Helping your child with remote learning
Likely asked questions and answers for parents
Many parents will have already developed your own routines and strategies for supporting your child with remote learning at home, however we know that keeping your children motivated and focused, whilst juggling your own work and family commitments can be immensely difficult and tough. Consequently, we have put together some likely asked questions. None of this guidance is necessarily ground-breaking, however we hope that our suggestions and things to try may be helpful to some families.
My child won’t stick to the schedule; what can I do?
Although we are providing scheduled learning, which is effective for many children, we know that some find it hard to commit to a provided schedule when they are not in school. It may be that these children need a routine, not a schedule.
A routine is a regular procedure, for example doing English after breakfast every day, then maths after that. This does not put a definite end time, or ‘you have to finish it by…’ pressure onto the day, but an established and agreed expectation of what will happen.
Things to try:
- Make a routine that works for everyone and fits your circumstances at home, and where possible try to keep it the same each day.
- Identify, preferably together, the ‘must-do’ items for the days learning.
- Registration is an important part of this routine every morning: If your child is not registered by 10am then the office will contact you.
- Research shows that students will work hard when expectations are clear – try using a timer for how long to spend/is left on tasks. Also model the consistency as much as possible yourself – be consistent in reacting to broken rules and unmet goals (no matter how hard it is to muster those loving words after the ninth interruption…!).
- Identify the start of a learning day; registration, setting up the learning space, sharing a particular activity. This should be as regular as possible each day.
- Cover what you can, try not to worry about what you miss out.
- Encourage your children to take regular exercise breaks and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Some parents have let class teachers know that their child finds it helpful to wear their school uniform when working at home; it has helped with structure and routine.
How can I provide an environment conducive to learning?
In order to support your child to stick to your agreed routines, a suitable learning environment will be essential. However, this is not always easy! If they are too isolated, it’s difficult to check in with them and they may not work independently. If they are at the kitchen table, depending on the child or their environment, they may be too distracted. This is even more challenging when everyone is home and the house is full.
Things to try:
- Find a dedicated space for their learning that, where possible, remains consistent each day.
- Make sure the space is visible enough for you to ensure your child is safe online.
- Make sure they have any materials necessary to complete all tasks/assignments.
Whether this is stationery, exercise books, Wi-Fi connection, log-in information for all accounts - whatever they need to get the work done.
- Ask us if you need any resources or equipment so we can help.
My child doesn’t take remote learning seriously and lacks any motivation to complete learning; how can I help?
Initially, your own attitude and approach to remote learning will have the largest impact on your child’s motivation. Be positive, clear and consistent with your expectations. Believe in your child, and also yourself – you are doing great!
According to the age of your child, you might want to discuss how continued efforts will contribute to future learning and future aspirations. Thinking about how their friends are also learning remotely at the same time, like an unspoken contract between children in the same class who accept that to be part of the whole class.
One challenge for parents is identifying when children really are ‘stuck fast’ as opposed to not wanting to do the work, or genuinely feeling unwell. Some children may even feel demotivated and disheartened generally, because of the circumstances outside of home. In the first case, parental intuition is the answer. In the second, reassurance, incentive or confidence building might be needed.
Things to try:
- Take an interest in their work by asking them questions about what they have done.
- Praise them for the effort they put into their work.
- Celebrate successful pieces with friends, family and school – we love to hear about great effort and learning!
- Build in small rewards for completion of challenging tasks, this can be as simple as sitting for 15 minutes snuggled up with you on the sofa.
- Encourage sharing the plans and completed work with friends and your child’s class teacher.
- Keep in contact with your child’s class teacher. If your child is struggling then their teacher can call them to support and encourage them.
- If tasks are creating conflict, leave them. Still be clear that the time must be spent learning, but focus on reading, or other tasks that involve talk/play elements of learning; perhaps bake a cake, make a model.
- Build their motivation over time if you are struggling. Create feelings of success with small daily challenges, such as registering and a daily maths lesson, then build on this positive feeling to increase expectations.
- You could create a celebration area/wall where your child can choose their favourite pieces of learning to display (sometimes this is the fridge!).
I’m not a teacher – I really don’t know what to do! How do I do this?
Please simply try your best to support your child with their learning, perhaps see it not as trying to teach them (videos, presentations and conversations with school staff are there for that), but helping them to understand.
Have confidence in what you think will be the right thing to do for your child. Maintaining a consistent routine and expectations is essential, however you know your child best and can adapt each day according to their needs, such as the quantity of work produced, screen time, breaks, time spent working independently or even the nature of the task. Teachers plan work at the start of the day and rarely teach it precisely as was planned due to responding to the childrens’ changing needs.
Things to try:
- Keep it as simple as you can.
- Share the pupil guide ‘How can I be successful at remote learning?’ with your child. Read through it and discuss together, this will provide both you and your child with some shared expectations.
- Ask your child’s class teacher to support with clarifying an objective or task, or with explaining a skill in more detail.
- Be honest with your child. If you don’t understand, that is okay. In school we often let children know we don’t have the answer and will need to find out. This is such an important part of their learning, that adults don’t have all the answers!
- If something captures your child’s imagination – run with it! If they are absorbed in their English, let them enjoy that learning.
- Stay as positive as you can – it will not all go smoothly. Learning never does!
You are setting too much work/there is not enough work for my child! How do I find a balance?
As a school we are trying to provide a match between what is learnt in school, and what is learnt remotely. This means not only the content, but also the quantity of work set will be similar.
The DfE have made it clear in their guidance that:
‘The remote education provided should be equivalent in length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school. The amount of remote education provided should be, as a minimum:
• Key Stage 1: 3 hours a day on average across the cohort, with less for younger children
• Key Stage 2: 4 hours a day’
However, whilst we expect children to attend registration, so that we know they are safe and well, we really do think that if a child has made a good effort, again, we entirely respect parental judgement as to when ‘enough is enough’. Your child’s class teacher is here for you to discuss what they should be able to achieve, and listen to what they are currently achieving, to find a good balance of expectations for them.
I am working at home; how can I find enough time to support my child?
Primary Education has moved away from long teacher inputs followed by short outputs from children, and although activities may be shorter and more frequent for younger children, the expectation for independent learning, where the answers have not all been provided up front, is there for all children.
The learning might not even start with an input, with children expected to lead their learning from the very outset of the lesson, applying earlier learning and seeking help only at points where there is genuine difficulty- for example, new knowledge is required to progress further; this is often addressed through verbal or written feedback. In other words, have a go first, get taught later.
Alongside this must be an agreed culture of acceptance of error so that children don’t simply stop trying because they are worried about ‘getting it wrong’. Learning resilience, tenacity and trust in their own creativity when faced with difficulty is far more important than being taught any specific knowledge or skill, as it can be used time and again in all contexts.
Things to try:
- Stay positive. Your child will look to you to figure out how to react – if you seem defeated, angry or apathetic about remote learning, so will your child. If your child feels more positive, they are likely to be more motivated.
- Establish clear routines and expectations so you and your child are clear about what you both need to do.
- Set small challenges for your child to see how long they can go without needing help. This can increase over time and can be a moving target for them.
- Create a workspace for your child that remains consistent (see section above).
- Play to your and your child’s strengths. If maths is their strength, prioritise independent learning and time for them during that time. If you find a topic more challenging you will find it harder to juggle supporting your child with that and your own workload, save these for another time when you can give enough of your attention.
- If your child is struggling and you cannot help at that moment, let them take a break and do something different. When things feel calmer, come back to the task together if you can.
- Celebrate when your child has persevered without your support - getting lots of praise will help them see the benefit of extra effort.
- Let your child’s teacher know if you are struggling. They can offer ideas, suggestions and ways we can help.
What if it’s all a bit too much?
If all else fails - please keep up their reading, writing and key maths skills.
Things to try:
- Encourage them to read every day, even if it is only a little.
- Aim to provide a quiet space to read; give regular encouragement and as much access to reading material as possible.
- Let us know if you require reading books – we can support with accessing the e-Platform or providing real books.
- Taking an interest in what your child is reading by asking them questions aids their motivation and understanding.
- When your child writes, initially focus on the writing goals of the piece (learning objectives such as adjectives).
- If they have worked independently, take some time to review it together. This allows your child to read their work aloud and make changes that will improve it.
- In maths, encourage your child to read and think carefully about the question.
- Revisit material from previous lessons to help consolidate learning and build confidence.
- Practise basic skills, like times tables and number bonds. This will support more complex maths learning later on. Programmes such as Times Tales Rock Stars, Numbots, Mathletics and Education City are great for this.
- Praising effort makes children feel achievement in maths is within their grasp – stay positive!
How can I look after my child’s wellbeing?
Things to try:
- Listen to their concerns – you don’t have to know all the answers!
- Encourage them to talk regularly with friends and family.
- Get them to spend time away from screens e.g. paint, bake, write.
- If you feel yourself constantly ‘nagging’, stop chastising and choose an activity to re-establish your supportive and loving relationship with your child. Then come back to the expectations for learning.
- Contact your child’s class teacher for guidance and support
- Try not to over-emphasize ‘getting everything done’ over well-being (not to mention creative genius and curiosity and intrinsic motivation) of your child.
- Remember the ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’ –
- Connect with other people.
- Be physically active.
- Learn new skills.
- Give to others.
- Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness).
Further information/helpful websites:
Supporting routines: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/videos/EEF_Supporting_daily_routines_during_school_closures.mp4