Advice from a primary school teacher on homeschooling: "Don't force it"

James Braid
Photo credit: Hbo/Kobal/Shutterstock

From Harper's BAZAAR

With many households now having to incorporate homeschooling into their daily routines for the first time, we spoke to James Braid, a teacher at Chelsfield Primary School in Orpington, who shared his advice for making the process as smooth as possible.

The top priority through this pandemic is to ensure that children remain happy and healthy, so please do not force children to do learning if it is affecting their well-being.

Here are a few ways to help prevent this from being the case though:

1/ Schedule a weekly timetable for learning

This might only come into place next week after you've spent a few days trialling different techniques, butt eventually it should help children to be more agreeable and ready to learn if they know what’s coming up, and when, in advance. Periods of learning should be between 30 and 60 minutes to ensure good productivity throughout, and include lots of breaks!

2/ Keep things positive

When undertaking any learning, give lots of encouragement and positive praise whether children are succeeding or not. Help where you can, but if your child is finding a task too challenging after a few attempts, leave it. Schools should be suggesting lots of websites with alternative resources to try instead of main set tasks.

3/ Promote a growth mindset

This is a staple underpinning of many schools’ ethos today. Praise children for their effort rather than their achievement. This will help to foster or maintain a hunger for learning.

4/ Try lots of things

Remember that children learn from cooking meals, playing games, exploring the garden and even just from talking to people. Mix things up to keep days exciting for your children and for yourselves.

5/ Don't be too hard on yourself!

Homeschooling is a tough gig that people have been forced into, unprepared. It can be difficult for some children to envisage parents or carers as teachers, as their primary role is to nurture and provide. Also, for most children, home is a place where they primarily enjoy downtime. Changing these expectations and balances may not happen overnight. Therefore, if you are finding it hard to motivate children at first, don't blame yourself! Any stress that you are feeling will most likely transfer onto your child. Keep calm and keep trying different to initiate learning at different times throughout the day until you find a pattern or routine that works best. Make sure to remind yourself that you're doing your best and to revel in every learning success.

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