There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has been life altering for many people at all ages and stages. While some schools have started to reopen in some places, many children are still at home. For some parents, this might mean having to answer some of these awkward questions kids ask. It might also mean taking on the role of a teacher, as well as parent, caretaker and provider, and all-round hero of the house. Home schooling can be difficult to navigate without any experience, so we’ve come up with some tips that might help:
1 – Break up the day
Studies have shown that taking regular breaks from classwork can improve concentration. We recommend making classes short, so they last around forty to fifty minutes with ten-minute breaks in-between. These regular breaks will help both you and your children refresh and reset, ready to take on the next challenge. There is only so long you can concentrate properly in one go. If you can, try to use the breaks to get outside or do something active. This way your family won’t feel trapped in the house all day, or miss out on any sunny spells.
2 – Set the scene
If you have enough room, keep your home-schooling space separate to where you relax as a family. Trying to unwind in the same place you’ve been working together all day is likely to make both activities less successful. If you don’t have two separate rooms for this at home, make sure at the end of each school day you pack away together and leave the space clear for the rest of your evening. You could also go for a short walk to mark the end of your school day and re-enter the space with a fresh mindset.
3 – Use what you have
It’s important to remember that your home was not prepared to become a school before the pandemic. Don’t get stressed out if you don’t have the right calculators, PE equipment, or art supplies – instead, have a think about alternatives you might have easy access to. Swap paint brushes for potato stamps, use the calculator on your phone and learn a YouTube dance like this one instead of trying to teach netball.
4 – Don’t force it
Your children’s education is important – but so is their, and your, wellbeing. While getting through a complete day of teaching without hiccups might seem like the only way to help your children stay on track at the moment, remember they, like everybody else, are under a lot of stress right now, and might just need a break. The beauty of home schooling is that it’s more flexible than traditional schooling, which means if one day you’re struggling to get anything done, you can take a break for the day and try again tomorrow.
5 – Creative subjects are important
When you’re trying to tackle a big project (does becoming your children’s full-time teacher during a pandemic sound familiar?), it can help to break it down into small chunks and prioritise the essential steps. In this circumstance, that may mean prioritising the essential subjects like English, Maths and Science, and getting to the more creative subjects once you’re more settled into the swing of things. While this is a great way to drip feed this new normal into your routine, it’s important you don’t abandon other subjects completely. Subjects like Textiles, Drama, Food Tech and History are just as important for your children’s education, and they may help to form their career paths. They’re also often fun, so can keep up morale and enthusiasm in the home-classroom.
6 – Collaborate with other parents (and resources)
This new socially distancing lifestyle can sometimes feel like you’re in this on your own, but thankfully we live in the technological age. If you’re struggling with one subject that you know another parent is really great at, reach out to them! See if they’d be willing to help your kids via Zoom, and even better if you can offer the same in return for another subject. It takes a village to raise and educate children – so collaborate where you can. Also there are a ton of resources available online to help support you as the role of a teacher and your child as a learner. Use them as a helping hand too.
7 – Be kind to yourself
This is a strange time for all involved, including yourself! If you’re not a qualified teacher, you might be feeling some guilt right now – like you’re letting your children down. This is absolutely not the case. In fact, you’re doing an incredible job for even trying and you deserve to cut yourself some slack. Try to remember that this is temporary, and you’re doing the best you can.
Are you currently home schooling your children? Tell us how you’ve been getting on in the comments below!