Sick of homeschooling your kids? Imagine how they must feel.
New research shows keeping youngsters motivated to study remotely is increasingly becoming a problem for many parents, with 39% of them saying their children had become disengaged with remote learning.
The study, by schools watchdog Ofsted, found 40% of parents felt their child’s focus on studying at home was their top challenge, and it can be even tougher for parents of children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) – nearly three in five (59%) said their child was disengaged from home schooling.
As a result, more than a third of parents are concerned about their child’s motivation to engage with remote learning (36%) and lack of contact with teachers (35%).
But what can parents do if their kids are rebelling against home learning?
Dr. Mary Bousted says: " Many parents are finding the motivation challenge a real uphill struggle this time around. All young people will have a different reaction to learning from home and find some parts of the experience harder than others. We’re advising schools to plan a varied range of learning activities for students."
Frank Milner, president of tutoring company Tutor Doctor, advises: "Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it’s about balance. It’s essential to dedicate enough time to learning, but it’s equally important to focus on switching off to make sure children take proper breaks and don’t get overwhelmed – that’s when they’ll become prone to rebelling."
Here are some expert tips to turn to if your child needs a boost on the motivation front…
Chat and listen
Children don’t just learn from set work. "Remember how much learning your child gets from talking with you about a book, asking about nature or using objects in the kitchen to talk about shapes, volumes or weights," says Bousted. "Listening to your child and letting them share what’s worrying them, can also be really helpful."
Try a fun maths challenge
Grant Smith, vice president of education at kids coding centres Code Ninjas, says playing a fun maths game is great for keeping younger children motivated. He suggests sticking numbers from one to 10 on the floor, before giving your child quick-fire rounds of maths challenges where they have to jump on the answer to the question as quickly as they can. Note the speed of their responses and challenge them to beat their own times.
Make writing more interesting
If your child is bored of writing academic English essays, bear in mind that writing about something that actually interests them can still help improve their literacy and handwriting skills. It can also help stimulate creativity. Milner suggests writing a poem, blog post, short story or song lyrics, or even keeping a journal, could all make picking up a pen seem a little more exciting.
Create a virtual mini-classroom
Use Zoom, Skype or FaceTime so your child can learn with a few of their friends occasionally – or rope relatives in, just to make things a bit different (and give you some moral support!).
"To ensure children feel they’re part of something larger than just the people within their own four walls, I’d always encourage scheduling these sessions to include some downtime too, right before a lunch break or the end of the day, so study time can spill into fun," advises Smith.
Make time to get outdoors
We all need some fresh air says Bousted: "It’s easy to forget to go outdoors, [especially when] parents and carers are so time pressured, but a short walk or activity – like skipping or kicking a football around – can do wonders for everyone’s mood."
Maintain contact with teachers
Bousted advises parents to be confident about contacting their child’s class teacher or form tutor – especially if their child is struggling, losing motivation or confidence, or feeling anxious. She says mums and dads should be able to ask school questions about tech or internet access, and shouldn’t forget to give positive feedback about what’s going well too.
"What’s really positive this lockdown is the high level of communication and connection between schools and parents," she adds.