Getting the most out of home learning

Home learning. E-learning. Distance learning. These are all phrases that we have become very familiar with over the last few months. Children, teachers, parents and schools have all had to deal with a massive shift in education delivery; first here in Hong Kong and now all over the globe. What does this mean for the future of education in general? And what are the best ways to deliver this form of teaching? These are questions that educators and parents alike have been asking for weeks now. The answers are in abundance, varying very widely and creating debate, food for thought, and extending our creativity and resourcefulness.

Home learning at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

During a regular school year, in the early years, it is of vital importance for teachers and schools to find the balance between enough academic, social, physical and creative time.  Young children need to be covering the academics: reading, writing and maths. They also need to be focussing on developing other vital skills such as fine and gross motor skills, independence, communication and creativity. On top of all of this, just like adults, children need downtime, where they can relax and express themselves through exploration and play.


How does this translate for Home Learning?

Do we still have to cover all of these areas? These questions may overwhelm even the strongest of teachers, let alone the parents that this task has now fallen upon. The first and most important thing is not to let any of this overwhelm parents, teachers and most especially the children. Strong parent-teacher partnerships are the foundation of this home learning journey we now find ourselves on. Parents and teachers need to rely that much more on each other, and this relationship needs to be developed into a productive, unrestrained and open channel of communication. Luckily, we live in an age where communication is available in so many forms that are both versatile and adaptable. Recorded videos, blog posts, email and live video chat, are just some of the ways that we can maintain this communication channel.

Home learning at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

How do we refine what our content is within all of these channels of communication?

For that, we can look to the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) for guidance. The seven areas of learning can offer a great frame of reference. They can be used as a guide for what to cover, how, and the amount that needs to be covered. Firstly, we can look at the three Prime areas – Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED), Communication and Language (CL) and Physical Development (PD). For the most part, these three areas can be linked to those other life skills that were mentioned previously, namely motor skills, independence, communication and creativity. So, it is important to note here, that in actual fact, these areas are the most important in early childhood, as they fall into the Prime areas of development. So how do we achieve this at home?

home learning at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

Going back to basics, simplicity, quality and time is what is needed to develop the prime areas—spending time with our children, watching what they do, how they do it and then talking to them about it all. Ensuring that there is never any judgement and making sure that your child knows that they can explore and try new things and test boundaries. Through this simple approach, you are already covering creativity, PSED, communication and language development, independence and in some circumstances, fine and gross motor skills. By creating environments where your child can express themselves, you can strengthen all of the aforementioned developmental areas.


How do we do this when we are in our homes all day during this difficult time?

Create spaces for self-expression such as dress-up in mum and dad’s clothes or role-play working in the home office with mum and dad. Let them explore your music accounts or find some video tutorials to make musical instruments. Build a cosy reading nook together (like a pillow fort) to make reading exciting. Put cardboard or paper on the wall so that marks can be made in a different and parent-friendly way. By going back to a simpler way of approaching learning, the other things that make us all worry such as writing, reading and maths will come more naturally. This is where the specific areas of development of the EYFS come in: Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. They can be brought into the simple things. Stories and plans can be told by children and annotated by parents, thereby inspiring our children to write their own when they are ready. Recipes can be followed for some family cooking fun for learning numbers and mathematical concepts. Roleplay can lead to reading to find more inspiration for further acting and creating. Questioning how and why we do things, both by children and parents to each other leads to a deeper understanding of our world.

Home learning at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

As we all continue along this new journey of educating, we all need to focus on supporting each other during this time. Parents and teachers alike both want the same outcomes for the children at the end of the day. Those outcomes being a happy and healthy child, who is receptive and open to new learning opportunities every day. It is our responsibility to set our children on the right path for their own learning journeys through life. Let us all work together to observe, listen and take in what our children truly need so that we can continue to provide them with the best educations that they deserve.

March 2020, written by Jessica Lucas, Reception Teacher at Mount Kelly International Preschool

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