unsure about anything, and complete all the homework and classwork they get set. Each piece of work a teen completes and sends to their teacher will help them build a picture of the grade they should be awarded in the Summer.

Some teens might feel this adds pressure to each piece of work they do, but really it means your teen has lots of opportunities to prove themselves. If they struggle with a new topic one week, for example, but then work at it and improve by a couple of weeks later, the teacher will be impressed that a student has worked through a challenge, and also have evidence in their later work that they should achieve a higher grade.

2. Engage during lessons
Teachers are looking for genuine engagement during live lessons, and teens should get involved as much as they can. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, just like they would in school lessons. Most tech platforms like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and Zoom let you virtually raise hands to ask questions — teens should use it and wait for the teacher’s response rather than interrupting. If there’s something the student really doesn’t want to say in front of the class, then it’s fine to message the teacher privately about it. It’ll show initiative and engagement (although teaching staff may not be able to give an immediate response), and help them keep up with their learning.

3. Stay motivated
We know this one is easier said than done – we’ve all had to find ways to stay focussed and productive during this time, and it’s difficult! Key elements that help include having a daily structure, having a sense of achievement and having something productive to show for each day. For teens, online school can provide the basis for all of these: the digital timetable offers up the structure for them to follow, they can feel a sense of achievement when they learn something new, and completing the school work means they have something productive that shows engagement with each lesson.

4. Stay connected
As well as seeing their classmates in their remote school lessons, your teen and their friends can help each other by staying connected at this time. They could set up a WhatsApp group where they talk about the work they have to do this week, share online resources and remind each other of upcoming deadlines. Or they could schedule Zoom study sessions with mates where they get on with their work “together” as they might have in a library – this is a nice way to create accountability with each other, and it’ll help fend off isolation too.

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