By Kaitlin Lloyd and Sian Goodspeed, Flying Start Tuition

Here we go again! The return of lockdown and home-schooling. Whilst most families are feeling better prepared this time around, those who have had home-schooling thrust upon them once more may well be feeling a familiar mixture of alarm, frustration and overwhelm. Balancing working from home with the demands of family is difficult as it is; adding in responsibility for your child’s education may make the juggling act feel impossible! 

Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure that the responsibility does not fall solely to you. Here are our top tips to help guide you through the home-schooling experience whilst remaining relatively sane! 

Set up a household schedule

A daily schedule can be particularly helpful if you are juggling work and / or have more than one child to support. Keep it loose and not too prescriptive – anything too detailed may be setting you all up for a fail! Add in key tasks and approximate timings and be realistic about how long each task will actually take. Key tasks could include:

· Preparing food, eating and clearing up

· Outside time

· Parent guided learning time

· Independent learning time

· Free time

· Family time

· Household tasks

The amount of time you allocate to the above will vary according to your individual circumstances. It may be that your child’s school is running online lessons and, if so, they may be able to access these without your support. If that is the case, then you can schedule your time to take place whilst they are occupied. On the other hand, you may need to sit with your child and/or support them during the online lessons and/or with offline tasks which will have a big impact on how you manage your own time. The most important thing to remember is to be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t worry if things don’t go to plan. The main priority is to stay well and happy and this starts with being kind to yourself. 

Prioritise well-being

When there is so much to fit into each day, it can be easy to skip meals, forget exercise and to slip into a negative mindset. Regular, well-balanced meals, fresh air and exercise are vital for physical and emotional well-being – both for you and your child. It’s also important to take time to relax, have fun and connect with family and friends. Plan this time into your schedule and it is far more likely to happen. 

Encourage your child to take responsibility 

Taking responsibility for their own learning has many benefits for children, including greater independence and resilience. Additionally, it is invaluable in giving your child a sense of control at a time when life feels regimented and restricted, whilst freeing you up to use your time and energy more effectively. One way to achieve this is by supporting your child in setting up their own daily learning timetable, helping them to prioritise and decide which tasks they will do when. 

Each morning, review the timetable together and discuss when your child might need you on hand to help and when you can have an uninterrupted hour or so. Make a note of any times that you cannot be disturbed (e.g. during your 10.00 am Zoom meeting) and have some activities on standby that your child can do independently if they get stuck whilst you are unavailable – ready-printed worksheets, a reading book or word puzzles are good options. 

The extent to which your child can set their own timetable will, of course, depend on their school’s approach to remote learning. Whatever the school is providing, your child may still need you on hand to support them at different points in the day so a daily timetable review is a worthwhile exercise.

Set realistic expectations

The amount of work being set by teachers may feel overwhelming! Rest assured that your child will not be expected to compete all of it. Teachers are aiming to provide enough to occupy pupils of all abilities and levels of enthusiasm. Your child should complete as much of it as you and they feel is sufficient for them to feel engaged and healthily challenged, but not exhausted and frustrated. Bear in mind that this will vary from day to day – and that is fine! Go with the flow and, if you feel lost in a jumble of worksheets, ask your child’s teacher what would be useful for them to prioritise. 

Engage with a community

As we become more and more used to distancing and staying safely tucked within our homes, it can be easy to become emotionally isolated, as well as physically. Remember, you are not alone! Online groups are incredible resources for home-schooling parents, offering a place to ask questions, get advice or simply share a few supportive words. Check out our Facebook group, Home Schooling Survival Tips for Parents, where you will find a welcoming community with plenty of wisdom to share!

Share the load

If there are other adults in the household who are able to help out, then play to your strengths. If you are a numbers whizz but your partner is the better speller, take the lead on maths and leave the English to them! Perhaps an older sibling could help out too. This approach will also help you to divide your time between children if you have more than one.

Teaming up with friends is another great way to share the load! Why not gather a few friends together and get set up with Flying Start’s Lockdown Online School? It is an affordable way to gain some expert input whilst letting you enjoy a little downtime. Group learning is fun and interactive, giving your child a much-needed change of pace and time with peers. 

Need a little help? Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition centre offering classes for children from year one through to GCSEs, including their popular Eleven Plus programmes. All our term-time lessons are currently running online. Live lessons are led by experienced tutors and take place in virtual classrooms where tutors and students interact via camera and microphones, see resources on the virtual whiteboard and take part in quizzes and learning games. The experience is designed to be just like a real classroom – but online!

For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898