Evidence for Learning: Home supported learning guidance for educators

Home supported learning guidance for educators

Clear and actionable guidance on home-supported learning, based on evidence from our Guidance Reports and the Toolkits.

To assist schools as they rapidly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, E4L curated the recommendations from our Guidance Reports to support educators to prepare and deliver their model of home-supported learning. These resources may be of use for home-supported learning during any other school disruptions.

Parental engagement in children’s learning and the quality of the home learning environment are associated with improved academic outcomes at all ages.

Schools should think about how they Provide practical strategies to support learning at home’ (Recommendation 2).

The practical strategies will vary depending on the age of the child. Parents of preschool children can encourage their oral language development and read to their children (see Oral language development). For primary aged children, parents can provide support with reading activities and general support in academic activity (see Literacy and Mathematics). For secondary aged students, parents can be helpful in setting routines and encouraging good habits and shared reading with younger students (see Metacognition and self-regulated learning).

For children of all ages, although especially pertinent for older students in home-supported learning, parents can promote the self-regulation in children necessary to achieve academic goals including goal setting, planning perseverance, and the management of time, materials, attentiveness, and emotions.

Parents can be encouraged to help their children set a daily study routine and encourage good study habits (like limiting other distractions while learning). It is likely to be particularly valuable to focus on tailoring school communications to encourage positive dialogue about learning’ (Recommendation 3) in order to help parents understand the specific ways that you want them to be engaged in their child’s or young person’s learning.

We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning.

Schools may consider using some of the principles of the effective use of Teaching Assistants as a way to describe and define the specific activities they wish parents to undertake in home-supported learning.

Use TAs/​parents to supplement what teachers do, not replace them’ (Recommendation 2) will help schools to set expectations of what role parents play at this time. Parents should be encouraged to help students prepare for learning and focus on the lesson. For younger children, there may be more interaction required in helping students understand the task at hand. 

Use TAs/​parents to help students develop independent learning skills and manage their own learning’ (Recommendation 3).

Support parents, through guidance and tools, to encourage: 

  • Providing the right amount of support at the right time
  • Students to be comfortable taking risks with their learning
  • Use of open-ended questions
  • Student retaining responsibility for their learning
  • Giving the least amount of help first to support students’ ownership of the task

Parents as Teaching Assistants can be applied to students of all ages, and schools can support families to engage with their child’s learning.

We have developed the following evidence-based resource for home-supported learning.

It is likely that students who have already developed metacognitive strategies and knowledge, will find the shift to home-supported learning smoother than others. Metacognition and self-regulated learning are understood to have a significant impact on student learning, and educators should encourage its development.

Explicitly teach students metacognitive strategies’ (Recommendation 2), will support students to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning. This could be very meaningful in students learning a new way of doing, which may require much more thought in the planning’ phase as they understand the task. The recommendation provides example questions that can be used as prompts during this process. Opportunities for reflection should be developed, particularly as students adjust to learning at home.

Promote and develop metacognitive talk’ (Recommendation 5) has direct implications for teachers using online forums or students working together virtually. While this is possible for primary students, it is particularly relevant to secondary students.

Explicitly teach students how to organise and effectively manage their learning independently’ (Recommendation 6) and help parents to support this. Teachers could use the strategies of effective learners, outlined in this recommendation, to communicate with students and parents what good learning’ would look like in the home.

We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning.

Three tip sheets provide evidence-informed strategies to create opportunities for children’s talk in early childhood education and care settings for children aged 2 – 5 years. Each of these can be adopted by parents with ease, and we encourage educators to share these with the families of children who are learning at home. School educators may also find these tip sheets are useful for families of students aged 5+, who will also benefit from ongoing, structured dialogue in the home.

Tip Sheet 1: Creating spaces for children’s talk provides evidence-informed strategies to create opportunities for children’s talk in early childhood education and care settings for children aged 2 – 5 years.

Tip Sheet 2: Curious about questions? Asking questions is a common approach to prompting children’s talk and participation in conversations, however not all questions are equal. This tip sheet explains question qualities and describes what you can do when the questions you ask are tricky’ for children aged 2 – 5 years.

Tip Sheet 3: Keeping the conversation going provides educators with evidence-informed strategies to sustain and extend conversations with children aged 2 – 5 years.We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning.

We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning.

Literacy has extensive scope to be supported at home and is often drawn on as an effective homework task. Our guidance on literacy is broken down by age range:

For younger students, educators can support parents develop student’s speaking and listening skills and wider understanding of language’ (Recommendation 1), by engaging in conversations and selecting a diverse selection of materials for reading, listening and viewing.

This recommendation is expanded for students in upper primary where we aim to develop students’ language capability to support their reading and writing’ (Recommendation 1) and may be done through similar means.

Schools should consider developing activities that build language capability appropriate for the individual student.

We have developed the following evidence-based resource for home-supported learning.

Keeping up with mathematics will help students to progress while they are learning at home. Particularly for younger children, highlighting activities that can draw on items that students have access to at home, may assist with engagement.

Improving mathematics for upper primary and lower secondary.

Use manipulatives and representations’ (Recommendation 2) may provide a number of activities that use household items and enable students to work in a way that doesn’t rely on technology or connectivity. 

Teach strategies for problem solving’ (Recommendation 3) may encourage students to develop a range of strategies that allow them to work more independently, which could be crucial as the student-teacher relationship is altered. This could be something as simple as encouraging students to use visual representations, which could be applied to all levels of learning. 

These recommendations are particularly pertinent for students aged 7 – 14 years but may also support learning for students who are younger or older.

We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning.

Throughout previous periods of home-supported learning, teachers and school leaders have shared their concern for the social and emotional wellbeing of students. Incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) while students are away from school sites may help to keep these students connected to school and set up for a smoother transition when full on-site learning returns.

E4L’s Guidance Report on Improving social and emotional learning in primary schools has six recommendations to support schools to improve social and emotional learning in primary schools.

Some of these recommendations can be adapted to social and emotional learning at home. For example, primary school educators could consider how to teach SEL skills explicitly’ (Recommendation 1) for students accessing learning online or offline.

Educators could also contemplate how they might integrate and model skills through everyday teaching’ (Recommendation 2) during either online learning or phone check-ins with students.

We have developed the following evidence-based resources for home-supported learning and the transition back to full onsite learning:

  • Supporting social and emotional learning at home, which focusses on building students’ capability to self-manage can support their wellbeing and ability to self-motivate. 
  • Supporting social and emotional learning as onsite learning returns, which contains tips and considerations for teachers on reinforcing relationships skills when students return to the physical classroom environment.
  • Leading social and emotional learning as onsite learning returns, which contains tips and considerations for school leaders on planning for school-wide social and emotional support to help students with the transition back to physical school sites.

All four recommendation from the EEF’s Guidance Report, Using digital technology to improve learning could be useful to inform the use of digital technology in supporting students learning at home, but it is important to keep in mind that these recommendations focus on technology in the classroom. Further guidance around distance learning and online learning is available here.

As with any change, thoughtful preparation is key to impact. Putting evidence to work: a school’s guide to implementation, is designed to support schools in thinking about good implementation and developing a plan to support change.

In addition, Evidence for Learning has developed an example implementation plan for schools to adopt and adapt as they define their approach to home-supported learning. This resource will support school leaders to develop a tailored implementation plan in response to the changing nature of learning and teaching prompted by any disruptions to schooling (such as Covid-19).

Schools should note that ordinarily an implementation process would occur over a longer period than is explored in the example, however, this example situation requires a more rapid response.

Every school will have been affected by school disruptions (such as Covid-19) differently and the right way to support students will differ between schools and must be informed by the professional judgment of teachers and school leaders. 

Our Guide to Supporting School Planning and Recovery aims to assist school leaders with planning for the remaining months of 2020 and into the academic year 2021. We also have an updated school planning guides for 2023 and 2024.

Implementing tutoring for students who require additional support is one approach that has been effective in catching up’ students and is being widely used to respond to interruptions to onsite schooling due to COVID-19 (and other school disruptions) in Australia and internationally.

This guide has been developed to support school leadership teams as they plan for, implement and monitor tutoring to support students. It explores the evidence on one to one and small group tuition and provides school leadership teams with guidance and considerations around common challenges and issues, no matter what stage of implementation they are at. 

Implementing and monitoring tutoring initiatives: A guide for school leaders.