While the vast majority of teachers have traditionally preferred to have students in the classroom, a few years ago the entire country got a hands-on experience of exactly what it was like to shift to home learning (even if only temporarily). Since then, the idea of home learning has become less taboo, and arguably far better integrated into the modern world of education than it used to be.
So while most of your students are probably spending the majority of their learning physically present in school, from time to time you may still have some pupils taking their school exercise books back with them to do some learning from home. If so, here are some of the best ways you can help support both your students and their parents.
1. Provide activities for children in a range of formats
Today, digital learning has become more common and widespread than ever, and it was a particular lifesaver for teachers and students during the pandemic. It remains a very useful tool to design your lessons and homework around. However, it’s worth remembering that when it comes to home learning, not every student will have the same level of access to digital assets - children from low-income families might struggle to gain access to laptops, tablets, or even the internet, which in turn can limit their ability to participate in these sorts of tasks.
Conversely, other students might have easy access to digital assets, but for whatever reason may not have quite the same access to common stationery staples, like blue sticks or protractors. During the pandemic, lots of schools circumvented this difficulty with resource pack home deliveries for people in need. Now that lockdown restrictions have long since ended though, you might find that you have the freedom and resources to discuss this with each individual parent of children planning on learning from home.
2. Help parents to encourage self-regulation
One of the main issues associated with learning from home is that lots of parents understandably worry that the responsibility is on them to act as de-facto teachers - a job that requires a lot of patience, skill, and (crucially) time. While that may have been necessary during the various periods of lockdown, thankfully it’s not the case today. Instead, parents can opt to encourage self-regulation for their children, especially older secondary-school age pupils.
Here’s where teachers can help. - you can discuss (and provide guidance with) concepts like goal-setting, planning, perseverance, time management, materials, attentiveness and emotions. That ensures there’s no explicit expectation for parents to assume the role of teachers; by helping children to help themselves, it gives parents more freedom to decide when and how they’d like to get more actively involved (if they even would at all).
3. Suggest teaching principles to parents
Of course, while some parents are happy to let their children steer their own rate of learning, there are others who prefer a slightly more hands-on approach. Thankfully, it’s easy to support parents in this latter group too. In addition to the concepts of self-regulation, you could also talk to them about staple teaching techniques, such as scaffolding, or using quizzes and flashcards for retrieval practice. That way, not only can you help your class to learn effectively, but you can even provide extra opportunities for your students and their parents to come closer together, too.
4. Be open to feedback
Now obviously, there’s a fine balance to strike with this one. On the one hand, you have to trust your own instincts and training as a teacher. On the other hand, it’s the parents who are best positioned to judge the mood, atmosphere, and conduciveness of a home learning environment to their child’s productivity, so it’s worth emphasising (implicitly and sometimes even explicitly) that you’re working in partnership with each parent for the betterment of their child. And while that often means giving advice, sometimes it also means taking it as well. Ultimately, parents want to do the best for their child and in that spirit they’ll want to feel like their concerns are being listened to, so even if you disagree occasionally, make sure to keep an open mind. Sometimes it makes all the difference!
When it comes right down to it, we’ll leave you to choose the best approach. As for us, we’ll stick to doing what we do best - supplying a huge range of school exercise books, personalised exercise books, and supplementary reading material, so that you and your class have everything you need to stay organised, motivated, and productive.
With more than 45 years of experience behind us, we’re top of the class when it comes to producing resources and learning solutions for schools, so you can count on us to provide answers in as much or as little detail as you need. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 686 500!