So here we are again in the UK. We didn’t want to be back here with our schools and colleges closed, but sadly that is the reality. I wrote this blog post when we had the first full lockdown in March 2020, and I have now updated it for January 2021.
With their school closed, students will be working at home to keep up with their studies and to prepare for assessment. In the UK, as well as many other countries, education is now being seriously disrupted. So how can you manage your child’s education if your schools and colleges are closed?
With their school closed, how can your child continue to study?
It is important that you find our exactly where your child’s education is situated with each subject. Draw up a table of subjects, with your child’s help, to discover where they are with the syllabus. If both you and they understand where they are with each subject, the move towards more independent learning will be much easier.
It is also important to discover if the school is going to send them work to complete each week, and if they will be delivering online classes. In the last big lockdown and in countries where schools were closed for weeks if not months, schools tended to send home blocks of work to be completed. They also delivered online classes, although feedback from students is that these varied in quantity and quality. Results from our survey suggested that most classes tended to be lecture-style delivery with minimal interactions from the student. They were very different, therefore, from the one-to-one interactive lessons with unlimited questions we deliver at The Tutor Team.
Bring Structure to the Day
It is going to be important to bring structure to the day – for their sake and yours! Probably the easiest way to do this is to replicate the timetable they already have for school, and many of our A Level students worked comfortably and happily having taken this approach during the last lockdown. But if that seems too rigid or is impractical for your family. you can also draw up your own study timetable. Either way, organisation is crucial. We don’t want our children thinking this is an extended holiday. That approach will backfire when they eventually return to school or college. Being prepared and organised will minimise disruption.
Find them a quiet place to work and give them space
Modern qualifications are tough. With their school closed, your teenager is going to have to work even harder. In order to do so to their best ability, they need peace and quiet, plus a proper study space. This may be difficult if you have younger children running around because they are also off school, or if they don’t have their own bedroom, but see if you can do your best for them. If they have their own bedroom it is easy to set up as a proper study space.
If you have an extra reception room like a dining room that you can make up into a temporary classroom, that would be ideal. If not, can you sacrifice use of your own bedroom during the day, if that is the only quiet place? Can you bring in a small table or clear your dressing table to use as a desk? I currently have one student working from the (heated) summer house at the end of the garden, to get peace and quiet to work. Think creatively about what you can do for them.
With the school closed, how do they study successfully?
In the first place they need to complete any work sent home from school and they need to attend any online sessions arranged by the school. This work should not be viewed as an option, but as essential as if they are sitting in the classroom.
Secondly, this is the perfect time for them to be consolidating the work they have done this school year, going back to the beginning of the course. They should use their text books and notes to go over the materials, making flash cards, annotating, highlighting and working actively to cement the knowledge they have accumulated over the the course. Most of the text books have practice problems in them. Encourage your teenager to attempt these questions. You can also help by testing their knowledge and helping them to spot any gaps. Flashcards are wonderful for this. Using this time to consolidate knowledge and make revision resources is an excellent use of time and will pay dividends when students return to school.
Thirdly, you can start them working on past exam papers and sample exam papers. This is good practice and will never be time wasted. Even if the exams are not going ahead (at least in usual form) this is good educational practice which will develop skills. Here are the links to the main UK boards, where you can find the materials you will need.
With the school closed, what else can they do to study successfully?
How about working from the text book to get ahead? Gather together their text books and see what is remaining in the course for next term. Getting a headstart on the work that will be coming their way is a very good use of time and will make the assignments much easier when they return to school.
This is also a good point to think about buying additional books if you have the funds. The main text books are often just an outline and the class teacher fills in the depth and context. However, there will be additional approved books for each course that will add to your teenager’s understanding. For certain subjects, like history and English, this is a part of the syllabus that is usually overlooked in the rush to get to the exams, so now is the perfect chance to deepen knowledge and, if I may say so, relax and enjoy the subject.
Thirdly, with the school closed and the syllabus unfinished, consider getting them some professional help. What do you do if they get stuck and you cannot help? What if they struggle to stay motivated working alone? If there is any way you have the funds, this is the point where you really might consider getting some professional help from a private tutor. A good tutor should be able to finish the syllabus off with your teenager, working one to one with them.
If you go down this route, please make sure you engage a qualified tutor. Ask to see degree certificates and a DBS before you pay someone to teach your child. If you can, find a qualified teacher who teaches the subject at school, college or university. This is an expensive undertaking and you will want to ensure you get the best value for your money, as well as the best possible outcome for your child.
Do you need a professional, qualified tutor to help with your teenager’s studies?
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A Bit About Me
I am Dr Janet Rose, an Oxford University Graduate and a trained teacher. As well as being a mum, grandmother and education blogger, I am the Founder & Managing Partner of The Tutor Team
Based in beautiful, rural Wiltshire, our offices are in an old converted water mill. We are a family business, where I work with my daughter Tess, my son Anthony and my daughter-in-law Anita. I am also ably assisted by Lisa, my wonderful PA. We understand parents’ concerns about their children’s education, because we are all parents ourselves. That’s why we set extremely high standards for our tutors and are very proud to have a team of 81 qualified, experienced teachers and university lecturers offering high-quality private tuition.