With Home-based Learning (HBL) implemented once again, some parents may be rejoicing, and others not so much. The HBL journey of 2020 came with its joys and frustrations. However, the good news is that we’ve gotten through it once, and we can certainly get through it again, even more prepared this time around!
While there are some fundamentals when it comes to our children being more independent remote learners, a commentary by SUTD Professor Lim Sun Sun mentions that the HBL experience is largely shaped by four factors, namely - space, devices, access and skills.
The good news is that schools are assisting with devices and access, while space and skills are factors that can be managed to help your child study more effectively this HBL season.
1) Create a Conducive Learning Environment
Not all of us have the luxury of dedicating a separate work desk for our children. However, there are certain steps that we can take to minimise unnecessary interruptions and improve the quality of their remote learning.
Beyond having a table and a chair, this includes keeping the space tidy and having only the materials that they need for their learning around them. Limiting the space to having only these items can help prevent your child from getting sidetracked from work they need to get done.
2) Setting expectations
Establishing clear expectations are important when it comes to building a positive learning environment! This can be done at the start of each day as a reminder and affirmation to develop a stronger relationship with your child and also keep them motivated as they move along their HBL journey.
However, these expectations should not look like rules, but rather, focus on the positive behaviours that you would like to see. Some examples of positive expectations:
Pay full attention during lessons
Complete your assignments on time
Ask for help when you need it
What differentiates these positive expectations from rules then? Rules often focus on undesirable behaviours with consequences that follow. For example, “If you use your phone during lessons, I will take it away.”
While this communicates a type of expectation, it causes your child to focus on the negative behaviour. Instead, placing focus on positive behaviours while setting expectations can be much more effective in getting your child to meet them.
Note that these expectations are also measurable - with a clear idea of how, what, and when, giving your child a clearer idea of what they should do.
3) Work Out a Daily Schedule
Going to school ensures a certain structure in place, and with this structure removed, it can be easy to get carried away and lose track of time. Thus, having a timetable in place can help your child stay on track with what they need to focus on for the day. This schedule should also include things like time for play, which is important for your child to decompress, and also bedtime!
Routines are important in helping your child establish an understanding of what to expect each day, and in turn, understand what is expected of them leading to increased productivity and effectiveness during HBL.
It would be good for your child to be involved in the planning of this schedule as well, giving them greater ownership over their time, and the motivation to follow through with their plan!
4) Support Their Social and Emotional Well-Being
Just as we check in with our friends and family, be sure to check in with the little ones too. It’s completely normal for them to feel anxious and worried, especially at a time where there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what is going to happen. As parents, what we can do is help them recognise these feelings, as well as roadblocks that may be present, to overcome them together.
Here are some questions you could try:
Checking in (at the start of the day):
How are you feeling today
What will you be learning today
How will you be spending your time
Checking out (at the end of the day)
How are you feeling today
What did you learn
Were there any challenges you faced?
How can tomorrow be better?
Asking your child these guiding questions can help get them to reflect and better organise themselves for the day, as well as help them establish a safe space to voice out if they need additional support.
We know that navigating Home-based Learning can be daunting, and while we’ve been through it once, the process of HBL is still fairly new to many of us. Be intentional in recognising your child’s effort in doing their best to adjust, and in recognising your own too!