For many parents, juggling working from home and the newly aquired role of educator is a huge challenge. In this blog, Now Teacher parents share their advice for a home-schooling experience that’s both positive and achievable. 

1. Not all learning is obvious learning

Chris Goode, who is training as a physics teacher with Now Teach this year and has two daughters, says ‘parents can’t emulate school, but just the extra time socialising and communicating with their children is a big benefit to learning. Personally – we’re all becoming budding master chefs in my household as we’ve taken to learning to cook together.’

Matthew Male, maths teacher agrees: ‘anything you do with the child together will help their development. Playing board games is a great way to improve numeracy, problem-solving and social skills.  And time spent outdoors exercising is vitally important, make sure the children get out every day (while government policy permits!). Teenagers may need turfing out of their caves!’

2. Tech is not the enemy

Peter Jerrom, a newly qualified maths teachers says: ‘With social distancing you must schedule some time in your child’s day where they can talk to friends to let off steam.  Get them to use different video apps, it will help their understanding of technology if no thing else!’

‘In a world where lots of meeting are conducted over the internet and people work from home this is a great opportunity for our kids to learn these skills! My eight year old daughter uses google classroom with google suite and zoom for conference calls!’ Says Chris Goode.

3. Role model independence

Chris says ‘set tasks, but make sure the children are given plenty of time to work independently. You don’t need to check up on them every couple of minutes – a teacher at school doesn’t get to check on every child’s work every few minutes!

And remember, your life and day does not have to revolve around your children. They need to fit in with your work and day too – a shared schedule is important. Peter agrees: ‘seeing you working is a positive role model for them’.

Matthew Male, previously in IT, says: ‘teach them how to learn: show them how you would use resources such as books and the internet to learn new topics. You aren’t supposed to know all the answers!’

And if you do know the answer, don’t just tell them – says trainee maths teacher, Vincent Neate. ‘Remember that this is not about what you know but about what they learn and they may not learn anything if you tell them. Don't forget that to not know things is a fabulous precursor to knowing them and not a failing.’

4. Have realistic expectations

Lynda Burns, who retrained as a Spanish teacher after a career in the civil service says ‘for me, in work and home-schooling, this is a time when “good enough” really is enough.

‘Students have bad days and good days.  No student can be on top of their game at all times. And these are tough times for many. Talking through background worries to clear brain space has to be the starting point’ says Kate Weatherall, training in maths after a career in catering.

‘A bad day is just a bad day. The next day will be different.’

5. Positivity, positivity, positivity 

‘I truly believe that this can be a positive experience for children and adults’ says Peter.

Lynda agrees ‘I hope that we will look back on this time as a happy spell in our lives -  a time when we learned a lot, spent quality time together and developed great resilience.’

‘In years to come, they won’t recall all of the learning, but they will remember the overall experience around it, and what you did as a family. Like the toddler with the Christmas gift box, sometimes the packaging proves just a valuable as the content inside.’