Structure are reassurance are key to successful home-schooling

Stressed Female Teenager Having Problems Using Laptop For Homework Or Home Schooling

Keeping the communication lines open with your children plays a big part in home-schooling - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anna Collishaw-Nikodemus, local campaigns manager for the NSPCC, on how you can assist your child's learning

Last year was a strange and difficult time for all of us; our lives, and the lives of our children have changed in ways we could never have imagined.

The start of 2021 doesn’t seem to be very different and as we await the lifting of the current lockdown we know that it is going to take some time for things to start becoming easier.

For many children, uncertainty and worry has taken its toll on their mental health. Many feel cut off from their support networks. With more children staying at home and being out of school we need to continue to support them as best we can. Earlier this week it was announced that schools would stay closed until March at the earliest.

For many parents and carers home-schooling can be a daunting subject with many parents feeling under-qualified to teach their children. No one knows their child better than their parent and there are plenty of resources out there to help guide both parties on this unusual journey.

Home is crucially important right now. It’s a hub for working, learning and spending time together, but it can’t mirror an exact school environment. The added pressure of creating a perfect curriculum or trying to fill every hour with schooling can simply be too much and now is a time to be kind to yourselves and your children. 
Sometimes things can become too daunting and parents who are struggling have every right to reach out for support and help.

Children can give their parents the best insight into how they learn best. 

The NSPCC advises parents to ask their child how they’d like their day to be structured, then work together on how this could work (figuring in the parents own responsibilities). This method may encourage the child to talk about their interests and passions and it’s important to keep talking about this. Then find creative ways to incorporate these interests into the child’s learning.

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It’s also important to reassure any children that their school and teachers are still there for them and that they will continue to teach them – just not from school.

It’s likely that children will want to talk about the pandemic and Covid-19 and this should be encouraged, but try to keep things factual, straightforward and communicate in a way that your child will understand. 

It’s really important that all adults in their lives use the same message as it will help to build their confidence and reduce their anxiety. 

Where possible, focus attention on positive stories about people working to keep everyone as safe as possible; there are amazing and heart-warming stories in every county.

Actively listen to a child if they want to talk about coronavirus. Saying things like: “I can hear you sound a bit anxious about that,” can be incredibly helpful as it will let them know they’re being listened to and they will feel like they’re being taken seriously. 

Listening and praising children for sharing their worries can also help to reduce anxiety.

For parents working from home with children it can be hard to find balance and feel productive. 

Speaking to an employer about flexibility or seeing if it’s possible to work different hours can help. It’s really important that a parent doesn’t overstretch themselves right now and taking care of every family member’s mental wellbeing has never been more important.

Set up a suitable place to work where children can be supervised and make it a permanent spot if you can. It’s important to have some routine and structure, but be prepared to adapt and be flexible to suit any family requirements.

Together, we can be here for children in 2021 and beyond. There are more helpful tips about home-schooling from the NSPCC.

You can help the NSPCC and Childline be there for more children by visiting