8 Ways to Create the Best Learning Environment at Home
Has your child’s school been closed for the remainder of the school year? Most have, and we’re all scrambling to adapt to this new normal.
Suddenly, you have a lot more say in your child’s school work.
Instead of homework time after school, children are expected to continue their regular classwork at home—with your help, of course. Keeping kids occupied at home, let alone keeping the pace academically, may seem overwhelming. Hopefully you’ve received resources from your school to help navigate this uncharted territory. We have some methods for mastering this chaotic time, too.
We’ve put together eight key tips to help turn your home into a positive, productive learning space for your kids.
Include play. Children—especially young ones—often learn through play. Help them find things around the house that are both fun and relevant to their schoolwork. Learning to add? Grab apples from the fridge or wooden blocks from a toy chest and help your child understand the concept of addition by using these everyday props. Also make sure your children have time to play freely—doing whatever, however they wish. Encourage them to use their little imaginations to engage themselves.
Use nature. Are your kids learning about gravity? Take a walk through the woods to show them acorns and pine cones that have fallen from trees. Are they learning about the solar system? Hold a special class at night under the stars. Find ways to incorporate the outdoors by letting them work outside or just take a break and let them run outside.
Keep a schedule. Your schedule will likely be a lot looser than school, but stick to it. If your kids are accustomed to math in the morning and geography in the afternoon, they’ll adapt to this school-at-home thing a lot more quickly if you stick to this routine. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it eases their uncertainty—not only in their schoolwork, but in this entire situation. This is a magical interplay of autonomy and structure. Experiment with it and find what works best for you and your little ones.
Grant autonomy. Now is the perfect time to give your children a little more flexibility than they might be used to. Classes full of children need structure, but now that your child is on his own at home, there are more opportunities for independence. Encourage him to find new ways to discover information or learn material. Instead of answering too many questions and doing the work for him, show him how to use online resources.
Provide support. Children rarely get the one-on-one help they need or want. While you may be working from home and busy yourself, find ways to engage with your child and her schoolwork. If possible, be available to answer questions or review her work. At some point in the day, set aside time to ask, “What did you learn today?” Instead of simply nodding at her response, have a discussion about whatever interested her most that day.
Limit distractions. For most kids, home is not the primary place for schoolwork. Home is usually about relaxation and play—although hopefully a little bit of work, too! Do what you can to help limit the distractions for your kids. This includes TV, phones, iPads, and noisy siblings. Set up a dedicated space for schoolwork and encourage your kids to focus while in that space.
Help your kids stay connected. Make sure your child is jumping in on that video call with their teacher. Encourage them to Facetime their friends. Now is a fantastic opportunity for you to help build your child’s support system and even their social network. Remember—while you are critically important to your child, kids who have a support network beyond just their parents are often more resilient.
Get to know your child. If you have the time to be more involved, pay attention to the way your child learns. Get to know her style of learning and seek to incorporate different ways to help her. This is a unique opportunity to observe your child up close. Can you recognize a deficiency? Can you see where she naturally excels? While you won’t always be her primary teacher, this information will help aid and encourage her throughout her schooling.
It may be a challenge for your little ones to learn to focus and do school work at home, but look at the bright side of this situation.
Think about the increased autonomy you and your child have to make their learning experience a little more unique and a lot more personalized. This unprecedented time is a challenge and also a great opportunity. Take advantage of it for the benefit of your young ones!
We would love to hear about the ways you are making your home a better learning environment for your kids. Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.