7 Tips for Distance Learning and Homeschooling

Many parents have suddenly become homeschool teachers and many teachers are adapting to distance learning. That can be a lot to get used to. Learning from home is very different from sending your kids to school—but it doesn’t have to be a struggle! We’ve put together seven great tips that will help you master distance learning. 

  1. Establish a routine. It’s a good idea to write up a rough timetable for every day of the week so that your days get some structure. The timetable doesn’t have to be hour-by-hour (we know home life can be unpredictable!)—you can just block out sessions for certain subjects so that you have a clear idea of what you’re tackling that day. And don’t forget to include regular fun breaks! 
  1. Aim for short, fun sessions. Children (especially younger ones!) don’t have very long attention spans, and being tired doesn’t make for productive learning! So aim for short bursts of study time, and pay attention to when your child shows signs of being tired or distracted. Be prepared to be flexible—if your child gets tired earlier than you thought, it’s better to take a break and return to the task later, rather than trying to power through. 
  1. Get creative and mix up the ways you learn. Mixing things up makes learning more fun, and there are endless possibilities for different learning activities! Aim for a nice mix of video-based learning, independent reading and writing, games and quizzes, hands-on activities, and discussions. There are plenty of resources available for free online—for example, we’re offering free access to Twig Science Tools (K–5) and Twig Secondary (6–12), which both contain thousands of videos, activities, visuals, quizzes, and learning materials. 
  1. Learn with your child. Teaching at home doesn’t mean you have to lecture. Make learning time fun by exploring a topic with your child, and encourage them to think further by asking questions and providing feedback. Your child is likely to learn a lot more this way, compared to if you simply tell them the facts. Plus, research has shown that students find interaction with their parents very motivational.
  1. Schedule alone time. This might seem like it goes against the earlier point—but homeschooling is all about variety! You’re going to be together for the whole day, so some alone time can be beneficial. This could involve watching a video that is both fun and instructive or doing independent research and reading. We’ve prepared independent learning packs for grades K–6 that are perfect for independent study. Check them out! Teaching older kids? Twig Secondary also contains independent study resources. 
  1. Stay in touch with classmates. Learning at home can be lonely for children who are used to seeing their friends everyday. But with today’s technology and platforms such as Zoom, they can still see each other! A perfect activity is watching a video together, and then prompting discussion among the kids using prepared questions. For example, each week we publish a new episode of Twig Science Reporter on Youtube with exciting news stories from the world of science, including discussion questions!
  1. Find a “learning space” at home. It can be weird eating, sleeping, working, and studying in the same space, and it might make the parts of the day blur together. But if you create a space dedicated for learning, you can still have the routine of “going to school.” This can mean simply moving from the kitchen table to the living room, or even just changing up the kitchen table a bit to make it feel more like a work space. 

We hope those tips will make your homeschooling days a bit easier. If you’re looking for free science resources, we’ve made thousands of videos, activities, lesson guides, games and quizzes available for free—plus we’ve put together independent study packs for all ages. Find out more!

Northern Rockhopper Penguin shakes itself after swimming.

8 Feel-Good Stories to Brighten Up Your Day

Northern Rockhopper Penguin shakes itself after swimming.

The world can feel a bit gloomy at the moment, so we would like to spread some positivity with some feel-good stories from around the world. Let’s jump right in…

Less pollution

With most of the world in lockdown, travel has reduced drastically and many factories have shut, and this has had a positive impact on air pollution! China, the US, the UK, and many other countries are reporting pollution levels that are significantly lower than normal, and experts think that this could actually save thousands of lives, as people aren’t as exposed to air pollution. (1) 

Penguins on a field trip

Many zoos and aquariums around the world are now empty of guests. In Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the penguins have been enjoying the empty zoo by going on field trips, visiting other animals in the Aquarium, such as beluga whales and tropical fishes. (2) To find out more about this story, make sure to check out this week’s Twig Science Reporter episode! And follow @shedd_aquarium on Instagram to see where the penguins go next…

Animal live streams

Speaking of animals… some zoos and aquariums around the world are hosting live streams so that you can discover giant pandas, penguins, giraffes, and much more—all from the comfort of your home! Check out Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Houston Zoo, and Melbourne Zoo

Online museums and art galleries

It’s not only zoos that are going online. 2,500 museums and galleries worldwide have partnered with Google Arts and Culture to make their collections available online, through virtual tours and displays! Why not wander through Musée D’Orsay in Paris or The Museum of Modern Art in New York, from your sofa? 

Neighborhood dino parade

Even if you’re stuck at home for most of the day and have to keep six feet away from people when outside, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Last week, in a neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, people put on inflatable T-Rex costumes to host a dinosaur parade—with the aim to raise peoples’ spirits. Watch the video here

Socialising from balconies

Both Spain and Italy are currently on lockdown, but despite having to stay indoors, people have found ways to connect with their neighbors! In Seville, Spain, a fitness instructor recently hosted a workout from a rooftop, and in many towns in Italy, people have been singing and playing music from their balconies

Window rainbows

Around the world, children have been drawing rainbows and putting them in their windows as a way of connecting with each other. While out on walks or trips to the grocery store, children can go “rainbow spotting” to see how many rainbows they can spot! (3)

Wild goats on the loose

In a town in Wales, in the United Kingdom, over a dozen mountain goats were seen roaming the empty streets on March 31. With most of the 15,000 people who live in Llandudno staying inside due to the coronavirus lockdown, the goats had the town mostly to themselves. They were seen sunbathing, munching on hedges, and visiting peoples’ gardens! (4)

We hope these stories have put a smile on your face and made you feel a bit more positive! 

And don’t forget—we are currently offering thousands of learning resources for free, including grade-specific packets for independent study. Find out more here!

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/03/11/coronavirus-lockdown-may-save-more-lives-from-pollution-and-climate-than-from-virus/#4187c6b55764
  2. https://www.instagram.com/p/B9zx-xDD9DL/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51953553
  4. https://www.insider.com/shaggy-mountain-goats-welsh-town-lockdown-2020-4