Top tips to help children catch up with their ‘lost’ learning.

The pandemic has led to a significant loss in learning and severe disruptions to children’s education. Every parent or guardian is scrambling to find strategies to help their child stay engaged, learning, healthy and happy as they recover from such an unprecedented couple of years. Here are some quick and simple tips to help any child catch up with their ‘lost’ learning at home.

Help establish routines: Most human beings tend to perform better within some form of ‘structure’ or ‘routine’. If they are going to have lie-ins, encourage them not to overdo it. Encourage them to wake up at reasonable times to discipline their bodies and maintain their daily routines. And if possible, let them get out of their pyjamas to create a more ‘work ready’ mentality. Consistency is key. It may be a rocky start, as it is highly unlikely that they will have perfect routines from day one. Keep encouraging them to plan and prioritise each day until they have created some real momentum and routine.

Help them create their own timetable and stick to it: They could mimic the typical school/college structure to pace their day’s learning schedule as much as possible. Support them to maintain a variety of study sessions and extra-curricular activities in their personal timetable. Advise them to break the sessions into small manageable chunks. Their total learning time may be shorter than if they were at school/college but that is perfectly understandable and having a flexible approach to timings creates less pressure.

Allocate specific learning workspaces within the home: Identify several quiet study areas for them to choose to work from throughout the day. Some prefer to rotate the kitchen/dining table, lounge and bedroom to establish some form of variety. Others would rather have one specific learning space they call their ‘study room’. Whatever they decide to go for, let it be a learning space that’s free from distractions. If possible, encourage them to mute or put away their mobile phone and any gadgets or electronic devices.

Encourage regular breaks: Breakfast, lunch and breaks could be used catch up on social media, virtual playtime, gaming and other extra-curriculars. Reserve time for some form of physical exercise. And constantly encourage them to eat healthily, with plenty of water, fruit and veg, and a balanced diet.

Help to set realistic targets: Try not to set them over-ambitious goals. They can’t ‘conquer the entire syllabus’ in a day. Encourage them to set practical and realistic targets, neither too optimistic nor too pessimistic. Make sure their goals and targets are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) to give them structure and a way of measuring their progress.

Monitor their progress: Encourage them to do some online progress tests. Motivate them to aim to beat their previous score. Ask for feedback and where possible, help them to recap or test what they have learned. Retrieving knowledge one, two or even three or more weeks later is proven to help with retention of information.

Help them to reflect on their learning: Support them to be flexible and be prepared to tweak their strategy if it’s not perfectly working for them. Like all new routines, the first few days are always about finding their feet. Give them time to adjust. Don’t be too tough on them – take it nice and steady, giving them enough grace and space to adjust to this new ‘normal’ post-pandemic learning lifestyle.

Be flexible: Motivate them to be flexible, positive and open-minded whilst discovering their ideal learning style and approach. Use this time to nurture maturity within them and help them develop a genuine love for learning. Remember it’s all about quality not quantity, and there are times when less is more.

Encourage them not to hesitate to ask for help: Discuss with them about any challenges they might be facing. Initiate a conversation about any difficulties they are encountering whether academic, technology-related, stress/depression, social or anything else. You are no doubt aware of or can Google websites or YouTube videos you can refer them to for reinforcement and support, if necessary.

Help them develop a high-achiever mentality: Their success in their education and career is highly dependent on the effort they are going to put in now. If they are dreaming of a high and fast lifestyle; this is the time to make it happen. In most cases, ‘high achievers aren’t born, they’re a product of hard-work and a success-driven mentality’.