Good home learning opportunities are crucial to ensuring children of all ages are able to access a high-quality education and continue to learn and develop. But how do you define ‘good’ home learning? What does a good one look like?
From exploring guidance, resources, feedback and research online, the key take-away for me has been that one size does not fit all. Educators need to be able to decide how to deliver the learning to their pupils. There are many factors to consider and the needs of pupils should be at the centre. However, that’s not to say that teachers’ and parents’ needs are not important parts of the equation. They absolutely are!
Additionally, it is important to note that when we talk about home learning, we should not only think of academic learning. Creative opportunities, physical education and learning that supports emotional and social development are a vital part of pupils’ education and their wellbeing.
In recognition of this, I thought I would share some things to consider that have shone through in the research I’ve undertaken, under the heading of…
Five elements for good home learning
Here are five elements I believe to be key to good home learning, along with questions you can ask yourself and your leaders to assess your home learning strategy.
· Can all your pupils access their learning?
· How is the digital divide being addressed?
· Are your lessons and resources accessible to all? (e.g., Would they be suitable for someone with a visual or hearing impairment?)
· How are you supporting learners and parents with SEND?
· How are you supporting learners and parents with EAL?
· Are any of your pupils being disadvantaged by the home learning approach?
· How will you know your learners and parents are able to access the content?
· Have you provided guidance to parents and learners?
· How are you asking for learning to be recorded? Are there options for learners to choose the method that works best for their individual needs?
· Are your pupils receiving individual feedback?
· Are your parents able to receive individual feedback and guidance?
· Are there opportunities for individual challenge?
· Have you considered the scaffolding and resources that individual pupils may need?
· Are there opportunities for pupils to be praised for their work?
· Do pupils have opportunities to make choices in their learning?
· Do individuals know their next learning steps?
· Do some of your pupils need opportunities for additional support and contact?
· Is your school sending regular communications to parents?
· Do your parents have opportunities to communicate with you?
· Do your learners have opportunities to communicate with you?
· Are there opportunities for pupils to access peer support?
· Have you provided ways learners and parents can ask for support?
· Are communications manageable?
· Are pupils and parents aware of how to ensure communications are respectful?
· Have you made expectations of learning clear?
· Do parents and learners know how and when to respond?
· Are the communications accessible for all?
· Are there options for how parents and pupils can communicate to help meet their needs?
· Are learners having enough breaks?
· Are there creative opportunities for learners?
· How much work is being set? How high are the expectations?
· Are considerations being made for individual learners in regard to workload? (e.g., some learners may benefit from additional time to complete activities, learners need to know which tasks are a priority and so on.)
· Are there learning opportunities that focus on social and emotional wellbeing?
· Are there physical activities for pupils to do?
· Are there opportunities for pupils to learn outdoors?
· Can learners access content in their own time?
· Do parents feel understood and supported?
· Do learners feel supported? Do they feel comfortable asking for help?
· Are there opportunities for pupils to socialise or take part in group work?
· Do pupils have opportunities to talk to you about their feelings?
· Is your school considering your wellbeing?
· Is your workload acceptable?
· Are you able to have a suitable work/life balance?
· Do you feel supported by your school?
· Does your school trust you to make decisions and try new things?
· Are your expectations clear and consistent?
· Do you have strategies in place for behaviour?
· If you have online lessons, are these at regular times?
· Do you provide parents with any recommended timetables?
· If you teach online lessons, are you being mindful of your timings?
· Do you have consistent methods of communication and access?
· If there is a change or you are trying something new, are your learners or parents informed beforehand?
· Are learners who are in intervention groups or who would work 1:1 with a TA able to access any of their usual support? If so, is it regular?
Resources and guidance
There are so many great resources available on the topic of home learning, which is really helpful, but it can also be quite overwhelming. This can make it difficult to know where to start and to find the time to search for what you need. Also, it isn’t just about collecting this information or resources; you should also take the time to evaluate them to see if they work for you and your pupils. To see a collection of guidance, activities, podcasts, vlogs and Tweets please check out my Home Learning Wakelet.