The lessons we’ve learned during lockdown learning
Homeschooling has once more become the daily reality for parents, children and their teachers across the nation. However, this time around it feels somewhat different. Schools and teachers are more prepared and better equipped to offer good online provision, while parents and children are more resigned to just get on with it and make the most of what we hope is a limited spell of alternative learning. That’s not to say everything has gone swimmingly… There have still been ups and downs, tears and tantrums, good days and bad days, but mostly we’ve all just got on with it the best we can. For all its downsides, there is a lot we can learn and take forward from the home-schooling experience, both ideologically and practically.
Access to technology is a fundamental right
Homeschooling has brought the fore the widening education gap between rich and poor pupils. In theory, homeschooling should be, and for most is, easy to set up. A laptop and internet access is all that is required. However, we have seen that some children and families just don’t have the necessary resources available to them. In the digital age, access to computers and the internet is as fundamental as access to pencils and paper. The government and schools need to build on this experience and ensure all young people have the access to technology and the internet at home.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to provide these things for our children need to ensure they develop adequate and well-rounded computer literacy. Apart from choosing their favourite game or searching on YouTube, children need to be able to type fluently (how many adults spend their working life writing out documents by hand?!), to navigate a wide variety of programmes and web browsers, as well as all the vocabulary that comes with the territory.
Teaching is a profession
I think any parent who has been involved in home-schooling has a newfound respect for their child’s teachers. The UK has a poor reputation for undervaluing their teachers. In some countries, such as Switzerland or South Korea, teaching is a highly respected and well-paid career. In the UK, most teachers have a university degree and have gone on to complete intensive training to become a qualified teacher. It is a profession which values continued professional development where teachers receive regular training and subject knowledge updates and are regularly observed and given feedback on their teaching. They know what they are doing and care deeply about the progress and wellbeing of their pupils.
That said, our children’s education isn’t the sole responsibility of our schools and teachers. It’s important to keep track of your child’s progress and make sure they are keeping up with the curriculum. If they are falling behind at all, it is important to pick up on this as early as possible to be able to put in any necessary support.
There’s more to school than Maths and English
With the help of Joe Wicks we have seen the importance of daily exercise and just how simple it can be. Just half an hour each day can make a difference to our children’s physical and mental health. We don’t always need to spend money on classes and coaches; kitchen raves are a valid form of exercise and stress relief! During the lockdowns, we’ve all rediscovered the joy, simplicity and necessity of getting outdoors and walking. Other forms of outlet and self-expression are equally important; art, crafts, cooking, music. We should be as concerned with how schools address these subjects as we are with the core subjects.
Online learning works
Staring at screens all day every day is not ideal. But, in small doses, online teaching and learning can be a really effective tool. Whether this is through apps or live lessons, I think the move towards digital learning is something which will stick around in education. Indeed, the UK government’s initiative to provide catch up education via the use of tutors, both in-person and online, shows there is a belief that one to one online tuition can be effective.
Reading is enough when homeschooling
When all else fails, sitting down with a good book or audiobook is enough. This could be a confident reader reading alone, or you reading to your child. Reading and hearing rich language is essential in developing good vocabulary and therefore good communication skills. Children and adults can often become frustrated by not being able to express their ideas and emotions clearly. Full mastery of the language is of key importance here. Not only this but, through stories, children continue to develop their imaginations. Check our our 7+ and 11+ reading recommendations.
Read our article on online learning and SEN.