11 crazy simple ways how to help your child study like a boss

Schooling has never been in such turmoil

Never before has it been so essential for a parent to understand how to help your child study at home.

Beginning with rumours starting to circulate about what appeared to be an ‘unusual’ type of flu in China back in January, the world’s eco system rapidly fell apart and left everyone in a new and unstable environment.

Governments around the world rushed to introduce measures to stem the tide of this pandemic, by the continuing spread of this virus, by now known by its name of Covid-19 or Cornoavirus, meant all but the most essential places of work to be shut.

Allied to this each set out country-specific rules to ensure people only left their homes for the most essential of journeys. 

To have done anything less could have meant the virus would have spread to, and perhaps affected, many hundreds of thousands more people than it had already.

Additionally, and in an attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19 or Coronavirus, Governments around the world closed their own country’s schools (from 23rd March in the UK), often with just a few days warning.

Many people have had to come to terms with the distinct possibility of lost or reduced income and for those with children, the resultant confusion as to how their children will make up their lost educational time.

Children’s education has truly been impacted in the worse possible ways, making 2020 a school year no child will ever forget – and one where being able help your child study will be a key to their future.

Many parents asking for help

Every Government had to act quickly to close all of their country’s schools whilst at the same time arranging for their pupils to continue their studies at home.

For those families who have never experienced home-schooling, however, overseeing their child’s full-time home education has come as rather a shock.

Many parents have found that being expected to help your child study appears to be something impossible to achieve.

It’s often discussed but there is something of a divide in the UK’s education system, with only a small percentage of parents having both the personal education and the finance to provide for tutors.

Perhaps it’s because of that but data collated by schools has shown a wide variation in the amount of hours pupils are spending online with their schools, along with a further 2 ½ per cent attending physical schools if they’re children of key workers or in specific groups of vulnerable children.

However, we know of and have supported parents who were electively homeschooling prior to the lockdown who have neither a university education nor a high income.

That being so we’re sure that with the correct support many a parent can help your child study at home during in this key June to September period.

Additional reading

Summer learning loss is real – and this time it’s worse

To date the main source of research on learning loss has been the effect of long school holidays on the poorest pupils. This data has revealed most suffer from at least a three months loss when re-starting schooling after the summer break.

This time, however, pupils will have been away from their classes for many more weeks and thus they will have ‘fallen out of’ good study habits.

And then, when your child finally returns to school in September there’s every possibility that restrictions in class size will still exist.

This might also include less than full-time attendance, meaning they’ll continue to need to ‘top up’ their studies when at home.

Data from the US Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) suggests that children could lose around 30% of their “usual” progress in reading, increasing to 50% or more in maths.

Additionally, a recent survey by the Sutton Trust showed that less than one in four pupils are regularly attending online classes.

Clearly parents need support to help your child study at home.

Here’s how to help your child study

This learning loss is best addressed by helping your child to continue their education in a ‘drip-feed’ format up until they return to school for their new term in September.

Good studying is rather like going to the gym – regular attendance is of much more use than infrequent ‘blitz’ sessions.

Many parents have been quick to contact tutors to request support, however, if you’d prefer to go it alone or if your finances mean you cannot afford a tutor, there are still ways you can help your child.

What I’ve set out here, therefore, are a selection of suggested ways that you can support your child’s learning over the coming months so that they can return to school in September without lagging any further behind in their studies.

Rest assured – none of these suggestions will require any more than a basic education – and little expenditure, so if funds are tight and your maths or English skills or ‘rusty’ that’s perfectly ok.

They will, however, ensure your child doesn’t slip further back and will be able to return to school with renewed confidence in September.

help your child study

Problems created by the Covid lockdown

The UKs state education system was never designed to deal with an extended breakdown such as what we’ve been experiencing over the previous eleven weeks.

Whilst families are used to handling the regularity of a short half-term and longer end of term breaks this stoppage of unknown duration has been very unsettling for all.

It’s been difficult, therefore, for parents to deal with the many unexpected challenges that Coronavirus has created – issues such as:

  • Will or my partner or I be furloughed and if so will my employer make up the shortfall in the 80% being paid by the government or will we need to live on just that?
  • Will either of us be made redundant either during or at the end of the furlough scheme?
  • If we’re made redundant how quickly might we find another job, especially if others are losing their jobs too?
  • How will my child’s older and perhaps less healthy members of their extended family cope with the ongoing crisis without our regular visits?
  • For those who have grandparents living at the same address – how do we keep them safe?
  • How will my child cope with having to stay indoors without spending time with their friends for many weeks?
  • Stress for your child due to them not being able to visit other members of their extended family for an unknown  length of time.
  • Lack of a regular weekly routine of attending school leading to possible emotional challenges such as depression and anxiety.

The next few weeks are key

The next few weeks a going to be key ones for your child’s education. There’s no way that every child will be able to re-commence their schooling in September at anywhere near the standard that would be expected.

That’s why you too may benefit from some support to help your child study.

Even with the best intentions of both their school plus their parents, homeschooling is a hard job to do.

That being so, there are some simple to implement steps any crafty and caring parent can carry out that will help their children to bridge the gap between where they’ll be on their learning journey in September, compared to where they should have arrived at by then.

You’ll find eleven simple next steps below.

We’re not saying you should implement all of them (but if you do then ‘well done’), simply pick one or two and see how you get on.

What you do over the next few months will help support your child’s future learning and earning potential tremendously – so don’t let this opportunity slip by.

Eleven ways crafty parents can help your child study at home

Each of these simple and low-cost suggestions will offer a tangible benefit to your child, but when combined AND when carried out over the longer-term you’ll see a steady incremental improvement in their skills.

Over time they’ll notice how they can perform at a higher level, perhaps higher than they’ve ever been able to before.

It’s quite possible to stop summer learning loss – we’ve seen it happen many times and it’s the families who care about their child’s education who go onto to produce the best results.

So as you read through these suggestions, consider them from the perspective of, “That’s a really good suggestion. How best can we make it work for our child?”

1. Agree with them when they’ll work and what they’ll do

Schedule regular time during each day to help your child study from home.  You don’t have to stick rigidly to a school timetable, but research has shown that having a structured approach will offer the greatest benefits.

Agree with them what sanctions will be applicable if they miss those times (we’ll leave what those sanctions will be to you, but here are a couple of examples, such as no smartphone for a day, no Zoom calls with friends, etc.

Check in with them regularly to make sure they’re doing what they’ve agreed and if you need to double-check anything speak to your school or contact us if you prefer (We can provide some quick answers for no-charge if you’re stuck.)

2. Create a space for your child to study in peace and quiet

Simply put, to help your child study, cut out the distractions.

Whatever your child says about how they work better whilst watching TV, or whilst doing some secondary task – that’s not the reality.

Research has repeatedly shown that multi0tasking reduces our ability to produce quality work. 

When adults were tested whilst multi-tasking their results reduced to below that if they’d been drinking alcohol!

So agree with your child when they’ll work and set a place for them to do so.

Perhaps this can be in their bedroom, or the dining room or kitchen table.

Wherever you decide, it’s only required to be an ‘out of bounds’ area for the times your child’s studying – so ensure everyone pitches in to help.

Ensure they’ve got any pens, paper, calculators etc if required (see point 4 below), so they don’t have to keep getting up if they ‘accidentally’ forget these items.

And also make sure any other people in the house know when these times are and ensure they leave the student alone.

3. Ensure your child has some uninterrupted access to the internet for study

Along with timetabling for study, agree with others that your child will have access to the internet. 

If that means others need to hold-off from watching films or gaming – if that slows down your internet connection, then so be it.

It’s only for an hour or so and will only be for a few weeks and will help your child study much easier.

Consider also using some blocking software or apps so that your child cannot ‘accidently’ log onto Social Media or gaming sites whilst studying.

materials tools to help your child study at home

4. Make sure they’ve got all the tools they require

If you were going to paint a room you’d begin by getting the necessary materials together first, and then carry out preparation work before putting any paint on the walls.

Similarly, let’s make sure your child has all the items they require to hand before they start.

Ask any teacher and they’ll tell you how, in class, it’s terribly easy for children to ‘forget’ a pen or suchlike and then waste time whilst a teacher or TA has to find one for them. So let’s avoid this by good planning in advance.

At the least we’d suggest they have to hand, especially if they’re not used to taking these to school each day the following items:

  • A4 pencil(s)
  • Blue or black pen(s)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Glue stick
  • Ruler
  • Protractor
  • Right-angled triangles
  • Scrap paper for notes
  • Clean paper for writing
  • Coloured highlighters
  • A calculator (a handheld one will be better than using the one on their phone, in case they are ‘distracted’ whilst working!)
  • A few sheets of ‘square’ paper for maths
  • A piece of grease-proof or tracing paper to use for tracing and related maths-work
  • Colouring pencils (if required for some subjects)
  • Any printed materials or books as provided by their school
  • Perhaps also some mini post-it pads or tabs for marking pages

If they don’t have a pencil case then if there’s an old, empty ice-cream box or similar that could be a good alternative to keep these items ready for use.

5. Ensure they attend any online classes as set by their school

Recent research has shown that around two-thirds of pupils haven’t been regularly accessing their school’s online classes.

Whilst some may have been ‘going it alone’ at home, or may not have had internet access, many of the others have simply been ignoring the need to do some work totally.

That being so, it’s important to track what and when your child’s online lessons take place and to follow-up each lesson to ensure they’ve done the necessary work.

Many online services are continuing over the summer holiday and so regular attendance will be possible.

6. Work back over old notes

Have them work back through some of their previous term’s work.

Just like how a good student will revise by looking back through their old work, and re-doing some of those exercises, agree with your child to spend some time each week going back over the previous term’s work.

There’s a strong possibility that by now they’ve forgotten much of this and so now’s the time to rebuild their understanding of those parts of the syllabus.

If, however, your child hasn’t got any notes for previous work then have them focus upon what work they have now – or ask their school for some catch-up work.

7. Buddy-up if permitted

It may have been months since your child was in a class with other children, so, speak to one of his friend’s parents to ask about both studying together.

There’s a benefit to working with a friend – being able to discuss work and try out different approaches is all good learning, plus it adds some fun to what can feel rather tedious otherwise.

8. If they’re going up to a new school, take them on a ‘dry-run’

Most secondary schools would have arranged visits for all Year 6 primary school pupils so they could spend a day in their new school, so if your child’s going into Year 7 here’s what we’d suggest.

If they’re going to walk to the school let them have a walkthrough so they know the route. Perhaps buddy-up with a friend for this if they’re attending too.

For children who will be taking public transport, then, assuming access is permitted, take them on the route so they know where the on and off stopping points are on the route and double-check the timetable in case it’s set to change in September.

9. Treat the summer holiday break as ‘school-lite’

This year make sure your child continues with their studies by spending a few hours per week working through their maths and English work. 

Your school should have provided them with a pack to use – if not – contact us and we may be able to suggest some age-appropriate work for them.

Research has shown that nearly every child suffers from ‘Summer Learning Loss’, which can seriously reduce their chances of achieving a good start to their new year. 

The best way to combat this is by them continuing with their studies over the summer break, albeit at a reduced intensity.

10. Have them read some ‘good books

Along with maths, their English studies are going to be key to ensure that they achieve a good start in the new academic year.

The best way to boost this is by having them read some quality books over the summer.

All they need to do to achieve this is to spend a few hours per week reading.

We always suggest that pupils keep a notebook nearby when reading and they use it to jot down any words they don’t recognise.

They can then look them up in a dictionary both to confirm their spelling and their definitions.

If you don’t have a recommended reading list we’d be happy to provide you with one.

11. Special note for Grammar school exam preparation

If your child is in Years 4, 5 or 6 and you’re hoping they secure a place in a local Grammar School then this could be the time to ‘get a jump’ on the competition.

Many other children will have let their studies slip during the last few months and so if you can keep your child on-track this could be an opportunity for them to move up the rankings.

For you we’d suggest you double-check exactly what will be included in your chosen grammar School’s entrance exam.

Most include a maths paper and some type of English paper.

Some also include Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning papers, but not every school uses every type of test.

It would be a shame to have your child waste their time learning how to do exam question types that won’t appear in the actual examination papers.

As regards developing their skills we’d recommend regular practice, building up their speed and mental dexterity over time.

We’d also recommend they read widely. If you don’t already have a suggested reading list contact us and we’d be pleased to provide you with one.

12. Seek the help of a tutor

You probably expected us to mention this one, so we’ve added it as twelfth, extra suggestion.

Whether you work with us or someone else, there are many advantages to having an online tutor to support your child’s education, which include:

  • Easy access online during the lockdown
  • Being used to helping your child’s age group
  • An awareness of what your child should have already studied
  • Access to alternative study aids
  • Ability to break down each subject into bite-sized chunks of learning
  • Help to recap over forgotten earlier parts of the syllabus
  • Help to prepare your child for their next year’s studies
  • Avoids stressful arguments with parents trying to get children to study
  • Reduces embarrassment for children if they don’t understand something

And once the lockdown is finally stopped, perhaps to arrange one-to-one tutoring at home

Feel free to contact us if you’d like to find out more about our services or for help in finding a tutor local to where you live.

Additional reading

Conclusion

The enforced separation of your child and their usual school routine has created a critical period in their education.

One which, if handled correctly and with your help, they will be able to navigate sucessfully and minimise or reverse any COVID related and summertime learning loss.

By following some of the suggestions provided here you’ll ensure your child is best prepared for a successful return to full-time education at the start of their next term.

If, however, you’d prefer to have some help in putting these steps in place, along with some oversight so that your child’s maths and English skills improve rather than decrease over the summer, feel free to get in touch as we’d be pleased to help.

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