Creating A Conducive Learning Environment At Home
Author: David Dabney with Firefly Tutors. Aug 3rd, 2021
We have all been there. The kids want an extra 2 minutes on Tik Tok. Or a few more minutes of their favorite video game. It turns into 30 minutes and maybe even a couple of hours. Before you know it, they have eaten up all of the school work day. You have lost control of your homeschool environment. It is a mess. If it has been like this since the beginning, we know how hard it can be to make a change. Slow and steady baby steps can steer a day like this in the right direction and can make a big difference in creating a conducive learning environment for your child. Let’s talk about some strategies. Don’t get frustrated if one doesn’t work. Some work for a period of time and some they will take with them through the rest of their childhood. A mixture of all of these techniques can jumpstart your family in the right direction.
- Learn to rid their surroundings of distractions.
This may be the hardest, but most crucial to creating an environment suitable for learning. A helpful tip is putting your child's phone on airplane mode or enabling no wifi during school hours. Some may say to take the phone altogether, but you want to build that trust with your child. This eliminates time spent checking notifications from friends, or bouncing on a game for a few minutes. Every distraction can take up to 24 minutes to get back on task, so it is important to find a way to eliminate the easiest of distractions… their phone.
- Engagement Is Key.
Some lessons can be incredibly slow. Especially when listening to a lecture for hours about the history of Western Europe. Think of that but also being your child’s age. What would you be doing? Probably falling asleep, right? If your child is not engaged in the lessons being taught, there is a chance they may tune out. A great way to engage them (esp. If the content doesn’t call for activities) is creating a Jeopardy version of that lesson. Ask them the questions you have the answers to. Or have them create the question from an answer and have them be the host. As long as they are part of the process, learning will come more naturally. Make them write a song about their activity. If you are stuck on activities, there are free homeschool K-8 activities on education.com. If you are looking for more, we like “rockyourhomeschool.net’ Their profile is active on Pinterest with activities ranging from K-12th. Or maybe you just want to create one yourself, the skies the limit. Just ensure that they are part of the process.
- Exercise And Nutrition.
It is easy to forget about exercise or nutrition when you are on a tight schedule and the kids are running amok. Children have excess energy and they have to find some way to burn it. Giving them the opportunity to play outside on the swingset or giving them a physical outlet several times a day will help induce better productivity. Don’t be afraid to play some basketball or soccer in the yard to get both of your heart rates up. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to play outside. A great way during school work is to use a bouncy ball to sit on or armbands to use to stretch once an hour. Purchasing a standup desk may also be an option to keep them from slouching in a chair or cushion all day.
Nutrition is even more important than exercise. This could be the biggest inhibitor of productivity for your child. We have all heard of the “sugar crash” which is very real for even us parents. Instead of a bag of gummy bears or a snickers bar for breakfast, give them the option for healthier foods. Healthier options include a mixture of vegetables and foods rich with Omega-3s. During the school week a goal could be no sugary treats until after 5pm or only on a specific weekend day. If they are active and eating healthier, they may decide not to go for that sugary treat later in the day. Superhealthykids.com has 100’s of healthy and quick options for the on the go parent. You can have them help with food prep which gives them more ownership on a healthier lifestyle.
- Routines Are King.
A day can become full of pandemonium with a house full of homeschool kids. If you do not know what is going on for that day, do you think the kids do? Unless you have the most responsible of children, most days can be on the crazy side. For families with sensory needs children who have a harder time with transferring between subjects, this can be all the more harder to get through a day. A set routine does not mean putting an exact time on the activity, but more a set of repetitive activities a child can expect. It is important to not set a time to every activity but a general time so it is easier for them to transition from one to the next. Have them set the pace of the activity to a certain point. Always keep them a part of the process.
- Find an optimal brain function time.
Through routines and activities, you will notice that your child may be more productive during certain times of the day. Just like any of us, we may have a 9-5 or work from home, but we all have a time where we are more productive than others. Sometimes it is early in the morning and others are late in the evening. Find out what your child’s optimal brain function and productivity times are and focus their work during these times.
- Fidgets for the wiggly ones.
With the fidget spinner craze that has now come and gone, the need to keep our hands busy won’t be gone anytime soon. Sometimes the best way to concentrate is to have something physical in your hands to work with. There are visual learners, and there are tactile learners. Some are in between. Keeping a fidget at the end of a pencil, or a stress ball at the end of the desk, can be what gives them the edge to get their work done.
- Incentives for everyone.
Incentives can be the key driver for your homeschooled child. There are quite a few options you can try to keep the positive juices flowing. This can be anything from a point system to timed goals. The more points the bigger the reward. A smaller reward can be staying up later on a school night and a bigger reward can be having a sleepover or going to the movies. Whatever it is, make it enticing and relatable to what they want to do. It can be as specific as playing Minecraft online for an extra 30 minutes at night or or having an hour of extra social time outside. If you search “homeschool reward systems” on Pinterest there are hundreds of videos and photos of awesome rewards for your homeschooler to keep them motivated.
- Setting their own pace.
There will always be that time where there will be a struggle to finish work. Especially if there is a lot of it. Do not get frustrated but allow them to become a part of their own planning for the week. This gives them more intrinsic motivation to complete the task they made on their own. You can be there as a guide. If they are still having difficulty, cut up some of the learning curriculum into smaller bits and pieces and ask questions at the end to ensure they are keeping up with the materials. This will help show them they are more in control and will be easier to digest as they move into other subjects.
We hope that the tips in the above article help you and your child prioritize learning in a home environment. These tips can create a more conducive environment as they go through their homeschool year. Remember if one does not work, continue to work through the list and find others that do work.
If you are in need of extra help, an expert tutor may be a solution for you. Fireflytutors.com is a great place to start. Firefly Tutors have managers on standby that will take you through the whole process from beginning to end to ensure your child gets the best match for what they need. You can find out more here: https://www.fireflytutors.com/tutoring-solutions/home-school-tutoring