Hayley Robbins, an Early Years Teacher from Surrey, shares her top tips on home schooling.

We are now facing a second round of national school closures with uncertainty on when they will be able to safely re-open to all.

For many parents, this means yet again facing the near impossible, incredibly daunting task: home schooling.

Juggling full time working from home, childcare AND home schooling. 

A recent Mumsnet article highlights the significant impact this is having on parent’s mental health and wellbeing, with 79% of women agreeing that they felt responsible for managing their child’s learning at home. 

Perhaps during the last lockdown, your child hadn’t started school yet, or you feel less confident on how to help your younger children at home. Either way, I hope these four tips can help you to navigate home schooling:

Home schooling tip 1 - Manage your expectations

Have the confidence to make the home learning tasks, provided by your school, manageable for you and your family. Aim for one realistic and achievable goal for each day. If the amount of work your child’s school has provided seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, pick one thing to focus on each week, such as a phonics task, and gradually build upon that. 

Remember, the school National Curriculum for this age group is largely play-based. They do not spend all day at school sat down at a desk. Neither will they be expected to complete work independently yet, so please do not be surprised or frustrated when they ask you to sit with them. Remember that young children’s learning is cumulative, and schools will have planned for recovery teaching later on in the school year, so your child is not “missing” anything.

Home schooling tip 2 - Create and maintain a home schooling routine

Younger children thrive when they feel safe and secure. Following some sort of daily routine will help your child to develop a sense of security and stability in this period of uncertainty, improving their overall behaviour and willingness to learn. 

Some schools have a suggested timetable for home education. If this overcomplicates things for you then essentially try to start and finish learning around normal “school” times, e.g. 9:30am and 3:00pm. 

It might even help you to put their school uniform on to communicate to your child that this is “school” time – and they can take it off again when learning is finished. Sharing a story together at 3:00pm is the perfect way to “end” your “school day”. 

In school, the majority of “core learning” (reading and writing, phonics, maths) typically takes place in the morning. So it will help your child if you can mirror this at home too, keeping art, science and other activities for the afternoons. 

Home schooling tip 3 - Be Honest

If your child’s school home learning platform allows you to provide comments on how they found a particular task – be honest in your feedback. For example, writing, “This was really too tricky, so we tried this instead” or “Not in the mood for writing today, we will try again tomorrow”.

Remember, your child’s teacher spends 30 hours a week with your little one too! So, they have probably already anticipated which tasks they will enjoy more than others. Keeping this honest communication with your child’s teacher keeps everyone in the loop. 

You know your child best. Follow their lead and trust your instincts. Cherish, make time for, and prioritise the things that you will all enjoy doing. Such as going for a walk or baking together.

The most important thing when home schooling Reception age children is keeping them engaged!   

Home schooling tip 4 - Make use of the home schooling resources available to you

It’s OK to admit you are struggling and ask for help, or to share things that have worked well for you. Your network of family and friends are a great resource, albeit virtually for the time being.

Ask friends for website recommendations, you can also find resources for other key stages on the Explore website.

We hope you found this teacher’s home schooling tips helpful! Discover how our online tuition can help keep your child engaged with their home schooling.

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