With uncertainty around how governments and schools are going to respond to Covid-19, many Australian parents are looking for help with preparing for a homeschooling or remote learning scenario.

Experienced educator and Chief Learning Officer at Cluey Learning, Dr. Selina Samuels shares her top tips for maintaining continuity of learning at home:

  1. Steer clear of holiday mode with structure

If you want to maintain a focus on learning and avoid your child treating this period like a bonus holiday, it’s important to establish a consistent structure for each day.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should expect them to be studying for six hours each day, but it does mean beginning at a consistent time each day. Consider starting at the same time school usually starts. Kids will still get a sleep in without the commute.

There’s also a real benefit in setting aside time at the end of each day to reflect on what’s been learned. This is a great way to ascertain how much your child has absorbed, and where you may need to start tomorrow. It’s also vital information to feed back to your child’s teachers, who will be missing many opportunities to observe their learning in action.

If you’re responsible for ensuring the material provided by the school is being covered, set up a timetable with slots for the different subjects. Your child will probably welcome the familiarity and stability of such order.

  1. Be learning space ready

Delineating learning space from other domestic space is important. Even if you are using the kitchen table as your workspace, make sure you clear away the breakfast debris before you start the “school” day. Keep meals separate from learning.

Resolve any conflicts away from the space that you have defined for learning. Try to keep household dramas separate (I know: easier said than done!).

  1. Set the tone

Some schools are recommending that students should still wear their school uniform while learning at home. As long as they are out of PJs and dressed you are heading in the right direction.

Many parents will also need to get their own work done. Working alongside your child is a good way to model focus and concentration and may make them feel more grown up. 

  1. Screen time is not the enemy

There are some wonderful resources online (virtual galleries, documentaries, YouTube) so use the tools available to you. That said, use them judiciously.

Ensure that any screen time is actively engaging rather than just passive watching of screens. The best way to learn is to engage actively with the material. You can do this by asking kids to write a story or presentation in response to what they have watched online.

Our experience has shown us that online teaching and learning works best when students are active participants, rather than just passive consumers of content. To really absorb their learning, they need to apply it and receive meaningful, targeted feedback.  

  1. Break content into chunks and keep things varied

Teachers know the value of breaking content into manageable and logically connected chunks — it’s much easier for students to grasp and retain information presented this way.

Don’t aim to spend a full day on English and the next day on Maths. If your child’s school is enabling some online interactive sessions, they’re likely to be utilising a flipped classroom model which will expect students to access content prior to the lesson for discussion and analysis during the lesson. This is a useful format for you to use at home, too, so let them go through the content first, before you cover the details together.

  1. Keep reading

If there’s one thing that school closures may well offer to families across the world, it’s an opportunity to do a LOT of reading. If you do nothing else in the way of homeschooling, putting an emphasis on reading and then taking the time to discuss what your child has read will really help with their literacy skills.

If you can’t visit the library, it’s a good time to check out eBooks if you haven’t already.

  1. Let your child be the teacher

One of the best ways to consolidate learning is to teach what we know to someone else. A period at home with your child is a great opportunity for them to teach you what they’re learning. Not only will this help consolidate things for them, it will demonstrate to you their level of comprehension. Plus, it’s a terrific way to give your child a sense of ownership of their own learning.

You may want to encourage older children to teach their younger siblings from time to time – it will be a good break for you and will build confidence in the older sibling. It will also build communication skills, patience and empathy. 

  1. Keep learning fun

Just in case this is all feeling like too much pressure, always remember that learning should be fun – no need to maintain solemn silence! If learning is associated with pleasurable emotions, the brain releases dopamine and we develop a positive attitude to learning.

Repurposing familiar household materials as learning aides is a creative process and the kitchen and ordinary ingredients can make for great Science experiments. This activity also involves reading, following instructions and measurements. The internet is alive with suggestions of experiments you can try.

  1. Feedback, feedback, feedback!

It’s likely that some schools will struggle with the appropriate tools and platforms to provide opportunities for individualised support for every student. While it may be possible to facilitate an online lesson, individual interaction with students may be very challenging.

In this situation, parents will need to find ways to engage with their child’s learning and provide formative feedback (i.e. feedback that supports learning and suggests the next steps). Be careful that you are not protecting your children from making mistakes or getting things wrong. Give feedback to your child about process and effort rather than focusing on whether they got everything right. Share with your child what they did well, what they could have done better and what they should do next time.

Research conclusively shows that this kind of feedback is the most powerful intervention for any learner.

  1. Go easy on yourself

No parent finds teaching their own child easy (even teachers).

Don’t give up and seek support if you feel you need it. Many parents who homeschool full-time lean on tutors to lead on certain subjects they find challenging or to simply give themselves a break for an hour or more.

Cluey Learning is releasing guidance for parents, teachers and students to help navigate online learning during this uncertain period. The free guidance will focus on maintaining continuity of learning and is available on Cluey’s blog and via a webinar series:

  1. Guidance for teachers: (from Monday 23rd March 2020)
  2. Guidance for parents: (from Monday 30th March 2020)

 Cluey Learning has delivered over 50,000 online learning sessions for Australian school students via its interactive online platform. The online tutoring service is also an ongoing support to hundreds of homeschool parents across the country.


About Cluey Learning:

Cluey Learning delivers personalised online tutoring support for students in Years 2 -12, across Maths, English and Chemistry. All content is mapped to the Australian National Curriculum and is based on the unique learning needs of each individual student. Cluey has supported over 5,000 Australian families, run over 50,000 sessions and has been rated 4.7/5 by parents and students.

 About Dr. Selina Samuels:

Qualifications: BA (Hons), LLB, PhD, MEd

Dr Selina Samuels is the Chief Learning Officer at online education company Cluey Learning. She has been in education for over three decades, and held leadership and advisory roles for almost twenty of those years.


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