We send our children to school because of the professionalism and expertise of teachers, and many of us as parents do not have the experience, the expertise, and the motivational skills of many teachers. Not every child wants to learn the precious knowledge we want them to learn at school, and this of course will be all the more difficult at home.
Right now, it is close to school holidays so some of the pressure needs to be off trying to replace teachers – and this is compounded as most kids learn in groups, many go to schools to be with their peers, and this is harder at home.
Consolidate Prior Learning
The key for families is to make learning at home enjoyable and challenging but never cross the line to surveillance and negatives. One of the factors that make school life possible is routine – so yes, a specific time each day to stop and start is worthwhile, but the key for the first few weeks is to consolidate learning that the students have already been exposed to – get your kids to write out all the learning they have been doing in the past few weeks; and revisit this. It is most valuable to “over learn” some of the basics, so that later they are able to access deeper learning more quickly.
Take on Passion Projects
Also, tap into your kids’ passion projects – what turns your kids on – and go deeper; no matter whether it is superheroes (what makes one, can they make their own, etc.), animals or whatever – the aim is to go deeper and do it in groups – either with you, or use Zoom to do some collective projects with friends. Learning is rarely an isolated solo activity.
Model Productive Struggle
Some kids struggle to learn, and this is a time to turn the word struggle on its head and embrace the struggle. Show them that you too struggle to learn, and that failure and errors are opportunities to learn. Now is a good time to listen to your child (and them to you) as to how you go about learning, what you do when you do not know what to do, and celebrate the missed opportunities, errors, and mistakes as key steps in the successful learning process. Often at school, kids do not verbalize aloud how they think – and remember you are not there to give answers, but to fail together and learn from this. Parents can be powerful role models in how they handle mistakes, and errors and this is so powerful when it is a positive experience.
Make Learning Enjoyable
Most of all, make learning enjoyable – the struggle of learning, then the AHA moment, the pride in knowing and understanding need to be celebrated, shared, and noted. Talk at dinner about the learning – what was hard, how they overcame, what was the AHA moment today – and move away from the “what did you do” discussions which reward completion and finishing rather than learning.
Lastly, try to make any learning not isolating – that is the death knell for many kids.
There is so much on the Internet, but this is not the issue – it is learning together, going deeper, making friends while learning, making friends with learning – that is what matters. There is no need for too many hours a day on school-like tasks – a hour or so of fun learning is much better than the drag and numbness of 9-3.