Mr Christian Soulard, Principal of the International French School in Singapore, suggests four crucial aspects for home-based learning success.
From classroom management to available learning tools, home-based education has forced teachers to adapt their teaching style. It has changed how educators approach students, the subject matter, and how they capture students’ attention. At IFS, we understand that it is an adjustment and a learning journey for both teachers, students and parents.
When implementing the IFS home-based learning programme, we have made sure the programme is adaptable to support student needs and to ensure a smooth transition from a classroom environment to a home environment. We employ a combination of visual content, independent learning, quizzes and a variety of learning tools.
Our programme is guided by a robust structured approach, providing critical continuity of education. For younger, primary school students, we have gradually introduced new content and concepts, giving students time to adjust to the new routine and giving our teachers time to adapt and evolve the programme. For older and more mature students, capable of more independent learning, we can continue with the teaching of the curriculum.
I have four pieces of advice to help parents during this challenging period. Here are my four top tips to aid your child.
It goes, almost without saying, the main distinction between face-to-face and home-based learning is the students’ learning environment. From a teacher’s perspective, this is also the most significant challenge. It is not possible or practical to replicate precisely how teaching is done in class, face-to-face compared to at home, online.
Therefore, ensure that you have set up a learning environment that allows your child to focus on his/her education. Create a calm space at home with plenty of light and limited distractions that they will be comfortable working in for a few hours.
Set up an area conducive for learning, such as at the dining table or study desk. It might be a good idea not to use the room where your child sleeps. This can help provide focus on the task at hand.
During this period, students need more than ever to be engaged with their learning. To be involved, they have to stay in contact with their friends, teachers, and most importantly, they need support from you, their parents.
While the motivation for learning comes typically from teachers and peers at school, parents must now take on the responsibility of ensuring the engagement of your children and be invested in the learning process. However, you need to strike a necessary balance – keep things fun. Don’t make children dread their home-based learning experience.
Our teachers will provide the initial impetus with creative ideas to maintain student engagement and interested, especially the younger ones. The use of green-screen visualisations and introducing more hands-on activities, sharing jokes and funny stories all help to keep spirits high. As such, for our primary years’ students, the daily motivational video from teachers are critical and the perfect way to start your child’s day of learning.
A handy method for maintaining engagement is to reinforce structure and routine. After setting up a schedule, stick to it as best as you can. This will ensure your children have the right balance of work, play, rest and sleep.
At the end of the day, have a conversation with your child about his/her experience. What did they learn? Was there anything they were unsure of? And do they need to ask the teacher for more explanation? You must facilitate connection with their teacher and their classmates to be able to iron out misunderstandings and to discuss problems and solutions together.
Making mistakes is essential and healthy in the learning process. You have to accept; mistakes will be made to help your children learn. This can be difficult for parents to accept, but it is absolutely necessary.
You, the parent, are not teachers. Therefore you need to be, perhaps, more patient than usual with their children. Be aware of differentiating your child from the student they are going to be at home.
It is essential to understand that learning doesn’t happen in a straight line and that your children’s education is a continuous journey. Give them the chance to make mistakes and advise them on what went wrong so that they can learn from their mistakes.
Pedagogical theorists have long understood that mistakes help students become better problem solvers and critical thinkers. A beneficial side effect of allowing children to make mistakes is the development of foresight, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
So, take a deep breath and embrace the full learning process of your children.
Consolidation is when new material or content is reviewed, and hopefully learning is reinforced. It usually occurs at the end of the lesson. Consolidation can be compared with revision or memorisation.
Consolidation of learning requires that your child stops and brings their ideas or learning to a single understanding. Your children have to process the material or instruction provided thus far and make sense of it.
It is advisable to build in time for self-evaluation to consolidate your child’s learning and to establish what is required for future progress.
Equally important is a good sleeping routine. You don’t learn if you don’t sleep. Allowing your child time to rest is critical for learning. It also is an excellent time to give them a break from screens and devices. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, have a routine. This will help keep your children healthy and ready to learn.
Home-based learning is undoubtedly an excellent solution to the current problem we face. It has its benefits, requiring real discipline from the student, and this self-learning model is an impressive skill for the future.
That said, there are so many added elements to a school day that we hope to reintroduce as soon as it is safe to do so. Social interaction is so essential to ensure proper ‘soft’ skills and a humanistic approach.
Tracking a student’s performance can also be challenging from afar. Not to mention our facilities at IFS, the range of technology and innovations available for learning make for much more enriched education.
It has been heartening to see our teachers, students and parents working hard and working together to overcome teething issues, adapting and finding a new ‘normal’ under these circumstances. They are doing a fantastic job, and I firmly believe that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger as a community and as a school.
More Top Tips
Click here for more tips from our psychologists on how to succeed during home-based learning.