School closures present a big challenge for many parents, so we sat down with an expert to get some guidance on the best way to tackle home learning. JEROME BARTY-TAYLOR is an expert and here he shares his recommendation for parents and students.
#1 Prepare for home learning the night before
Preparation is key. Jerome suggests parents go on to their school’s online platform the night before. Look up the emails and information that’s been shared from school. Then, come up with a plan with your child about what’s going to be achieved the following day. This means you won’t be running around looking for resources each morning. Think of it like packing your school bags the night before.
#2 Set up a supervised space
Where should we set up for home learning? Jerome says, “For students of all ages, the space needs to be one which is supervised. So, working around the dining table during the school day is beneficial. That can be divided up into periods of independent work or parentally supervised work.” The role of the parent is to make sure that the work that’s being set is delivered. So, the dining table with eyes on and everyone working in a central space is a good way of ensuring you know what is being completed. “For teens, being in their room, there’s so much potential for distraction and not working.”
#3 Ensure a no-phone zone!
“The most important message to communicate is that mobile phones need to be switched off and taken from the student, irrespective of their age.” Jerome urges parents to remember that WhatsApp and other messaging apps can be accessed vis laptop if the phone is still on and close. “Switching the phone off, handing it in at 9am and having it returned at 4pm is really essential if home learning is going to be something that works,” he warns. In short, if we all agree to a phone-free home learning day, it will be much easier on our children.
#4 Print home learning materials
Jerome recommends printing home learning materials. “For students of all ages, having something tangible in front of them will make it much easier for tasks to be completed.” That physical printout acts like a checklist of the tasks you need to complete. “This gives you more control as a parent while you’re supervising learning.” He also says that it can help facilitate a conversation with your child about the content they are learning.
#5 Keep structure in the day
Start your day at the same time. “Having a consistent period of time in which work is achieved is important,” according to Jerome. For primary school students, aiming to get work completed between 9am and midday is a good setup. Also, breaking up time and tasks into 25 minute blocks with a 5-minute break is effective for most age groups. So, for primary students, that would facilitate six tasks between 9am and 12pm, which you would have prepared the night before (see above).
An hour for lunch for all ages is essential – and, within that hour, an opportunity to get outside for some fresh air is best. Returning for afternoon study is something parents can make a judgement on, depending on their own child. High-schoolers should be able to return for a second session of study after lunch. Final-year students will need that time to complete their tasks.
Structure is good but it’s also important to be be flexible. Jerome encourages parents to continually check in with students, especially if they see them stalling or struggling to complete tasks. You may need to lean in and engage them in a gentle conversation that will help you get a better understanding of the support they require.
#6 Maintain momentum
It’s important to clearly explain to high schoolers that schoolwork still needs to be completed. “If you’re a final year student, it’s a sprint to the finish,” says Jerome. Parents are right to be concerned, as maintaining momentum is a real concern. Teenagers are very present-focused – that’s simply because of their age and brain development. Parental influence is required to remind these students that they need to keep working, despite the uncertainty we have faced this year.
#7 Troubleshoot home learning challenges
Jerome has shared some great troubleshooting strategies for common home learning challenges. Listen to the full podcast below to hear some common challenges and all of his solutions.
About our podcast
Welcome to Schools in Hong Kong, Expat Living’s podcast that introduces expat parents to our city’s international schools. If you’re moving to Hong Kong, or living here and starting to look at school options, this is the podcast for you! You can start at the very beginning with our Hong Kong Schools 101 episode.
Our editor has spent years visiting schools and meeting with principals. She knows there are some fantastic education options available to expats. But, as parents, we know the school choices here can be overwhelming. This is why we put together this podcast series, to help parents better understand their options.
Scroll through our feed and you can listen to a range of episodes. We will introduce you to the city’s experts who can help you learn more about schools in our city. The series covers different curriculum choices, popular international schools, the realities and advantages of learning Chinese, what the local system is like, and a whole lot more.
If you have a question or some feedback to share, we’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with our team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.