Navigating Home Study – How to Support Your Child During Quarantine
In the current climate surrounding Covid-19, it is understandable that both students and parents should be worried about the uncertain state of academia. For most parents, the closure of schools has raised worries about how to support children who are studying at home, keep them interested in learning and not see them fall behind due to a lack of resources. This article offers some simple steps you can follow to help boost your child’s success and support their education as best you can at home.
Start a conversation
First and foremost, it is important to understand how your child is feeling. In the same way that you may be currently feeling anxious, your child is bound to also be taking a hit from being separated from their friends, teachers’ support and the comfort of the classroom. Sit down with your child and give them space to air their concerns, ask any questions, or even just vent their frustrations. This is a confusing time for everyone, so it is important now more than ever that your child knows that they are not alone. By providing a space where they are listened to, you will establish yourself as a trusted person to rely on for support during this time, which will make communication about their education much easier in the long run.
Secondly, there is an important educational lesson to be had in your child learning that it is okay to struggle. Many children, particularly those who were working hard to sit exams, may be feeling a strong sense of failure or deflation in this significant setback. Let them know that difficulties are a natural part of life and that failure is not really failure if it’s part of their journey on the path to accomplishing their goals. A handy way of approaching this could be to talk about your own past struggles and setbacks in life, whether that was failing a test or a bad experience with a job interview, and explaining how you learnt and developed from them. Help them gain perspective that this is not the end of the world, just a small stumbling block in a larger journey to success.
Provide a suitable study space
One of the benefits of school education is that it provides a sense of routine for your child. With this routine suddenly being taken away, it is natural that your child could be feeling quite lost. To help them, reintroduce routine into their lives by enforcing a set bedtime on ‘school nights’ and timetabling out their study day. Not only will creating structure make tasks seem more manageable, but also it combats the sense of uncertainty by giving your child a plan to look forward to. Crucially, make sure your child has a designated space to work in, preferably one that is separate from the area of the house where they would usually go to relax. Not only does this separation emulate a ‘home/school’ divide, but will help them get into the right mindset for work. It is also important to make the work space an enjoyable place to be. Encourage your child to get creative in making decorations, study posters and colourful mind maps. By making their study space as pleasant as it can be, chances are your child will be less opposed to spending time there!
Encourage activities that foster learning
With the inability to go outside, it can be very easy for study breaks to fall into the monotonous pattern of your child being stuck behind a screen. Whilst mobiles and social media are great tools for your child to stay connected to their friends during this separated period, why not switch up the routine by taking advantage of the opportunity to try new hobbies as well!
Study after study has shown that reading is not just great for expanding a child’s vocabulary and cultural outlook, but is also a crucial factor in improving academic performance across all subjects (for more on this and an author’s advice, check out this article). Encourage your child to explore their specific interests by picking up a book; not only will it provide escapism from the indoors but even in the most fictional of fantasies there’s plenty for your child to learn!
Alternatively, you could encourage your child to choose an online course on a topic that interests them. When choosing between online courses, the important thing is to find one with a live element. There are many courses available to buy which are bundles of videos and resources, but without a live engagement element, your child may struggle to stay focused, especially during this time of disruption and uncertainty.
For more family based activities, try teaching your child games such as chess. Chess develops important life skills such as problem solving, logic and strategy in a fun and connected way, allowing you and your child to stimulate your brains whilst combating isolation by spending time together. If your child spends a lot of time cooped up with their earphones in, why not encourage them to learn an instrument? Quarantine can offer a valuable time to try something fun and new, whilst still developing important skills and keeping the brain active, so give your child the freedom to explore their talents.
Tip: have a conversation with your child about reducing social media access. It is important and natural that they will want to spend time plugged in talking to their friends, but too much exposure can be detrimental to their focus and education. Listen to your child’s perspective and negotiate a balance that works for both of you!
Make what they are studying feel relevant
It is easy to fall into the trap of hopelessness in the current situation, particularly for a child who may not have experienced hardship before. Consequently, usual questions such as “why does algebra even matter?” are going to be amplified and the slippery slope to educational disengagement will begin. Helping your child see the bigger picture will not only encourage them to view their school work with the same amount of importance in the current climate, but also will give them something to look forward to. For example, if you are helping them with maths homework, slip in an anecdote about how maths was important to your teenage part-time job working behind a till. Studying Philosophy or Religious Studies? Tell them a story about a time you had to make an important ethical decision.
Promote the concept of transferable skills and be open about how you use them within your own job. Encouraging your child to think of their own future and aspirations will help to navigate the conversation on what is important to them and how the skills they are currently learning will help them achieve later down the line.
Follow their lead
As you will already know, every child is unique, and their learning styles are no different. Use this as an opportunity to try and figure out how your child learns best. Chances are, your child will already have a good idea of what subjects they love and which they hate. If they love PE, but hate English, they are probably more of an active learner. Therefore, try and incorporate more action into English lessons by encouraging your child to act out scenes and create learning aids to optimise their understanding. Vice versa, if they love English and hate PE, try and make lessons more theory-based, with reading resources to help explain concepts they are struggling with. Helping your child understand and explore their learning style will not only make home study more enjoyable, but boost their chances of success!
- Have an open and reassuring conversation where they have the opportunity to air their worries and questions.
- Make clear that setbacks are a natural part of the path to success.
- Provide them a designated study space and routine to maintain home/work balance.
- Encourage them to pursue their interests and keep stimulated by trying new hobbies.
- Give them a sense of the bigger picture and explain how what they are studying is relevant.
- Discover and tailor their study around their unique learning style.
- Recommend that your child checks out our ‘Five Tips for Productive Study at Home’ for more specific information and advice
- For more on how we can harness the power of psychology for success, read this article from our blog
- For more on how students can be supported to build careers that matter, check out this article from our blog
Online Courses For Teenagers
Are you looking for enriching educational activities for your child? Read more about our virtual summer school, Oxford Scholastica Online – a selection of project-based courses designed to allow your child to get the Oxford experience, from anywhere.