Seven Ways Families Can Carry on With Learning at Home
With the closures of all area schools, the majority of programs came to a halt except for one. Infinity School, the London affiliate of the Acton Academy program carried on, not missing a day of learning.
They did this by shifting their education community to home-learning using a combination of e-learning modules, technology (Chromebooks for everyone), systems for student-led learning, character-based skills – like self-discipline – that had been worked on every day, experiential learning projects, peer mentorship, and real-time connection at least twice a day on Zoom calls.
What can families do to ensure these next few weeks and months are valuable?
As many parents grapple with how to ensure their children are still engaged in learning, schools are scrambling to use programs and systems they aren’t familiar with, and parents are attempting to remain productive in their work with the kids at home. Under these circumstances, chaos is likely in the next little while where school is concerned.
Andrea Loewen Nair has some words of advice based on their experience.
Andrea Loewen Nair, Infinity School’s Director and well-known parenting writer, suggests London families change their expectations in regards to school goals over the next little while. She also hopes that teachers will use this as an opportunity for innovation, choosing experiential learning over packages of worksheets.
“The best use of worksheets is to create paper airplanes!” says Nair. “Now is the time to get immersed in real-world learning and not to be sticking to a content-based curriculum.”
Nair suggests seven ways families can carry on with learning at home:
1. Create goals the whole family feels willing and able to try (Use the SMART goal method).
Create goals early in the week and get together on Fridays to revisit those. It’s okay if some of your goals are just to get your children to wear pants and come out to walk the dog (with thanks to our friend Anna for that anecdote)! A good question to consider is this: What does everyone truly want to do right now? If the kids say, “sleep in and play video games,” remind them that those might be fun for the weekends but during weekdays, they are going to get some learning done — learning they are interested in.
2. Set a home-learning schedule
Create a schedule with chunks of time for things like reading, going outside, sweating (exercise of some form), project time, and academic skills like math, writing, and spelling. What are some ideas that your children have for what they’d like to do with their time?
3. Start a “passion project”
Consider what your child might like to learn more about or a hands on skill they would like to master. Examples are: getting better at an instrument, learning how something works, knowing how to make something, or developing a skill like learning a language. Ask questions of your child to help them identify what area of learning they are interested in.
4. Use online or e-learning modules
There are many free online programs out there, one example being Khan Academy. Just because Khan is free, doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best programs in the world. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than most. Let’s be grateful the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has poured millions of dollars into making that one available to every child.
Also, many museums and attractions have made their spaces available as virtual tours.
5. Stay connected
Use video-chat programs like FaceTime or Zoom to keep your children connected with their friends, teachers, coaches and mentors, and family members. Schedule time to show what they are learning, to ask questions, and have some fun. What cool activities can you do over Zoom: play chess, have Rubik’s cube races?
6. Engage in interesting discussions.
Have family conversations where everyone shares their thoughts and ideas. Our school is posting the Socratic discussions our groups are having so if you would like some question prompts, you are welcome to use those (find them on our instagram account: @InfinitySchoolCA).
7. Have fun!
Ask this question of your family: What are ways in which you can infuse your days at home with fun? If you’d like some ideas, turn to your community. I have seen Facebook neighbourhood groups full of great ideas.
Ultimately, the overall goal is to grow together as a family during this unprecedented, chaotic, and uncertain time. Ask yourself this question every day: what does our family need the most right now?