There are a lot of parents out there who choose not to spend a lot of time tutoring their child at home, until it’s too late.
Don’t wait until you hear from your child’s school, as by that point you’ll have to work twice as hard to get back on track.
In fact, the ideal scenario is to start homeschooling your children from a very young age.
There is new research which suggests that from the time children are babies, it is important to talk and read to them for their development. By doing so, we can help them build the foundations for effective speaking, reading and writing skills.
It isn’t just language we must be aware of, though; it is equally important that we instill the value of disciplined study and learning in our children.
The sooner the child can develop some form of regular learning habit, the easier it will be for them throughout their academic life.
It’s never too soon to start supporting young children’s learning, and the option of employing a tutor can also be an effective way of supporting them, especially when you are unable to provide your full attention.
When subjects are taught in a fun way, studying ceases to be boring. Instead, it can be an opportunity to bond with your child, and to show them that it’s possible to learn through play.
What follows in this guide are a series of tips we believe could help optimise your child’s learning at home:
Discover your Child’s Learning Style
According to the theory of multiple learning styles or intelligences posited by Howard Gardner, we can gain insight into how our children’s minds work, and how best to attract and hold their attention.
By finding out what our child’s learning style is, we can come up with the perfect activities for them to thrive.
Here are some of the main learning styles:
The linguistically talented students enjoy reading and writing.
They will also have great communication skills, which shows up in their interactions with others.
Listening is another skill they will be proficient in, and they should be able to reproduce spoken information almost effortlessly.
If you believe your child has the linguistic learning style, then try to assign written projects for them or have verbal lessons in which you talk about the task at hand.
The interpersonal students are those who work best in groups, and enjoy the meeting of minds to achieve a common goal.
This type of student will thrive if given a task that requires communication, regardless of whether it is verbal or non-verbal.
If you think your child fits this learning style, then try establishing some form of group study session or starting a book club.
If it’s just you two though, make sure they know you are present with them, as they will do better on any task knowing they are in the presence of someone else.
The intrapersonal student is what we could refer to as an academic introvert.
This student will enjoy setting their own goals, and working towards them alone.
They will likely be a little shy, and require their own space, but they love nothing more than getting stuck into a variety of resources to get the job done.
To help a child with this learning style, provide them with all the resources they need and set up a space conducive to learning for them.
The kinaesthetic student can be a handful.
This is the student that will perform best when given hands-on tasks, and when allowed to move around.
With this type of student, there should be an emphasis on the process of doing, as opposed to being passive while learning.
To help a child with this learning style, avoid the typical classroom environment. Instead, allow them to play around (within reason) so long as it is related to the task. Give them objects, and take them on trips to strengthen their connection to what they are learning.
The logical student is able to understand abstract concepts and explain them to others.
They can recognise patterns, and break tasks down into bite size chunks.
To help a child with this learning style, give them the tools to create their own plans and encourage them to organise their work schedule within a framework you set.
Learning Style Examples
Sometimes it’s the case that a child won’t favour one particular learning style, but a combination of two or three.
Learning about the way your child prefers to process information will help you personalize your home tutoring sessions for better results.
For instance, if your child boasts high interpersonal intelligence, you may consider tutoring another child simultaneously, so your child can indulge in the kind of healthy debate and discussion they find so stimulating.
On the other hand, if your child is a reflective or intrapersonal learner, they may prefer studying on their own and may require time alone for reflection on the material to be studied.
An active learner, on the other hand, will probably prefer to learn by solving a practical problem rather than spending precious time reading manuals and instructions.
For some kids, graphs and maps are extremely useful while for others, written instructions are far easier to understand.
If you are unsure about your child’s learning style, there are a myriad of online resources which can help you to accurately identify which one most fits them.
If you’re still wondering how to homeschool, and what is involved, then here are some steps you can take.
Talk to a Teacher
Find out what your child should be learning and aim to meet those criteria.
You should even try to stay ahead of the curriculum a little if possible so that your child will be somewhat familiar with the material they encounter in class.
If the teacher does not provide you with a detailed enough plan, you can head over to the www.education.gov.uk site, which will provide you with valuable information on what your child should be learning at each stage and in each subject.
Invest in Good Materials
Any parent who has begun the challenging task of teaching a child to read knows how useful books like the Jolly Phonics or Oxford Reading Tree series can be.
They are tried-and-tested resources written by highly experienced educators, and you’ll often find that kids take to the material like ducks to water.
The financial outlay doesn’t have to be significant, with entire sets of readers available for less than £40, and many books available from libraries or second-hand online bookshops.
Moreover, there are a host of free e-books that you can use for home tutoring.
Oxford Reading Tree offers new readers a host of free e-books on www.oxfordowl.co.uk.
Another site, www.bbc.co.uk, offers KS1 kids to play a host of incredibly fun maths, science and literacy games.
Use Practical Methods of Teaching
The Montessori method is a renowned constructivist approach, which encourages children to learn concepts and work with fun materials rather than relying on rote learning or standard textbooks.
The method often astounds parents, whose kids are able to do arithmetic into the thousands while still at preschool.
Check out this fascinating video which shows how a few simple tools can simplify complex mathematical tasks for kids.
It’s best to stray away from general praise with phrases like “You worked really hard today”.
Rather, be on guard and provide immediate feedback, focussing on specific achievements.
For example, “It’s really impressive that you were able to read the word ‘loophole’. The ‘e’ at the end was silent and you read the word perfectly”.
This is much more effective as a method of positive reinforcement as it will feel very personal to them.
Make Learning an Adventure
Don’t limit yourself to home tutoring sessions where you simply review the textbooks.
Take them to the theatre and the museum, spend an afternoon together at the library, or even just take your study session outside on a sunny day.
The more your child associates learning with fun and affection, the more likely they are to find their own motivation to keep at it.
If you’re feeling tired, you should take a break.
Otherwise, there’s a chance that your child might sense you are annoyed with them for failing to perform tasks quickly or correctly.
One of the key goals of tutoring should be about boosting your child’s self-esteem by showing them they can accomplish much more than they ever thought possible.
Don’t risk undoing all your good work by losing your patience through overworking yourself.
Share the Workload
If you are a working parent, then you know how hard it can be to find just one or two spare hours in a day to dedicate to a home tutoring session.
Your spouse and your child’s siblings can do their share as well; each family member can focus on a specific task they would like to teach a younger child.
The tutoring sessions can turn into a fun competition to see who’s making the most progress!