• Karen MB

How can I stop my child from falling behind during home schooling?

Several weeks into lockdown and the cracks are beginning to show. Some young people are showing amazing resilience and fortitude, ploughing on with their studies with enthusiasm and dedication.

But what if your child isn't?

Amidst all the positive posts on social media showing children working diligently at the kitchen table while Mum and Dad bake bread/ hold down full-time jobs/ conference call without a hair out of place or any PJs in sight, one would be forgiven for thinking that everyone is coping marvellously.

Trust me, they are not!

If your child is struggling to get out of bed/dressed/breakfasted before lunch, and all your noble plans for school-at-home are lying in shreds scattered around the floor along with a trail of biscuit crumbs, half-drunk cups of coffee and yesterday's half-completed science experiment, you are not alone.

It is hard to be motivated when you can barely (if at all) leave the house, and you don't have to face "Miss" or "Sir" to explain why three weeks' worth of homework are still in your head and not neatly typed up and emailed to school.

Stress and anxiety can do strange things to even the most assiduous student; gentle encouragement is far better than constant pressure at a time when many students are wondering if they will ever be able to sit exams or complete enough study to do so successfully.

But it is worth planning ahead.

No one knows for sure what the next twelve months will be like -- whether there will be a second wave of infections and more interruptions to schooling -- or even whether schools will be able to get back to any kind of normality during this time. It is important, therefore, to prepare for all eventualities. Ensuring your child covers as much as possible of the curriculum is important. Completing assignments is more important than ever. Given that final year GCSE and A Level students are going to be awarded grades on their performance during mocks and other internally assessed school assignments, it is particularly important that young people approaching their final year of GCSEs or A Levels consider the possibility that they too may find themselves in a similar situation.

Most tutors are making themselves available for online tuition. I was slightly trepidatious about switching to online tuition, but I have found that it works incredibly well. It is lovely to see my students, albeit at a distance, and know that they are keeping safe and well. And I get to meet their pets too, which is always a bonus! The regularity of contact is important and has worked well to keep them motivated and on task.

If you are concerned about your child "falling behind", you feel that they could do with a bit more support, or that they might benefit from some targeted help with specific difficulties, consider a short course of tuition. Sometimes even having only one or two sessions can help clear "blockages" or clarify specific issues in a way that helps the student get back on track.

I think sometimes parents are worried about having to commit to a block or whole term of tuition. That can be a quite a commitment in times of uncertainty. But this is certainly not the case with me; I do not require parents to sign up for months in advance or pay a term's fees before their son or daughter has even started working with me. Sometimes one or two sessions is enough to get student's back on track and re although of course I am happy to tutor longer term if that is what is required.

If you are mulling over the pros and cons of tuition and are really not sure if it is right for your son or daughter, please get in contact. I am quite happy to have a virtual coffee and a chat -- no PJs I promise, but please excuse the hair -- to see if tutoring might (or might not) be the right solution for you. My advice and support costs nothing and I might even be able to point you in the direction of some helpful resources.

In the meantime, stay healthy and enjoy the sun while it lasts!

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