Our fourth part in our series looks at supporting your children with homeschooling in KS4, the GCSE years of secondary school, from the ages of fourteen to sixteen.

Students from KS4 fall into two halves. Those in Year 11 who have had GCSE examinations cancelled, and those in Year 10 who are in the middle of their GCSE studies. Overnight, Year 11s have gone from being the year group with heads down and working at maximum pressure, to having very little to do. Meanwhile, Year 10s are working remotely at home, having five lessons a day. They will have to return to their GCSEs, but with two, three, possibly four months of formal education and teacher explanation and interaction missing.

Both situations are beyond anyone’s control with many questions remaining unanswered.

Add to this the extra complication of lockdown. This is an age group getting used to being independent, going out to meet their friends, pushing against the constraints of family life and surging with teenage hormones. Suddenly, they are forced to be with their families 24/7. This can make supporting your children with homeschooling in KS4 particularly difficult.

Between my colleague and I at Student Navigator, we have six children ranging from nursery to sixth form, all with very different needs and at very different stages in their education so, supporting your children with homeschooling is something that we are getting used to as well.

Structure and routine
More important than ever is to have structure and routine in your day. This includes having breaks together, eating meals together and making the week days different to the weekend, and for teenagers in particular, night time different to day time. It sounds obvious, but as the weeks of isolation continue, this will get harder, so start as you mean to go along. A structure to your day will help children feel more secure in this time of great insecurity.

Tips for Supporting your children with Homeschooling in KS4 (ages 14 – 16)

Year 10

  • Encourage your child to follow and complete to the best of their ability, the work that has been set by the school, checking they have understood what has been asked. They will eventually have to return to school and GCSEs so keeping up is vital. Provision varies massively between schools and even subjects, but generally, learning will not be as interactive as usual and maintaining interest and concentration will be key, so anything you can do to encourage will help.
  • Talk to your child about their school work. They might resist, but it is what they are used to at school, where they discuss their work, formally and informally, with their teachers and school friends throughout the day. Ask questions, discuss topics, share ideas and make suggestions.
  • Ask them to seek out experts and resources to ‘go to’ for help for each subject, as it’s unlikely that each subject teacher will be on hand to answer questions. These can be channels on Youtube (www.youtube.com), on-line resources, books, friends, siblings…or you!
  • Suggest having a ‘study buddy’, to discuss school work with. They might be embarrassed at the idea, but they are brilliant for practising languages, comparing answers, discussing questions and exploring topics. I often suggest this to students, who find that it helps them to find the work more interesting, fun and less onerous. It’s a generalisation, but girls are better at this than boys, so your boys might need more encouragement.
  • Incorporate regular breaks into their day to get fresh air and exercise.
  • Try where they can to make the work more interactive and creative, moving away, where possible, from their desk and screen. How would they teach this topic?

Ideas for Year 11 to work on

  • Research the A’level subjects or post 16 courses that they are wanting to study.
  • Look up careers websites and undertake online skills and aptitude tests.
  • Take up a new hobby or re-visit an old hobby that they haven’t had time for: art, cookery, sketching, model making, up-cycling old clothes, photography, creative writing, music production.
  • Write a blog, keep a video diary, make a short documentary film about these months and this moment in history.
  • Explore a topic of interest, which could form the basis of an EPQ (Extended Personal Project) in Year 12. This could be to do with current affairs or an area of history that they are interested in.

Here at www.studentnavigator.co.uk, we are offering support for homeschooling for primary and secondary students during this time. Please look at our website for other posts, useful resources and contact us if you are wanting individual support for your child, and depending on our capacity, we will support you.