What used to be more familiar from the remote regions of Australia has also been part of everyday life for many German students, teachers and parents since 2020: homeschooling. Like any change, this is associated with opportunities and pitfalls at the same time. In the following, you will learn how you can best support your child.
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling in the true sense of the word means that the lessons are not held at the school, but rather permanent takes place at home. The child is not taught by teachers, but by his or her own parents. However, this is not permitted in Germany. In our country, there is an unavoidable full-time compulsory education, which comprises nine or ten school years, depending on the federal state.
So the terminology gets a little blurred: when we talk about homeschooling in the context of the corona pandemic, we are talking about distance learning. This is of a temporary nature. The teachers make the teaching materials available digitally until face-to-face teaching can take place again.
Homeschooling in Germany
As already mentioned, classic homeschooling is prohibited in Germany. Parents who violate the existing compulsory education law must expect heavy fines or, in extreme cases, even imprisonment. The corona pandemic nevertheless forced children and teachers into distance learning for a time.
Since many schools are not set up for longer-term digital instruction, there have been and continue to be considerable difficulties in many places, as numerous Media report.
Even if, as things stand, homeschooling will not establish itself as an alternative school model as it has in other states, it is still important to optimize digital processes. This is what Maximilian Henningsen, the state student representative of the community schools in Schleswig Holstein, is calling for. After all, Corona is not over and there are still students who have to isolate themselves due to infection.
According to a survey of numerous schools in the state, many students feel inadequately served by homeschooling. In some places, the necessary digital options and the accessibility of teachers are lacking.
Homeschooling due to the corona pandemic: what impact can be observed?
The corona pandemic has posed enormous challenges for the school system. During the first lockdown in March 2020, no one really knew how to deal with the new situation. Numerous students and their families suddenly had to cope with classes without faculty - overnight.
The additional burden on working parents, who in many cases are themselves in the Home Office The fact that the children had to switch to a different school is by no means to be underestimated. It is important to find a rhythm and to motivate the children - depending on their age - to learn at home. Despite the increased challenges, the drop in performance feared by students and parents cannot be confirmed across the board.
Insurmountable hurdle or great opportunity: it depends on the individual case
Whether homeschooling becomes an insurmountable burden or offers an opportunity for free and more effective learning depends on both the individual child and the individual home situation. This is confirmed by the following Study.
Accordingly, older students who already have a certain degree of self-regulation have a clear advantage. Children in middle school and above are able to recognize the importance of the learning material and work independently at home. Elementary school students, on the other hand, need Motivation and support from the parents. If this is guaranteed, there does not have to be a drop in performance.
Furthermore, the situation of the parents also plays a role. According to the study cited above, homeschooling poses a risk in educationally disadvantaged families. If the children are left on their own with their tasks, the risk of missing the connection increases.
However, this cannot be generalized: Even parents close to education who are simply overwhelmed by the combination of home office, lack of support and homeschooling cannot always offer their children the school support they need.
Homeschooling: The advantages and disadvantages at a glance
We have already dived deep into the topic of homeschooling. Now we would like to clearly compare the individual advantages and disadvantages once again:
The advantages of homeschooling at a glance
1. free and more effective learning
In a classroom with up to 30 classmates, it's not always possible to pay attention to the Needs and the learning pace of the individual student. Here, homeschooling offers a clear advantage: At home, it is possible to work at an individual pace and repeat content several times if necessary. However, this requires the support of the parents.
If the conditions are favorable, "one-on-one" instruction and especially learning without distraction from classmates can lead to improved performance (see above study).
Of course, social contacts are elementary for development, but not every Child likes to attend school. Students who suffer from exclusion and Mobbing suffer are relieved by homeschooling. This in no way means that avoidance should be a permanent solution strategy.
Nevertheless, the temporary distance can help to concentrate on the subject matter again without bias. In this way, even learning deficits can be made up. Only a child who feels comfortable can learn - and unfortunately this is not always the case in the school environment.
2. promotion of personal responsibility
Homeschooling is an effective way for teenagers, in particular, to practice personal responsibility. After all, they are suddenly solely responsible for completing the learning workload assigned to them in the given Time to manage. This requires organization and Time Management. It applies, Set priorities and to contact the teacher on their own initiative in case of problems.
If students succeed in homeschooling, this has a positive effect on the Self-confidence off. The children and young people experience their Self-efficacy in a whole new way. This can lead to long-term performance improvement. Those who have mastered homeschooling will no longer have difficulties with the simple organization of homework in the future.
3. more flexibility
7. 30 a.m. school starts, 45 or 90 minutes of instruction, then a break. The strictly timed school rhythm is not suitable for every Child optimal. Aside from the digital interconnections for the purpose of instruction, homeschooling allows for a freer schedule. The student can complete a large part of the tasks according to his or her personal biorhythm, as long as he or she meets the deadlines.
The disadvantages of homeschooling at a glance
1. risk of power drop
There are students who need the encouragement and sometimes the control of trained teachers. Their own parents do not always provide the same necessary discipline. The student must be made to understand that homeschooling is not a vacation. But this is not always successful. If the parents don't follow through, the student quickly misses the connection to the subject matter.
2. increasing load
Homeschooling is only one aspect of the tense overall situation that has arisen due to the corona pandemic. Many parents also have to work from home. Some fear for their jobs or have already lost them. If the burden of homeschooling is added to this, things can quickly escalate within the family.
The exposures of children, parents, and adolescents during the Covid 19 pandemic were studied by the Federal Population Institute and reported in the following Elaboration clearly summarized.
3. lack of social contact
School is much more than just a place to learn. Much of young people's social life takes place there. Homeschooling leaves many children and young people feeling isolated. They miss daily interaction and contact with their peers after only a short time. In homeschooling, it's every man for himself, which can affect the joy of learning.
How to support children in distance learning?
Successful homeschooling is primarily a matter of organization. In the following we would like to give you some suggestions:
1. create a timetable
Agree on a fixed learning routine with your children, e.g. one hour of German in the morning, then science and math in the afternoon. Let your child have a say in how the lessons are divided up! The important thing is that the agreed-upon amount of material is mastered.
In any case, make sure that the schedule is appropriate for your child's age. Don't be too ambitious or too lenient! Also, keep in touch with the teachers. In addition to subjects, breaks are also part of the homeschooling schedule. For elementary school students, it is self-explanatory that you need to allow for more breaks between learning periods than for older students.
You are not a trained teacher, but a parent. Accordingly, you cannot expect homeschooling to go smoothly right away. Be patient with yourself and your child. You both need to get used to the new situation first. accustom and acquire a (learning) routine. Of course, if you have more than one child to care for, the challenge is even greater.
Nevertheless: Keep calm and take care of yourself! You can only support your child or children effectively if you are balanced on the inside. Consciously integrate breaks into your daily routine and provide moments in which you can recharge your batteries. If you have a partner, you should share the care.
Taking worries and fears seriously
3. speak openly with your children
To prevent frustration and anger, it is important that you stay in conversation with your children. The situation is not easy for any of you. Take the worries and Fears your child seriously in any case.
Younger children may not yet fully understand the connections between homeschooling and the corona pandemic. Provide age-appropriate education without stoking fears. Encourage your child to ask questions.
Older children and teens may suffer from isolation or fear that their academic performance will deteriorate. Offer your ear and support here as well.
4. educate your children about safety on the internet
Digital learning platforms allow your child to learn and stay in touch with classmates and teachers at the same time. In this context, it is a good idea to talk to your child in general about the topic of safety on the Internet. Start by looking at the learning platform together. Show your child how to use it and how to behave there.
Explain the risks of the Internet to your child in an age-appropriate way and determine together a schedule for how often the Internet may be used outside of school purposes.
5. stay in contact with the school
Despite homeschooling, it is important to keep in touch with your child's teachers. Find out how this can be done. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure. Furthermore, it can make sense to form parent groups to support each other.
Conclusion: Help at home is always important
Whether homeschooling or attending classes, children always need support at home. As a parent, you can contribute a lot to your child's learning success!
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