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28 April, 2020

Supporting Learning at Home – Establishing Routines

With many children learning from home at the moment, establishing a ‘Learning from Home Routine’ can be very helpful in ensuring that your days run a little more smoothly. Each school is managing the school day and learning from home tasks slightly differently. Here are some general tips to make learning from home smoother for everyone involved.

Have a Designated Workspace

Having a designated work space will help children to get into ‘school mode’ and help them focus on their school work. Even if your child is working at your kitchen table try to get into the habit of having them clear away any meals or distractions before they start ‘school’. Children are used to working with others around them in the classroom so having siblings (or parents) working at the same table is ok if you are stuck for space. 

The most important thing is having all the tools children will need to hand and getting rid of unnecessary distractions. They do not need too much. Keep whatever books, stationary and technology they need to complete their school work nearby. It is a good habit to have a school bag or box nearby in which they can store the things they do not need immediately. For example, if they are working on Maths they only need their maths resources to hand. They can tidy away resources for other subjects to make the work space more organised.

Define Expectations

At school your child will be aware of what is expected of them. Teachers often spend time discussing what is expected of students and what appropriate classroom behaviour looks like. We often assume that if we tell children to work they will know what to do, but this is a new situation for them. Sit down together and discuss what learning from home looks like and what is expected of them. For example, when they sit down to work they should try their best to complete the tasks at hand. They should try to concentrate on their tasks for a set amount of time (this will depend on their age). Discuss what will make this easier for them and for you. 

Structure the Day

Children work well with structure. If you have not found a routine, try sitting down with your child and coming up with a timetable for the school day. On your time table include work time, lunch breaks, exercise breaks, screen time, even chores. You may also need to mark online lessons depending on how your school is managing this. Try to factor in some things your child likes to do in this timetable and they will be more likely to stick with it and keep them motivated. But remember to be fluid and flexible with the timetable and to use it as a guide rather than being restricted by it.

You can download a blank timetable to get you started.

Stay Active

Frequent movement and exercise is very important and will help with children’s concentration. At school, teachers often incorporate short 1-5 minutes activities (sometimes called brain breaks)  at the end of a lesson or when they notice their students’ concentration is lapsing. Try to incorporate simple movement breaks like doing some jumping jacks, running on the spot, playing rock, paper, scissors, having a quick dance party to one of your child’s favourite songs or singing a movement song like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. 

Before and After ‘School’ Routine

Try to mark the beginning and end of the school day. In the morning try to incorporate some non-school activities before launching into the school day. Give yourself enough time to get dressed, have breakfast and try to do something your child enjoys. If you have time, getting some exercise is a great way to start the day. Getting outdoors for a short walk or run around your garden would be great, if possible. 

After school try not to let school activities drag into non-school time. Once the school day is over let your children play and enjoy some of their favourite activities. If your child has spent a large chunk of the school day on a screen, encourage them to take a break from the screen for a while. Sticking to a good sleep schedule is also very important and will help with concentration.

If you want to find out more, many states and territories have shared great tips and resources for learning at home on their Department of Education websites.

Happy learning!

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