The UAE’s Ministry of Education has announced distance learning for all schools will continue until the end of the academic year, meaning parents will need to carry out their new roles as home educators for several more months. If you’re one of the parents struggling to keep the learning going at home and your children are ironically begging to return to school, help is at hand. Dubai Heights Academy has shared these helpful and practical tips so parents can create a happy, harmonious and successful home learning environment.
“Having a routine is crucial in these testing times, so trying out to some practical tips to create an optimal learning environment will undoubtedly bring some much-needed order into a brand-new home environment,” Alison Lamb, Principal of the leading British curriculum school located in the heart of Dubai’s Al Barsha South, said.
Here are the recommended steps to follow:
1. Set up a dedicated space for learning – Children will do their best while sitting in a quiet, comfortable and dedicated learning space. Ideally, choose a spot where they don’t usually play games or watch television.
2. Make it look like a classroom - Fill the home classroom with learning-related items such as pens, books, writing tablets, blackboards and interactive learning games. By making an effort to recreate a classroom environment, children will be more likely to tune into the task at hand.
3. Don’t forget break time– This is an important tip, especially with very young children, who have shorter attention spans. Give kids ample brain breaks and schedule learning activities for short bursts of time throughout the day. Suggest fun or physical activities regularly to keep them energised, including dancing to music, performing animal walks, doing wall or chair push-ups and playing in the garden.
4. Keep to a plan – Get to know your child’s daily/weekly schedule and learning objectives when the school sends them through the relevant platform. In addition to giving you a handle on their learning, it will help children prioritise and discover to create goals, tasks and deadlines. Sticking to a structured routine will give your child the opportunity to maximise time for learning as well as leisure time, producing a healthy balance.
5. Digital detox – Put limits on your child’s gadget-use until schoolwork is completed as games, apps and messaging can be distracting. One idea is picking out a basket or box where kids can keep all the gadgets out of sight during learning hours. Plus, it would help to encourage other parents in your circle to do the same to minimise temptation. You can also consider using a desktop or laptop for maximum online learning.
6. Connect with other parents – Check in with other mums and dads to see what they’ve found useful or effective. Share concerns and helpful hints over a group video chat, making it clear you are there for each other.
7. Sing their praises–Positive, constructive praise always goes a long way with children and provides added motivation. You can reach out to teachers for advice on suitable ways to give positive affirmation. Don’t forget you’re doing a great job too.
8. Introduce new learning experiences – Learning doesn’t have to always mean sitting in front of the screen. Excite their interest by creating small learning competitions among siblings or classmates. Whether some artwork, an interactive group game or encouraging them to research something that is of interest to them, it will keep the momentum going. Let them experiment with a creative project like junk modelling or creating an artwork out of recycled materials.
9. Have a regular bedtime routine – It’s certainly tempting to push bedtime by an hour or two since the need for the early morning school run is over. However, we all know that adequate sleep is essential for concentration, motivation and general wellbeing. Try to stick to your child’s school weeknight bedtime routine as much as possible.
10. Communication is key – Try and make it a daily habit to ask children how they are finding their schoolwork and ask whether they have concerns. You may find simple reassurance and understanding can help a lot when it comes to boosting motivation and lifting any worries about schoolwork or missing social interaction. One hot tip is asking your child to write down their ‘Thought of the Day’ and having a discussion about it as a family. Or perhaps you can get in touch with teachers to ask them to have a video chat to get things back on track.