By Kaitlin Lloyd, Flying Start Tuition
We are sure you will agree – September has flown by! The Flying Start family are settling back into lessons again and we have been busy welcoming our students to their new courses. The classrooms have felt even buzzier than usual for this time of year; pupils and tutors alike are excited to be back in the classroom! Albeit with all necessary precautions and distancing measures in place, of course.
How is your child managing the return to school? They may be feeling a little overwhelmed, and you may be too! There is a great deal of media discussion about how important it is for children to begin ‘catching up’ on missed learning, implying that children who do not spend their evenings wading through mountains of additional work have no hope of regaining lost ground.
In fact, when it comes to learning, quality is far more important than quantity. Hours of doing dull, repetitive work does not equal better or more learning. Quite the opposite! So if you or your child are worried about falling behind, take a deep breath and, instead of cramming more spelling, maths and grammar into the day, make time for you both just to ‘be’.
Now, what steps can you take to ensure the quality of your child’s learning? Here are five key ways to help your child get the most out of their learning.
Children aged between 6 and 13 years need 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night (National Sleep Foundation). While your child sleeps, their brain strengthens the neural connections that form their memories. Getting less sleep than needed can impact your child’s learning, affecting focus and information retention.
A regular bedtime routine, with no gadgets and plenty of relaxation, can help children to sleep better and enjoy all the learning benefits this brings. For more guidance, check out our blog.
Research consistently shows that what children eat for breakfast impacts their academic performance, particularly their ability to process and remember facts. Avoiding blood sugar crashes and spikes is important for mood and concentration. Moreover, some nutrients are especially important for the brain, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. We share some quick and healthy breakfast ideas that will power up your child’s learning here.
It is recommended that children aged 6 and above should get at least one hour of physical exercise a day, and for good reason – exercise is vital for young brains! The flow of oxygen and blood to the brain stimulates the generation and preservation of neurons in the brain and promotes brain plasticity. These processes result in improved concentration, memory and higher thinking; in short, better learning!
If you can’t face any more of Joe Wickes’ bunny hops round the living room, try a kickabout at the park or make the school run by foot or bike. Arriving for the school day with boosted brain blood-flow, or reenergising after school in time for homework, will have a big impact on learning quality.
Did you know that we learn best when we are having fun? Since play is often seen as opposite to formal schooling, many parents are unaware of how beneficial play is to learning. In Finland, children do not begin formal schooling until age 7. Instead, play is encouraged and supported, both as free play and teacher-led activities. Play is recognised for its role in developing language, problem-solving abilities, social skills, creativity and much more. Despite (or perhaps due to?) having a later start to formal education, Finnish pupils have been repeatedly ranked in Pisa tests as some of the highest scorers in maths, science and reading in Europe.
With reference to the current situation, restricting children’s play time in favour of additional work may well do more harm than good. Your child needs space to relax and play so that they can process the day’s learning, plus play allows them to develop skills and resources that a page of sums cannot teach. For tips on how to enhance learning through play, have a look at our blog.
One silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic is the attention it has brought to mental wellbeing, particularly in children and young people. When children are stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, they cannot learn effectively. A sense that they have fallen behind or need to work doubly hard to catch up will damage confidence, cause upset and distract children from the task at hand.
Right now, it is important to support your child as they make the transition back to the classroom. We often talk about the importance of a growth mindset. Approaching schoolwork from this perspective will help your child to tackle challenges without panicking or feeling that they will never ‘catch up’. For tips on how to encourage a growth mindset in your child, see our blog.
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. Classes run throughout the year at their main centre in Chesham and at their satellite centres in Amersham, Berkhamsted, Jordans Village and Little Chalfont.
Flying Start are Ofsted registered and accept Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare. Bursaries are also available – please ask for details.
For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898