Home-schooling and adjusting to working from home

By Sarah Behenna, WISE’s STEM Accord Manager and qualified science teacher.

Sarah qualified as a secondary school science teacher in 2011, teaching all the sciences to 11 – 16 year olds and specialising in Chemistry up to A-level. She has also taught in a Special Educational Needs school, and offered private tutoring up until May 2019 when she started managing the STEM Accord project. STEM Accord is a partnership between some of the major STEM outreach organisations which aims to increase collaboration between the organisations, STEM businesses and schools to increase their reach and impact.

By now the pressures of home-schooling and adjusting to working from home (often trying to do both of these at the same time) will be starting to take its toll. So I’ve put together a short list of home ed tips from a teachers perspective to try and help you through these unprecedented times.

  1. Scrap the school day. You don’t need to replicate the school’s timetable and get your children to study for six hours. Remember that when they’re in school they’d have lunch, breaks, time when transitioning from one lesson to another etc. Plus in school they have one teacher between the whole class, whereas if you’re teaching your children they’re getting dedicated 1 to 1 tuition, so the time they do spend learning will be a lot more intense.
  2. Routine helps. We all know getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day is beneficial for us, and the same goes for studying too. You don’t need to stick to the timings of the school day with highly detailed itineraries, which look great on paper, but when it comes to it can add a lot of pressure to an already stressful situation. But keeping some sort of routine does help, maybe you like to start with the subjects you find harder first to get them out of the way, or you alternate them with your favourite subjects? Whatever you choose try to keep the pattern roughly the same day to day, and include frequent breaks (for whatever age they are!).
  3. Weekend learning. To take the pressure off during the week when you need to work you could do some of the home education at the weekend instead, so that when you are working they can be playing or doing activities that require less input from you.
  4. Schools are officially closed. Schools may be providing work for your children to complete but they’re not officially open for remote learning. So try not to worry if they’re not able to do all of the work or if they come to you for help and you don’t know the answer, you’re not their teacher, and you’re not expected to be either.
  5. Do something different. Equally your children may be getting through the work school sets very easily, so instead of doing more of the same you could get them doing something completely different. This is a great opportunity for them to develop a new skill, or hobby, or find out more about themselves. For example they could find out more about their natural strengths using WISE’s My Skills My Life quiz
  6. Value the everyday. Learning isn’t just academic work, activities such as cooking, cleaning, tidying, reading, arts and crafts, watching an interesting documentary, or getting active in the garden are all learning. Even playing computer games improves hand eye co-ordination and decision making, so you can count all of these activities and more as time spent learning.

Check out our list of STEM resources and activities which are free to access or to register for parents which can be done at home for children of all ages.

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