Guest post from Graham Coath
In my first article on home study I wrote about the physical changes that we can make to a home study space in order to help with comfort and concentration levels. What else other than the correct space makes an environment good for learning? Well, the answer here is complex. It will depend on a number of factors and so it is good to understand that everyone is different when it comes to learning.
Our 19 year old who is at University needed quiet when he was writing but when he was attending online lectures, these were often loud, lively online conversations. He is very focused so he can cope with distractions around him.
Our youngest learner who is 6 years old needed more of my time when she was studying at home whereas my older children, in particular, my 15 year old was very self-sufficient (until it came to helping with a presentation!).
With my children, helping them to learn in a way that suits them is key. Our 6 year old struggles to learn if she is sat still for too long and she finds visual information and doing things with her hands really helps her to understand concepts. To this end, we have purchased her an abacus for maths which she finds really helpful and we also started using this little copy board with her which was great as she could use it with paper for sketching, write facts or words on it that she needed to remember and she used magnetic letters on it too for spelling.
Our 15 year old however who has autism is only able to focus in quiet so he needed his own designated space every day. Specific disabilities or personalities can change the dynamic of what we need from a space in order to be effective in our study. My best advice, talk it through with your children, teachers, and experts. If you need professional advice, ask. Linkedin is full of good contacts with specialisms in all areas from autism to dyslexia, so reach out.
As a bit of a guide here are some links to websites that I found provided helpful advice around homeschooling for children with particular needs.
- The National Autistic Society
- The British Dyslexia Association
- Time For Learning covering ADHD and ADD
What was really apparent when I was involved in my children's home study during lockdown is that it is quite hard getting the balance right between keeping children on track in terms of getting the work done with them focussed and not allowing it to become a test of endurance with arguments. The key seemed to be keeping elements of play involved, especially for the little ones. I also noticed, reading posts from wiser people than me on Linkedin that many of us need to learn to keep a bit of playtime in our work routine and if we want to have not just good ideas but great ideas we need to have a bit of fun built into our processes.
I certainly found that by allowing my children to play around with some of the products I was testing out for work this helped to keep their enthusiasm for tasks high. My 15 year old who needed my help with his presentation was delighted when I let him use my Kensington PowerPoint Presenter to practice his speech. He also had great fun trying out different mice from a little wireless mouse to a trackball which he named a space ship controller!