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5 top tips for home learning

Before reading this blog, we need to understand that every teacher is different, every school is different, every context is different, and everyone has different expectations.  With this in mind, here are 5 tips to help you teach during lockdown.

1. Don’t teach anything new

Schools should see this an opportunity to review previously taught content and focus on consolidating the basics (early number skills, times tables, early reading, etc) and deepening children’s understanding of these. Since the government has disapplied the curriculum, continuing to teach new content can have an adverse effect: some children will not access this content, others will not cover it as thoroughly as in class, while others will not pay attention.  Either way, we risk creating bigger gaps in learning.

2. Manage expectations

Limit core learning opportunities to a few hours each day, to be completed when children have the opportunity.  Try to avoid setting too much work or for it to be delivered at specific times. This is a difficult time for all, and a variety of factors could impact children’s ability to learn: different routines; parents working from home; limited internet access; limited device access; limited device size; etc.  Too much pressure to complete work might have a negative effect on learning at home.

3. Allow fun, open ended and non-curriculum activities 

Many children will want to spend most of the day learning and many parents will want this too.  Give them the opportunities: provide open ended activities, make them fun for children and families, and consider non-curriculum activities too, like helping at home. Once children have practised the core activities, these tasks should continue to engage children and parents – they could even be used as a motivator.

4. Manage yourself

This is a challenging time and it’s important to look after yourself. Many of you will have your own families to look after & various commitments so it’s important to not work all day, every day. Try to be as effective as possible, considering which platforms and activities will have the greatest impact given the time you have available. This is where I’ve found Sumdog to be really useful. I can quickly set personalised practice for my students and I can see the results in real time

5. Subtitles

Turn on subtitles and let children watch TV. There is extensive research to show that subtitles support reading, particularly early reading.  It’s like subconscious learning.  It gives children plenty of opportunity to practise reading without the effort.  Try it yourself – try turning on the subtitles and watching the programme without reading them!  It’s almost impossible!