With the latest news from the UAE’s Ministry of Education announcing distance learning for all schools will continue until the end of the current academic year, parents across the UAE are settling into their new roles as home educators for the long term.
In an effort to support parents Dubai Heights Academy (DHA),a leading British curriculum school located in the heart of Al Barsha South, has shared their top 10 tips for parents to turn their homes into a classroom and to create a happy and successful home learning environment.
Alison Lamb, Principal, Dubai Heights Academy, said: “It is DHA’s primary objective to provide a distance learning programme that ensures continuity in a child’s education during the period of school closures. However, we are also committed to providing parents with the motivation and practical advice needed to adapt to the new learning environment no matter what the family schedule or childcare situation may be.
“Aside from getting to grips with our online learning tools and programmes, we encourage parents to take some time from their busy schedules to set the scene for an optimised learning environment for their children. Having a routine is crucial in these testing times, so trying out to some practical tips to create an optimal learning environment will undoubtedly bring some much-needed order into a brand-new home environment.”
- Make a dedicated space for learning – Children will achieve their best work in a quiet, comfortable and dedicated learning space. This is ideally where they don’t usually play games or watch television.
2.If it looks like a school, it is a school – Fill this learning space with learning-related items such as pens, books, writing tablets, blackboards and interactive learning games. By taking the time to mimic a classroom environment, children are better equipped to tune into the task at hand.
- Digital rest or take breaks throughout the day – this is helpful, especially in the younger age group with shorter attention span. Give kids ample brain breaks and schedule learning activities for short bursts of time throughout the day. It can be doing something fun or physical to keep them energised. Endorse regular movement breaks such as dancing to music, performing animal walks, doing wall or chair push-ups, getting out and about in the garden, etc.
DHA’s Year 4 teacher, Mr. Aaron Yasities underscored the importance of variety, he said: “The parents and children’s understanding has been brilliant on realising the importance of allowing the children to get some fresh air in the back garden or balcony, having a break and enjoying spending time with each other, as this helps their mental health and brings them back fresh for the next task.”
- Plan your work and work the plan – Know your child’s daily/weekly schedule and learning objectives sent via the relevant platform. Not only will this give you a handle on your child’s learning, but it will help children prioritise and learn to create goals, tasks and deadlines.
Adhering to a structured routine will give your child the opportunity to maximise time for learning as well as leisure time to produce a healthy balance.
Mr. Yasities added: “Ensure there’s a variety of tasks and lessons, this has helped engage the children and get them excited. From PE lessons to writing a story, Seesaw to Mymaths to literacy planet tasks, they have helped engage the children greatly.
- Digital quarantine – Ironically, consider limiting your child’s gadget-use until schoolwork is completed. Games, apps and messaging can be fun but also distracting. It might be helpful to allocate a basket or box where kids can keep all the gadgets tucked away during learning hours. Why not encourage other parents in from your child’s friendship group to do the same to minimise temptation. You can also consider using a desktop or laptop for maximum online learning.
- Team up with other parents – Check in with other parents to see what they’ve found useful or effective. Share concerns and helpful hints over a group video chat. Most importantly, be there for each other!
- Encourage and celebrate your child’s achievements and efforts – positive, constructive praise could go a long way and provide added motivation. Reach out to your teachers for advice on suitable ways to give positive affirmation. And don’t forget to pat yourselves on the back too!
- Expose them to new learning experiences – Learning doesn’t have to mean screen time. Excite their interest by creating small learning competitions among siblings or classmates. It could be in the form of some artwork, an interactive group game, or encouraging them to research something that is of interest to them. Let them experiment with a creative project like junk modelling or creating an artwork out of recycled materials.
- Stick to regular bedtime routines – We may be tempted to push bedtime by an hour or two, now that the early-morning school run is no longer a daily routine. However, we all know that adequate sleep is essential for concentration, motivation and general wellbeing. Try to stick to your child’s school weeknight bedtime routine as much as possible.
- Keep the lines of communication open – Try and make it a daily habit to ask your child how they are finding their schoolwork, and whether they have concerns. You may find that simple reassurance and understanding can go along way to boosting motivating and alleviating any worries about schoolwork or missing social interaction. Why not ask your child to write down their ‘Thought of the Day’ and have a discussion about it as a family? Or get in touch with your child’s teacher to ask them to have a video chat to get things back on track.
The DHA distance learning programme is in line with the Ministry of Education and KHDA’s directive for all schools to adopt interactive learning programmes for students of all academic levels and offers a broad and balanced curriculum to students.
Students have access to a range of interactive modules including My Maths, an online tool which supports maths home learning and enables teachers to send coursework which is pitched at each individual’s level; I Read Arabic for Arabic A students, and I Start Arabic for Arabic B students; Literacy Planet, a platform which aims to make English Literacy learning fun for pupils of every level; Linguascope, an interactive language learning platform and Seesaw, an interactive portal which enables successful collaboration between students, parents and teachers.