Family Guide to At-Home Learning

Overview

This guide has practical strategies that work for helping children of all ages who may be struggling with an at-home learning task. Families may find these strategies useful when helping their children complete various reading, math, and/or behavioral tasks at home.


Tips for Using this Guide

To use this guide, think about your child(ren) and which strategies may help them learn or practice a new task. Keep this guide close by as you help your child(ren) with their learning at home, and explore more resources at the links provided. You also can access this guide, and more examples/tips, on your Amazon Alexa device by saying “Alexa, enable Home Learning.

Model

  • Before your child practices a new skill, it is helpful to first show him or her how you would do it. Then, you can do it together before letting your child do it alone (“I show you,” “we do it together,” then “you do it alone”).
  • You also can show your child how you think about solving a word problem or how you ask yourself questions when you are reading.
  • When helping your child solve a problem or answer a question, it can be helpful to break the task down into smaller steps (“first…next….”).
  • Children love examples. Try using examples (the right way to do something) and nonexamples (the wrong way to do something) to help show the difference.

Clear Directions

  • Some children become overwhelmed easily by a lot of verbal or written information at once; giving easy, clear directions (one step at a time) may help your child focus on what he or she needs to do.
  • Using a calm, quiet tone of voice may help prevent a struggle in following directions.
  • Consider asking your child to repeat your directions in his or her own words, or make eye contact with you as you speak.
  • Pointing or using visual clues may help your child understand what you are asking him or her to do.
  • Praise your child when he or she has followed directions successfully.

Support

  • Show your child you care about his or her learning—talk about the learning task before your child begins working.
  • Children often feel supported when you stay close by while they are completing tasks.
  • Breaking up work (math problems, reading chapters or paragraphs) into small parts may help your child feel more confident about taking on a learning task.
  • Children love having choices—let them pick what they want to work on first, last, and so on.
  • Watch your child complete a task, and praise correct answers—he or she will love the reinforcement!
  • If your child is struggling, provide him or her with a clue to the answer, or provide half the answer and have him or her complete the rest.

Staying on Task

  • Interaction helps learning come alive for children. You can use household items, such as blocks, chalk, or highlighters, to make learning tasks more fun.
  • When reading a book, ask your child questions about the story, such as “what do you think will happen next?” or “what is the problem in the story?”
  • Establishing schedules and using timers may help your child understand when a learning task begins and ends.
  • Some children need frequent breaks from learning. When these breaks are predictable, children will be less likely to request a break and more likely to stay on task.
  • As much as possible, limit distractions from siblings, TV, and phones.

Specific Feedback

  • Children benefit from being told what they are doing right or wrong in the moment.
  • Specific feedback is focused on what children are doing (“I like how you sounded out that word…”) instead of their abilities (“You’re so smart”).
  • Feedback can be verbal (praise), nonverbal (thumbs up), or written (marking off correct answers with a fun-colored marker).
  • You can minimize how often your child practices a skill incorrectly by correcting him or her right away, rather than waiting until he or she has finished the task.
  • Children benefit when they are provided an example of the right way to do something.
  • Praise your child when you see him or her working hard and/or improving.
  • Tip: 5 praises for every 1 critique.

Goal Setting

  • Children feel proud of themselves when they work hard to meet a goal.
  • You can create goals with your child by asking him or her what he/she wants to learn or improve at, and why.
  • Show your child you have high expectations for his or her learning. You can do this by encouraging your child to try new things that may feel hard.
  • Having ongoing conversations about your child’s goals throughout the week will show him or her that you see the goal as important.
  • You can build your child’s self-esteem if you praise or reward his or her effort even when a goal is not met.
  • If your child meets a goal, ask what led to his or her success.
  • Celebrate as a family when goals are met!

OSEP LogoThis website was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Award No. H325A120003. David Guardino serves as the project officer. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned in this website is intended or should be inferred.