5 things parents can do to support distance learning
This is an updated version of a blog post originally published on July 6th, 2020
Will school closures mean a gap in your child’s education? Not necessarily. Here are five simple ways to keep your child’s maths skills in great shape when learning at home.
Over the past year, hundreds of articles, videos and resources for homeschooling have cropped up (Maths — No Problem! included). But one thing we’ve noticed is that these resources tend to be standalone and don’t really give you a plan of attack for keeping your child learning for a whole term.
So we decided to change that.
What is a sensible plan of attack when teaching at home?
It’s realistic to expect parents and caregivers to teach a whole term’s worth of learning at home. But in the end, schools will be responsible for covering what children have missed.
As a parent, you can make it easier for your school to close the gap. And the best way to do that is to help your child retain what they’ve learned this year. This will give them a better starting point when they’re back at school, making it easier for their teacher to hit the ground running.
If your child’s school uses Maths — No Problem! resources, you’re already ahead (more on this later). If not, you can still incorporate these tips into your new at-home routine.
How parents can help schools close the gap next year
Maths — No Problem! follows a spiral curriculum, which means that the books revisit topics each year. We also have what we call whitespace in our scheme of work. That’s a fancy way of saying that there’s extra time in the year to spend longer on a topic if the teacher needs to.
When used together, not only will teachers cover ‘what children are missing’ next year anyway, they’ll have time to catch everyone up. If you can help your child retain the skills they already have, then there will be more whitespace for their teacher.
Here are five ways to use Maths — No Problem! resources to help your child retain what they already know.
1. Implement daily maths fluency lessons
If you are only able to do one thing to help your child with their maths learning, then maths fluency is the most important thing you can do.
What is maths fluency? All it means is being confident with counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These skills are the building blocks of maths.
You can use the Maths — No Problem! Workbooks for extra arithmetic practice. Start at the beginning of Workbook A and complete all of the end of chapter review exercises that cover counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Short, regular practice is more effective than long sessions — you can make a massive impact with just 20 minutes a day. Spend ten minutes working through one or two questions, and then talk through the answers together for another ten minutes.
Top tip: Do fluency practice at a different time of day than other maths activities.
2. Use the spiral curriculum to cover the ‘missing topics’
Remember the spiral curriculum? The Maths — No Problem! books revisit topics every year so children can build on what they know. This means that your child will learn the ‘missing topics’ next year, but they also studied them last year.
If you can help your child to master what they already know, they’ll have a better starting point next year.
Have a look at the chapters in your child’s textbook (if your child doesn’t know where to start, then ask your school). Ask them:
What do you remember from last year?
Can you teach me what you know?
Which questions can you answer?
Which lessons do you already know?
Encourage your child to write a journal entry on what they already know. Keep the focus on what they do know, rather than what they haven’t learned yet.
Top tip: If your child knows a lot about a lesson, have a go at the worksheet in the Workbook.
3. Keep learning fun with games and everyday maths
When children learn at school, their teacher will spend a lot of time managing and organising the class. So an hour at school passes by pretty quickly, but an hour of one-on-one tutoring will feel like an eternity to a young learner. If you’re trying to keep your child motivated, keep things fun — time flies after all.
Maths games are the obvious way to add a little fun to your child’s day. The Activity Time sections in the Maths — No Problem! books include games and activities that you can play at home. The activities are hands-on and reinforce the use of concrete resources to explain ideas. Start with Textbook A and work your way through the activities.
You can also turn everyday activities into a maths activity. Here are a few ideas:
- Bake a cake and learn about measurement, volume, time and fractions at the same time.
- Watch a nature show and keep a tally of the number of lions, tigers, bears (oh my!).
- Share out food or toys to help younger children to count.
- Engage in arts and crafts as a way to talk about measuring and shapes.
Top tip: Get siblings to do the activities together, while you have a cuppa.
4. Avoid replicating the classroom experience
Trying to replicate what your child would be doing at school is impossible. By spending a little bit of time each day on maths fluency, revising what your child already knows and making learning fun, you’ll help to keep their maths skills in great shape.
5. Make the most of Maths — No Problem! support
At Maths — No Problem! we’re working our socks off to make sure that you have the support you need for distance learning. So what have we got for you?
Think of Parent Guides as an online version of your pupil’s textbook and workbook where your learners’ parents and caregivers will be able to:
- Access maths content for their child’s year group, including lesson objectives
- Find the answers to textbook and workbook questions
- Get extra support as parents navigate the Maths — No Problem! lesson structure
Ask your child’s teacher about Parent Guides access.
School at Home
A dedicated parent resource page that includes activities for each year group, parent tips and more.
This iPad app supports remote teaching and helps learners make sense of complex mathematical concepts. The best part? It’s free to download for parents of Maths — No Problem! schools and non-Maths — No Problem! schools alike.
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