Virtual School for Families: Alternative Learning Experiences

With most children now home from school for the foreseeable future many parents will be facing the ongoing battle of trying to engage their children in home school. As teachers we are in a fortunate position to be able to access resources and provide an environment for our children to continue their learning at home as smoothly as possible. However, we appreciate not all parents are in this position. Today we are going to look at learning experiences children can have at home during this time that they wouldn’t be able to access if they were still at school.

What do we mean by alternative learning experiences?

Battling with your children to sit at a table and complete a math activity is not in anyone’s best interests. It can make you feel frustrated and angry and leave your child even more disengaged from the process. So why not focus on learning experiences that you can both enjoy? These experiences are things that children won’t necessarily be taught at school but now they are at home for extended periods of time, you can work with them to learn these new skills. We have broken down our ideas into age groups below.

Under 3’s

We have said this before put we cannot emphasise enough the value of learning through play. This is especially important for our youngest learners. They are learning so much about the world around them whilst they are playing. So get down on the floor, get out some of their favourite toys and play alongside them. Watch your child and be guided by what they enjoy.

Another great learning experience for our under 3’s is sensory play. Fill a bucket, bowl or water tray with slime, flour, jelly, spaghetti, cornflour and water etc. Let your child explore the texture, how it moves (or doesn’t move), even how it tastes (if its edible of course!). Use this time to encourage new language, build confidence and independence. Once you are finished playing they can also learning the importance of helping to clean up too.

Under 10’s

Chores, normally a word that elicits a chorus of groans. But this is the perfect time to teach your child those all important life skills. Making it fun is the key here, maybe they have a collection of teddy bears that need a day at ‘the spa’ where you can teach them how to use the washing machine. Sprinkle some cereal on the floor and challenge them to clean them all up with the vacuum before a timer runs out. Children thrive on success so as long as what ever challenge you choose they are able to experience success in at least part of it, it will be a valuable learning experience.

Another fantastic way to get your child learning without pressure is in the kitchen, there are so many valuable skills learnt whilst cooking that aren’t necessarily obvious. Hand-eye co-ordination to pour without spilling, weighing and measuring ingredients, following instructions and recipes, communication, the list could be endless. It is also a great time to get your child trying new foods, quite often when they have been involved in the cooking and preparation they are more likely to try the food at meal times.

Over 10’s and Teens

We all know that our pre-teens and teens would just sit around all day playing video games and messaging their friends if we let them so it is even more important during this time to make sure we keep their brains active and learning. By now most children of this age are capable of helping out around the house with chores, but have you ever thought about what else you can involve them in? What about the household finances? Most schools don’t teach children about paying bills and managing their money so here is your opportunity to help them out for later life.

When ever you are sorting your bills and payments get your child to help you, explain what wording on your bills means, explain how you ensure you have the right amount of money in the right place at the right time.

It could even be useful to give your child an experience of paying bills. Give them a reasonable daily allowance and a list of charges for activities like charging their phone, getting a snack etc. It will teach them to manage their money wisely to be able to get the things they want/need.

If you have teens that are nearing driving age why not involve them in car maintenance? Teach your child to check the oil level and the tyre pressure. If you are not on lockdown teach them how to re-fuel the car.

Remember not all learning has to take place in a classroom or at a desk. There is learning value in everyday life experiences. If you have any other idea’s of alternative learning experiences why not leave them in the comments below for other readers to gain ideas.

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