All across the UK, schools have begun teaching in an unprecedented way and under exceptional conditions. However, as a UK teacher, my school team and I have been relentlessly uploading material to support children at home whilst they embark on this new journey of home-school learning. Parents have been handed the baton of teaching their children, setting a schedule for the day’s learning whilst managing their own workload. As teachers, we are here to support you through this, so I have listed some top tips and strategies to soldier on through homeschooling. We salute you parents!
1. Set a daily schedule
Children across the country will be accustomed to a daily school routine with behavioural expectations. From my own experience, it’s clear that teachers will have prepared children for school closures and that schooling will effectively look very different from the usual school day. However, keeping a routine will be essential for keeping children focused and shielded from all of the coronavirus daily updates. It’s even more important that this routine will benefit your work schedule also. This doesn’t necessarily mean 6 hours of schooling a day! Whatever works best in your household and keeps children learning is best.
2. Mix up your home-school activities
It’s possible that your school has set an overwhelming number of tasks to begin teaching at home, however any teacher that has reasonable expectations would not recommend pushing yourself to the limit to ensure that these are completed. It’s so important, now more than ever, to set realistic expectations for home-school learning activities. Having been in contact with different parents from my current class, it’s clear that they are doing what works best for them during this current crisis. If that means going for a walk (P.E), baking some cakes (English and maths opportunities) or doing some cosmic yoga, it’s what works best for you and your children. Mixing up activities during the day e.g. going for a walk, online activities and some written activities will take the pressure off of formal written tasks that, let’s face it, not all children will feel like doing at home.
3. Stay Positive
This one is harder than the previous two because it requires all of us not to dip into negative ways of thinking during this time. Lately, I’ve found it almost impossible to keep myself from looking up the latest story about the coronavirus, but staying away from negative influences at this time will help immeasurably when teaching at home. At school, children will (hopefully) be used to a lot of positive reinforcement and recognition for their efforts. It’s important to stay mindful of the language and words that are being used at home to congratulate children for their efforts and achievements so that they stay motivated to keep learning.
4. Get Online
The internet has probably never had to work as hard as it has over the past few weeks, but it is an amazing portal to online learning. Many children are taking lessons online with private tutors, interactive websites for English, Maths & Science activities. Anybody who works with or has children knows how instantly absorbed they can become when presented with games and interactive activities that work towards learning goals. There are plenty of useful websites that can keep children’s interests engaged and minds active in the learning process.
5. If something isn’t working, stop
Given all of the pressure and stress that everyone is currently under due to the pandemic, it’s best to stick to what works at home. As teachers, we are constantly asked to reflect on our teaching practise and evaluate which classes have gone well and which ones, could quite frankly, have gone a lot better. It’s normal to lose your patience and get frustrated if your child is taking 2 hours to write 3 sentences. Up until this point in time, children have come to separate school environment from home (a place of relaxation) so don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s not working. Instead, step back and see if there’s a different approach or an alternative activity that they could pursue instead.
6. Reach out to the community
If you are already part of a whatsapp parents group, keep contacting other parents for updates and support. Being asked to quarantine is one of the most trying times some of us will have ever had to face, however it’s essential to stay in contact with others in a similar situation and reach out for advice when needed. Equally, hopefully your school has offered contact details and you can reach out for support from your child’s class teacher. Teachers generally all want to help in this effort and keep up the learning at home as much as possible, so please reach out to teachers and schools if you ever need advice.
7. Believe in yourself!
As simple as it seems, it’s so important you believe in yourself at this time. You will get through this! Your children will have the opportunity to spend more time with you than ever and will be able to get all of the positive support you have to offer. Keep going with all of the wonderful things you are doing at home and mix things up to keep home learning fun and enjoyable. Before you know it, the children will be back at school and keen to share with their friends all of the fantastic things they’ve been doing at home.