Are you looking for ways to support the education going on at school with learning at home?  

Perhaps you want to make sure your child doesn’t fall behind, maybe your child is struggling with certain aspects of the curriculum, or perhaps you just want them to do their absolute best at school. 

Whatever your reasons, supporting your child’s formal education with learning at home can be a really powerful tool to help them achieve their full potential, and it’s easy to do, when you know how.

You don’t need to be a teacher to teach your own children – teachers are undoubtedly highly trained educators – trained to recognise skills and difficulties, cope with large classes and deal with discipline, along with completing all the various paperwork that comes with the job.  As a parent, you only have your own child (or children) to work with, so much of a teacher’s remit simply isn’t required. 

The tools you need to help reinforce learning at home with your child are patience, calmness, the ability to recognise if they are understanding what you are teaching, and the knowledge of the subject itself. 

Even if your child goes to school, you can still educate them by developing their skills with learning at home.

Their homework is the most obvious way to establish what level of learning they are at, and it’s also a great indicator of any areas they are struggling in.  Make mental (or physical) notes of what aspects of their schoolwork seem to be a challenge for them.  Do a little research on the subjects and arm yourself with some educational materials of the correct standard. 

You don’t necessarily need to sit them down with the books but many children really enjoy doing a little different work at home.  They see all of the same textbooks, reading books and workbooks at school – something a little different can really pique their interest.  Download worksheets from the internet – you can even find themed sheets based on their favourite TV characters. 

There are even various interactive learning systems available online – usually these are directed towards home educators but there is absolutely no reason why the school educated child cannot benefit from these as well.

Take learning one step further, and make it all a bit more eclectic.  Take a walk to the park and use the trip to reinforce learning.   Simple things like calculating how long it will take to reach the park based on your walking speed and the distance, or reading street names as you pass them.  How many people are in the park? 

If half of the people had a dog, how many dogs would there be?  What makes the grass green?  What is the weather like?  What causes the rain?  Any land features to identify?  How about the history of the park itself?  Try to link one subject to the next as you go along.  This type of learning can easily masquerade as play and fun.  If the child is having fun, they are far more likely to take things in and relate to them positively. 

Select TV carefully.  Kids think TV is all play – but if you carefully monitor what they are watching, it isn’t too difficult to steer them towards educational programmes.  If what’s on today doesn’t appeal, trawl through video archives on the net – find the learning programmes you watched as a child and introduce them to the next generation. 

Even if it seems a bit dated and less technically dazzling than its modern-day counterpart, it can be surprising how valid most of these old shows still are.  Many of them are available on DVD too so are surprisingly easy to get hold of.

Have fun with your child – help them to become confident in their learning at home

Look for learning at home opportunities throughout every normal day, and make use of them.  Finally, remember not to become too bogged down in it all, because essentially, every single thing they do in life is teaching them something and that can’t be all bad. 

Sarah O’Reilly on behalf of Sopris Learning who develop learning resources for children & schools. They offer many tools & resources including a writing curriculum & a reading curriculum.