Ah, home schooling. The joys. For millions of us, we have been thrown into the unknown of home-schooling with little warning due to the closure of schools for the foreseeable future.
What are people saying about home-schooling?
Now, we love our kids and we love spending time with them, but already Gemma has witnessed many a 'Tweet' about how the seemingly wonderful world of attentive children, super calm parents, wonderful maths activities, diary writing and craft and glue have suddenly gone into the abyss, in a matter of hours, with parents tearing their hair out at the thought of this scenario going on for much longer.
"@shondarhimes Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week."
"@LurkAtHomeMom Quarantine Day One: This could be fun! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to homeschool! Quarantine Day One [at breakfast]: SO HELP ME GOD, MOVE YOUR FOOT AWAY FROM YOUR BROTHER’S CEREAL BOWL OR I WILL FIND A SCHOOL IN THIS COUNTRY THAT IS OPEN AND DRIVE US THERE TODAY"
"@SnarkyMommy78 No school, Day 1 7:15am: we have puzzles, activity books, stickers... we’ll get through this! 8:03am: *googles boarding schools with no coronavirus*"
And the list goes on.
How can I survive home-schooling?
Now for many of you, home-schooling will be fine and parents around the globe will salute you in admiration for your success. For others, you need that bit of extra support. So, let's put that in to place. Let's give you 5 top tips for surviving this home-schooling marlarky. Some of my ideas maybe controversial, some of them you may not agree on, but that's fine. Everybody is different, everybody's child is different, but it may just be a start.......
1) Go in gently. I've heard many parents saying they had mapped out the day just like it is in school with a 9am start and a 3.30pm finish. I also understand why. Routine and normality. Kids love a routine and normality, don't they? I know my 2 children thrive best on a routine and normality.
Let's just take time to think about this though. They are at home, in a different environment, learning with their parents, not their teacher and not a classmate in sight. Starting to home-school in this way has the routine, but lacks in the normality and for some children, this will be just enough to flip them (and in some cases you) over the edge. Many of you are working at home, yes? Are you doing your job in exactly the same way as you would normally do? I bet many of you aren't. You've adapted, maybe you've even been in you PJ's all day, had lunch at a different time and even had 1 or 2 more coffee breaks then you would normally. So why are we expecting the same of our children?
So I guess what I'm saying here is. If you only do 30 minutes each day for a week and it's a good 30 minutes, where you get the best out of your child. Surely that is more productive than battling with them. Build it up slowly over the weeks and ensure you have plenty of mini breaks (a 5 year old can concentrate for about 15 minutes at a time and a 10 year old for an hour).
2) Be organised. Kids love a routine, we have just established that, so now is a great time to get them to help put their home-school plan together. My son's school sent a ton of stuff home, ranging from online to paper based. For week 1, I sat down with Salvador and we talked about what a reasonable amount of time for home-schooling was. We agreed an hour and at times it was a tricky and a patience pushing hour, but we had both agreed it and so we stuck by it. We then discussed all the activities he had and I asked him to pick 3 or 4 to fill the time. This meant he was never spending more than 20 minutes on an activity. (However, a lot of the time that week he spent more time on an activity because he was really focused and enjoying it.) It also meant that if one of the online resources wasn't working, we had other options in place and had decided upon, that we could look at instead.
In that first week. He covered a range of subject areas and he could tick off his list when he had spent time on that activity. This (so far!) has worked brilliantly for me and him.
We are actually now having our 'normal' 2 week Easter break. He's still reading at night and playing 'Timestable Rockstars' when he wants, but our normal routine for Easter, is family time - school work can wait 2 weeks.
3) Be creative. Home-Schooling isn't just round a table or in front of the laptop, nor is it all English and Maths.
At the moment we are lucky we can get our daily exercise and get in our gardens. Use these opportunities too! We spent last week on cleaning duty. The list was compiled of jobs that needed doing and children picked 2 each. Ella was on bathroom and her bedroom, Salvador was on sitting room and his bedroom. We collectively did the kitchen together, which was actually good fun considering it took us 4 hours! (do not judge me!) You know what else? They did a pretty good job too and the house has been tidier since! That little act of tidying and cleaning has made them realise what work goes into keeping the house nice for the family. (for now at least!)
Ella has got her bake on, which she has never done independently before. Her aim is to make something each weekend. So far, we've had chocolate muffins, lemon drizzle and this weekend it's Easter biscuits! She's been busy weighing ingredients and because she's done it on her own her confidence has soared in the kitchen, now giving a helping hand at most tea times too.
Salvador loves his football, but instead of the regular training he has, he's been developing his kick-ups, stamina for running and ball skills in the garden. All the time developing his confidence and resilience too.
Easter cards have been crafted and sent to various members of the family, all gratefully received, I may add.
The kids have also been working on a 'Show' for Saturday night. We've heard them giggling and bouncing around and although I can't be sure, I think the 15 minute routine has an underlying theme of COVID-19! I'll let you know.
So, no, it's not all paper and laptops in our house, it's social skills, art skills, fitness skills, appreciation skills, life skills. Which to me are just as important.
4) Go with interests. I know you probably have a ton of stuff from your child's school already, but don't be afraid to break the mould and do something that you know your child has an interest in. Salvador loves his X-Box, so part of his work is to design a character for his game, listing their strengths, weaknesses and any special features.
He's also reading a book that he bought himself. My plan once he's finished is to give a review of his book in written or filmed format - I'll let him choose.
I'm lucky that I can share these extra learning opportunities with his teacher via email or Class Dojo, but just remember, whatever it your child does, it's not for the teacher, it's for your child. Don't feel that you need to share everything with them. The other thing to come back to is that you are not their teacher. Take this opportunity to listen to their thoughts and ideas. Maybe they can even suggest some activities to do themselves and pop them into the weekly plan!
5) Give yourself a break. You are living through this crisis too. So, don't feel bad if you didn't manage to do your child's reading with them yesterday. There will be another time.
Many of you are working from home, sorting out your finances and trying to keep your businesses going and this can cause some stress and anxiety so ensure you also make time for you.
For me, my philosophy of the moment is, "Take it as an opportunity, not as a problem."
Ensure you and your family are safe, getting enough sleep, eating properly, getting enough exercise and getting on with each other. Use the time to develop their non-academic skills because at times like these, they come in really handy and when they are adults themselves, they'll be able to call upon those skills you taught them then too!
So, if you are one of those parents hitting the gin bottle before 10am, I hope this has helped you a little bit. Good luck with it all - and if you need any advice or support through this time, just get in touch with either myself or Liz!
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