Positive Pointers for Homeschooling During Lockdown
· This is a golden opportunity to nurture responsible, self-reflective learning. An awareness of metacognition develops confident, resilient students. In essence, metacognition is knowing about knowing. It requires us to think about how we learn and create an environment that suits us and enhances our ability to study. Do you work best with noise or silence? When do you learn most effectively? How do you learn most effectively? Encourage children to think about this and take responsibility for their learning.
· Work with children rather than telling them what to do. Again, this encourages greater responsibility in a society which has become spoon-fed. Push your children to think for themselves and create their own solutions. They will need to be led here but by empowering them to come up with their own answers, their confidence will blossom, and they will be more likely to take on greater challenges.
· It is difficult for everyone to work successfully under one roof – be creative! How can you work effectively, while also keeping an eye on what your children are up to? Trust in them is essential and so is holding them accountable. Over lunch and supper ask them to share with you what they have learnt today and get them to teach you. Not only will this reinforce their learning, but it will provide a measure that they know they have to work to each day.
· Set a designated hour aside each day to allow them to use social media etc. Ensure that all devices are taken away an hour before bedtime.
· Keep to the same routine as you would whilst at school but feel grateful for the additional time you now have due to the lack of travel. Use this time positively – longer conversations at breakfast, additional time to read, a time for meditation.
· Demonstrate to your children how to balance working at home with new distractions. Put Saturday mornings aside to clean the house and do the washing etc. and try not to incorporate these activities into your working weekday. If you are able to follow effective time management, your children will recognise the structure and follow suit.
· While A Level, IB and GCSE exams having all been cancelled, the level of knowledge that is expected from students at their next stage, remains the same. If students give up working now and do not continue with revision to attain a solid knowledge base in their subjects, they will start sixth form / university at a disadvantage to their predecessors. The pressure may have been lifted, but the work very much still needs to be done.
· Motivation – this is particularly relevant to those who have had public exams cancelled. Unless we know what we’re working for, who we want to become and what we want to achieve, it can be very difficult to sustain focus and motivate ourselves. As an effusive proponent of adolescents having access to the coaching space, I am encouraging students to use this time to reflect on who they want to be. Brainstorming can be a fun way to outline these thoughts. Students should pin this up somewhere they can regularly see it. They can add to this and refine it as they wish but by always remembering where it is they want to go, they will remember why they need to put the hard work in now.
· Forming new habits – be kind to yourself. We are creatures of habit. Forming new habits requires new neural pathways to be created. This can be an arduous task and it takes time for new behaviours to become habitual. With this in mind, be kind and gentle with yourself and your children. We are all adapting to new ways of life, so do not expect too much of anyone.
· If a peaceful atmosphere is to be maintained, it is essential to remain positive. With this in mind, drop the criticism. Our psyches can fall into positive or negative circuits. Once we allow negative thoughts to creep in, they can begin to dominate and become difficult to shift. This is particularly relevant during stressful periods. A good way to switch onto a positive loop is to focus on the positive and forget the negative. Try to catch yourself before you make any criticism, no matter how big or small. Instead really look for the positives and comment on them. This is as important with yourself as it is with your family. Pull out the positives of how well you are managing everything, rather than being self-critical or stressing about not getting everything 100% as you think it should be.
· Meditation – a minimum of 12 mins per day to reap the benefits. Those who meditate regularly have a split-second advantage over those who don’t, by being able to choose their emotional response to events / actions / interactions. This ability to self-regulate and to think before exploding, is vital to maintain a peaceful and productive home. A personal favourite of mine is Patrick Macmanaway’s ‘Into the Heart’, but there are plenty of apps out there. Mindfulness for Children by Uz Afzal is a great collection one for 4 to 11-year olds.