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Coronavirus has upended our lives in so many ways. Home-schooling is one of the confusing systems that parents, children and schools, have had to navigate as part of the new normal.

During the recent A to Z Blogging Challenge, I penned my thoughts on the concept of home-schooling under lockdown. I encourage you to read that post after this one for a broader picture of home-schooling in India, especially in Delhi.

My son is 4 years old and is currently studying in Nursery at one of the premier international schools of Delhi. Hence, his school was better equipped to start online teaching than other schools in the Delhi government regime, and perhaps even ahead of other international institutions. Basically, Delhi schools were shut on the evening of March 5 and we began online lessons on March 6. This has given me plenty of time and opportunity to understand what this method of teaching entails.

I recently ran a poll over on my Instagram page asking if people would like tips on home-schooling little children, ages 6 and under, and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. So, here are 9 tips for successfully home-schooling children under age 6. Please bear in mind, these tips are applicable only to young children, as their concerns are unique and I don’t have experience of home-schooling older kids!

Here are the problems I’ve noticed with home-schooling so far:

  • Younger children don’t stay attentive for long periods of time
  • Excessive screen time is worrisome for parents
  • Parents have to be involved with the lessons, which is difficult for those working from home and managing households
  • Availability of gadgets may be an issue as parents juggle their laptops for work meetings as well as different classes, if there is more than one child
  • Class timings are inconvenient for many reasons

However, I believe that home-schooling has its merits too.

Here’s why I think home-schooling younger children through the lockdown is essential:

  • It encourages routine and structure, which will allow them to readjust to school life eventually
  • It encourages routine and structure which helps in keeping them positive and mentally active
  • It keeps your child’s educational journey running smoothly without breaks
  • It eases the pressure off parents- at least a little!
  • It allows children to stay in touch with their friends and helps in socialisation, even though in a simulated environment

Though online teaching and home-schooling are not the best methods of educating young children, they are a necessity in these times. If it’s a struggle for you, try these tips to make the experience as smooth as possible.

TIPS FOR HOME-SCHOOLING CHILDREN UNDER AGE 6:

  1. BE PATIENT

If there’s only one piece of advice you take from this post, make it this one. You need to be extra patient, super calm and particularly resilient when it comes to home-schooling little ones. They have not yet learnt the art of concentration, and in many cases, aren’t used to screens in general. You must deal with their tantrums and lack of attention with patience. Take a deep breath or log out of the class if you’re feeling really frustrated.

Further, if home-schooling is not working for your child or for you, then opt out of it. At such a young age, school curriculum is not the biggest education- life and the lessons imparted by happy parents are.

Try your best to make your children focus on lessons, but don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s not working out. Every child is different, every situation is unique.

  1. BE INVOLVED

Any method of online teaching, especially for little ones, can be successful only if the teachers and parents merge their roles together. This requires full-time involvement on the part of the parents. If you’re not sitting with your children through the lessons, and engaging in the activities with them, they are less likely to concentrate on the task at hand.

Both parents and possibly other family members can divide lessons amongst themselves, if it gets too much for one parent.

  1. KEEP COMMUNICATING WITH THE TEACHERS

If this is a new experience for you and for your children, it’s also new for the teachers. You will face problems of communication, quality and resourcefulness. However, it’s essential that you keep the conversation lines open with the teachers.

Refrain from taking your frustration out by yelling at them, but you may politely offer advice or constructive criticism.

For example, one of the problems we face is the frequent halting of the picture during lessons. I discovered that it happens less if the microphones of all children are kept off. Though we don’t have control over muting every participant, we requested the teacher to mute everyone, in order to make the lesson smoother and more appealing.

  1. WORK AROUND YOUR SCHEDULE

If you are working from home, you should skip the live lessons and view the recording with your child at a convenient time. This will ensure your involvement in the lesson, without cutting into your work hours and productivity. The same applies to home-makers as well!

However, make sure you communicate with the teachers about your child’s progress and keep sharing your child’s work.

  1. WORK AROUND YOUR CHILD’S PERSONALITY AND PREFERENCES

My son, though an early riser, dislikes being put in front of a screen first thing in the morning. Hence, we have been skipping the morning live lessons since a few weeks. Instead, we view its recording every afternoon and this simple change has worked wonders for us. I can pause the lesson at leisure and ask my son questions in an engaging manner, which allows him to remember what is taught to him.

Tweak the lessons as per your child’s personality and preferences. Be mindful of the hours of the day in which your child is most responsive and mentally active, and do the lessons at those times.

  1. KEEP CHANGING THE LOCATION WHERE YOU TAKE THE CLASSES, IF POSSIBLE

Simply changing up the location where you attend the class from one bedroom to another, helps in getting the little ones excited for lessons.

For example, whenever we have some sort of water play or paint involved in a lesson, we do it in the balcony. I often ask my son to decide the room he’d like to do the lesson in, which makes him excited to attend it.

  1. ENCOURAGE HEALTHY COMPETITION

For 4 and 5 year olds, there isn’t much you can do in terms of educational competition with their peers! However, when I encourage my son to say numbers faster than others, or respond with the correct answer before other kids, he stays more focused and attentive throughout the lesson.

Bear in mind, we are usually on mute and the teachers and children aren’t listening to his answers. However, he feels that he has accomplished something, which is most important in this situation.

  1. DON’T YELL AT/ PUNISH YOUR CHILDREN

I must confess that I have yelled at my son and instantly regretted it, which made me realise it’s not worth the anguish caused to either of us. Little children are far more likely to concentrate on their lessons and thrive academically through appreciation rather than punishment.

Refer to point 1 above and just be patient with them instead.

  1. APPRECIATE THE SMALL ACHIEVEMENTS AND OFFER REWARDS

Don’t shy away from encouraging and lauding every attempt to answer a question, even if the answer is incorrect. It will make your child more focused and ready to answer more questions. Sometimes, if your child is really distracted, you could offer a little reward in exchange for concentration during the lesson.

Consciously celebrate the weekends as lesson-free days. Though it may sound counter-productive, it ensures a sense of normalcy essential to your child’s return to regular schooling eventually.

These are the 9 broad tips that have helped us get through online home-schooling so far. There are only two weeks before summer vacations, but with no cure in sight and social distancing norms likely to stay in place till a vaccine is announced, home-schooling seems here to stay.

Let me know your tips for home-schooling little children. Please share this article with someone that may find it useful. If you like my content, please subscribe to my website and let me know what else you’d like to read from me!

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action. 

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55 Comments

  1. Such a timely post Noor and you had shared really great tips for home schooling kids. I agree with little kids, you have to be patient and need to be involved with their activities. and yes, appreciating efforts with rewards always does wonder for kids.

  2. Thanks Noor for sharing tips for homeschooling kids. And it’s so great to see so many homeschooling moms! And after all teaching kids really strengthens the bond between mother and child.

  3. In the UK we are following the same routine. I agree homeschooling is not easy with young kids and we all are trying our best. Great tips you shared and much needed in this time.

  4. Even my younger one has started nursery this year and it’s really tough as it’s tough for her to understand that this laptop is my school. And ofcourse the attention span they have, sitting at one place, following instructions all is a test for parents only.

  5. I am hearing from parents all the time about this challenge and this post is so well researched and timely that it will be a huge help to folks everywhere. Will share this across to some freinds

  6. Hey we homeschool not bcoz of quarantine but bcoz we do it otherwise too. My son ha a never been to school. I wrote a beautiful article on self directed learning recently , check if it helps you or your followers. Good tips on homeschooling

  7. Thanks for the awesome tips,I really needed it homeschooling for younger ones is a difficult challenge.

  8. These are some good tips you have highlighted .. our school is on summer break now but b4 that we had online classes for 2 weeks n yes kids loose attention after sme tme n I use to make sure I sit for both my kids classes…

  9. I have two children who are learning the ways of the new normal. They were used to studying in a classroom setting with other children for company, but the Covid19 situation has changed everything for them. No more outdoor activities, no more running in the corridor … it’s a shame they have to go through this. The least we can do is to be patient with them and help them cope up with such difficult times. Good article by the way!

  10. Homeschooling or should I say online learning is little bit tricky for young kids because they don’t understand th concept of it. They are more comfortable with having someone teaching them in person. And that is quite natural. My son will be 4 in a couple of months and his teacher decided to have a Zoom meeting once a week but since the kids were not very focused also the it was hard to convince a few of them that this is their class, she decided to send us a recorded video and continued the zoom seesions just to say hi, hello to the kids. This worked perfect for everyone.

    1. Yes that would be an ideal solution but in India, the parents start squabbling about fees if we rely solely on recorded sessions! Plus, the live Zoom classes are important for the teacher to view the child’s actual progress. It’s a tough call to make for sure!

      1. I agree. The weekly zoom was for revising the alphabets and any special events that would have happened in normal school days. Video recording was for the lessons accompanied with worksheets via email.

  11. My sister believes in home schooling and is successfully teaching her 3 year old at home. She will directly enter her son in standard 1.

  12. I’ve never had to homeschool my kids and did struggle a bit initially during the lockdown. It isn’t too difficult when you have it all planned and the kids get a hang of it too. Can be fun!

  13. As someone who isn’t a Mom, I don’t have a view on this subject. However homeschooling could very well be the future, and your tips are sure to come in handy to parents who choose to do so.

  14. Home schooling has seriously put me in worry as my daughter has lack of concentration and she always complain about my eyes are burning … So well explained noor as a parent we all are facing…

  15. This post is so useful for moms like me. My daughter is 4 years old too and with her school shut, things have become very monotonous for her.

  16. Your points are really helpful because these days everyone is doing home schooling . Even my son is also on home schooling now . I loved the post .

  17. These are some really helpful and practical tips for home schooling young children. Even though the idea of online classes seemed difficult in the beginning, we have now adapted well to the home schooling set up. We have set a fixed routine for weekdays, from wake up time to attending class, nap time, an hr of screen time & then finishing homework in the evening, this routine has helped a lot.

  18. Thanks for sharing this post, it’s need of hour! Home schooling is really important nowadays when you are uncertain about their school re-open.. it’s requires more patience specially with toddlers

  19. You know I have had discussions on home schooling with a lot of parents whose kids came to my academy Noor and many a times I kind of gave in to their strong belief of home schooling their kids. I am old school in this though. Loved reading your post

  20. I like the way you included being Patient as first point because if one has patience then they can do any task, handle all situations and live peaceful life.

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