by Jacqui Smit, a blue-haired “crazy cat lady” who loathes a split infinitive and loves an Oxford comma. She works as a copywriter for Impaq Education, a curriculum provider for home, tutor and school education.
While some schools in some provinces have recently opened, many learners are still learning at home. Some learners have taken to homeschooling like a duck to water, but others are finding it a bit more challenging, even after a couple of months. Impaq’s learners are always home-based, so they asked them, their parents, and tutors to share their tips on how to study from home. And this is what Impaq’s Facebook and Instagram pages revealed.
How to study from home successfully:
Use these advice and techniques to make home learning fun and productive.
Make learning fun
While this might be easier said than done, it is possible!
Advice: Paul and Alicia Jordaan say the key to having children do their schoolwork is to “make activities fun”. Work with your children to find a way to make their schoolwork more interesting, if they find it boring. Tutor and teacher, Ntando Mayo, agrees: “Learning should be made fun and the best way to explain concepts is to relate them to our day-to-day activities”.
How to achieve this: In this digital age, there is a wide range of media that can help make learning more interesting, most notable videos relating to the subject (such as Impaq’s free online classes for Grade R – 12 learners). Not only is more information absorbed when watching a video, but learners also tend to find watching videos more fun than reading seemingly endless pages of text.
Find a time to study that works
As adults, we tend to think of ourselves as either “early birds” or “night owls”, and the same is true for teenage learners.
Advice: Molopo Abram personally finds it easier to study late at night: “I study at midnight because there’s no one moving around in the house and there’s no noise”.
How to achieve this: Of course, this study technique is applicable only for older learners, but homeschooling does allow for the flexibility to choose the study time that suits learners best. Related: Five tips on how to motivate your teen during lockdown
Use the Pomodoro Technique
It works! Not only because it creates a mild sense of urgency, but also because it motivates learners to get work/learning done. Plus, it also gives them the recuperation time their brains and bodies need!
Advice: @TheShaya1826 recommends using the Pomodoro Technique for “maximum absorption of material”.
How to achieve this: Work for relatively short intervals of 25 minutes each, separated by brief 5-minute breaks. After the first 3 breaks or 3 “Pomodoros”, extend breaks to 10 or 15 minutes. This time-management technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The intervals are known as a “Pomodoro” (Italian for “tomato”), named after Cirillo’s kitchen timer that was shaped like a tomato.
Organise notes in advance
It goes without saying that you need to create study planners, schedules and timetables. However, these are no good if allocated learning and working time are spent rifling through stacks of notes or a multitude of digital documents.
Advice: @leahkaylene04 explains: “I organise my work according to modules … I download and print my notes prior to studying as this reduces stress and saves time”.
How to achieve this: There are many ways learners can organise their notes. Try sorting them according to:
- subject type or difficulty
- date order
Actually, use anything that works, as long as the notes are ready and waiting when study time rolls around!
Work with the curriculum
This sounds obvious, but it’s important to work with the curriculum, not against it.
Advice: Charmaine de Wet explains: “Don’t be a slave to curriculums or tons of worksheets. It must work for you and your child and not you work for it. If it becomes overwhelming, slow down. Education should be quality, not quantity”.
How to achieve this: As much as the workload needs to be manageable for your child, it needs to be manageable for you, the parent or guardian. It’s impossible to help your child if you are feeling overwhelmed, so do regular check-ins to see how both of you are coping with the lesson material.
Keep the channels of communication open
Although lockdown regulations have softened a little bit, we’re still in a nationwide lockdown with restrictions none of us thought we’d see. Your children know this as well as you do.
Advice: MD for Homeschooling, Louise Schoonwinkel, says: “Learning can’t take place if children feel anxious or uncertain. It’s important to have a conversation with your child about the changes. i.e, what the Coronavirus is; why the schools are closed; why mom and dad are working from home, etc”.
How to achieve this: It’s vital to keep the channels of communication open with your child. This will make them feel they can talk to you about their feelings or concerns. A stressed or upset child is not a productive one, so ensure that you can help talk them through their worries and anxieties
Regard your child as a student
Advice: Nantando Mayo reminds us that “homeschooling/teaching your own child can be challenging but if you want to do a great job the trick is don’t treat them like your own child, instead treat them like you would treat your students”.
How to achieve this: For all intents and purposes, your child now is your student, and it’s important to adapt your behaviour accordingly. Remind yourself constantly though: You’re not actually a teacher, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it hard to take on that role.
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