With almost half of English secondary schools sending children home to self-isolate this month, many parents will once again have to balance homeschooling while still doing their own work.
So how do you balance home education and working from home? Oxford Home Schooling, one of the UK’s leading home education providers, has given its ten top tips on how to do just that.
1. Don’t worry about recreating the full school day
When they’re at school, children aren’t learning from the second they arrive until the hometime bell – they walk between lessons, have breaks and spend time settling into classrooms. So don’t worry about making them work non-stop from 9 to 3:30. One-to-one teaching is more efficient than normal group lessons anyway, so even a couple of hours can be really valuable, and these can fit in around your work.
2. Make use of online resources
A great way to keep your child engaged is to utilise the amazing variety of resources available online. Too much screen time is unhealthy, but technology definitely has a place. The BBC, for example, has recently launched an incredible array of educational content on BBC Bitesize and your child can work through the exercises on their own.
3. Encourage independent learning
This is most relevant for older children, but you simply won’t be able to get your own work done if you are supervising your child all day. Whether you invest in workbooks or make use of content their school sent home with them, find some tasks that your child can complete independently. Check-in occasionally, but trust them to get on with it. This helps with self-sufficiency and time management, while also giving you the opportunity to work.
4. Be in the moment
Quality not quantity is the way forward. When helping your child, you need to be completely focused and in the moment, not answering emails at the same time or checking your phone. Give your child your undivided attention and then you’ll both get the most out of that time. Otherwise you’ll spend longer having to re-explain tasks and answering questions.
5. Help them communicate with their friends
There’s more to school than just work and your child will undoubtedly be missing their friends and the social side of normal life. So help them reconnect by setting up video calls. They can catch up, have a laugh and chat about how they’re finding everything, all while you’re being productive.
6. Share responsibilities
This might not be possible in all households, but if there is more than one person capable of overseeing the homeschooling, take it in turns. Split the day up between you so you each have a few dedicated hours where you can get your own work done.
7. Be flexible
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that there’s no strict time schedule, so there’s nothing forcing you to teach your child during normal school hours. If you work 9-5, maybe teach them for an hour at 8am and then do a couple of hours after you’ve finished. Or perhaps do a couple of hours at lunch and push your work back slightly if possible.
8. Talk to other parents
There are millions of parents in the same boat as you so chat to each other and compare notes. See what’s working for them and share tips on how to make the most out of the situation. They may even be able to virtually supervise your child for a while, before you repay the favour.
9. Make lists
Make a to-do list every day of the things you want to achieve before you go to bed, both homeschooling tasks and your own work. This helps you prioritise throughout the day and ensures you at least get the most important things done for both you and your child.
10. Play to your child’s strengths
Your child is more likely to keep themselves entertained if they are good at the task they are doing. So when setting independent activities, tailor them to their strengths, whether that’s reading, writing or drawing.
Dr Nick Smith, Director at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “Homeschooling is still a relatively new experience for many families and, while the routine will certainly take some getting used to, there are lots of benefits and hopefully our tips show that parents don’t need to sacrifice their own work to help their children learn.”