Don't give up your day job! Tips for getting through home schooling.
When I was little (yep many moons ago), I wanted to be a teacher. I used to pretend I was a teacher and my school friends and I would take it in turns to read stories to each other and take our own lessons. I loved learning and I was pretty inspired by a number of teachers but one English teacher in particular made me want to be like her. Off I went to University to study English and Drama with the aim of teaching. I got my degree but decided to take another path instead and then ........(I won't bore you with the in between bits) I ended up doing the one thing I was born and LOVE to do!
So when faced with the prospect of home schooling, my initial thoughts were "bring it on", "I've got this", "how difficult can it be", "surely I'm clever enough for year 2 work"!!!
So fast forward to day 5, several bottles of wine, a large amount of chocolate, lots of deep breathing, muttering under my breath, rocking in the corner and more Joe Wicks than my calf muscles can take, we have kind of found our groove. I am certainly not going to give up the day job and I totally realise that I did end up in the right vocation but we've kind of done alright. I refer to the royal 'we', which is my husband. It does help that he is a teacher of course but as a PE teacher, he has had to adapt too. Anyway, together we have got through the first week, survived and can share our top tips of what has worked.
1. Try and get some sort of routine going. It doesn't need to be minute by minute but broken down into chunks of a normal school day will help. We have broken ours up into 5 blocks of school work, between normal school hours of 9-3 and we keep the same lunch time each day. Each morning we look at what has been set by school and fill in our slots, any spaces are then down to us to think of a task and the other tips below might help you to fill these in too.
2. Exercise has been a saviour to get our day started. We managed to survive the intensity of Joe Wicks workouts for the first 3 but we mixed it up towards to the end as we were getting a little sore and needed to break it up a bit. Take a look at Jump Start Jonny www.facebook.com/jumpstartjonny or Oti Mabuse's www.facebook.com/otimabuse dance work outs. Both are aimed and kids and are more of a dance style exercise video. You may want to just pop on some music and dance away, kick a football around the garden or take 10 minutes to walk or cycle round your streets (within social distancing rules). Set up an obstacle challenge in the garden, play catch anything to get the body moving and release some endorphins for the rest of the day.
3.Stick them in front of the TV or computer! Yes, I mean it, there are lots of amazing educational things to watch right now. Doing this gives them a chance to learn and you the chance to take a break and catch up with your work too. Here are a few of what we have found so far;
4. Get creative. Being creative is something for all the family and there are so many things you can do, whilst they learn at the same time. We've drawn rainbows for our windows and chalked them on the pavements outside, we've made lovely art to send to all the great grandparents as well as letters to go with them. We have some Easter projects to start next week, using all of our recycled rubbish and bits and bobs round the house. A chance to use the empty loo rolls too if you have some! or dried pasta, albeit you may not want to use too much of that. Try some painting, or if you don't have any paint, use water - magic paint we call it. Let them loose on the pavements and patios. Dig out the lego or any "craft and make gifts" that they may still have from Xmas.
5. Keep lunch time separate and ration the food. I don't know about anyone else but it is so easy to snack all day when you are home. We are trying not to get into this habit so we are planning the lunches in advance each day. You can make it educational too. Label how much each item would cost for their lunch and get them to add up how much they are spending.
6. If there are two parents at home, educating together, try and divide up subjects so that you're not both trying to teach in different ways. Or take one day each.
7. Let the children face time or call their friends. We have found this so important. So at the end of each day, we allow them both to choose to speak with one person each so they have some communication with the outside world. Messenger on Facebook is great because of the effects and activities. Give it a try and them to screenshot their call to create a photo.
8. At break and lunch times just let be free and do what kids do.
9.It's hard to keep them focused when they are at home, find a space to do their work that is separate from the rest of the house. For us, we have occupied one corner of the living room and then after each day we pack away books so that they can separate school from home.
10. Rewards. Giving them rewards at the end of each day is also great to keep focus. Something simple, like telling them they can face time someone after they've done their school work, or giving them an extra sweet treat can give them something to look forward too and an incentive to keep going.
11. We are lucky that our school has been amazing but if your child isn't being given much work then try contacting them, or search for some online tutors as there are lots of teachers out there, who are giving up their free time to support parents and kids at home.
12. Get out the books, puzzles and the board games. These are all great things to do as a family and can be educational or just simply about having some fun and getting engaged in something.
13. Outdoor learning is another great way to set the kids a task that enables you to do some work yourself. Making kites, mud kitchens, building bird nests, planting seeds and learning about nature.
14. Keep a sense of humour and learn to just let some things go. Not only is this hard for parents but it's hard for the kids too. Some of them are far too young to understand why things are a bit different and some understand it way too much and therefore have a lot more questions. Give each other some slack, don't be too rigid and most importantly - just be grateful to have each other. Remember that this will hopefully only happen once so try to embrace it.
15. Make music. You don't need instruments to make music. Get your child to create their own using objects around the house. Create their own band, make up songs and why not get them to make up a little performance too that they can perform it to you later in the evening for entertainment too.
Ooops........I forgot something. Very important one! At our school, the dinner is Fish and Chips. Fish and Chip Friday! So we are keeping this ritual going too. I have to say, I think it has been the highlight of the week.
Good Luck with the rest of your weeks and don't forget, if you have any useful ideas or have found things that have worked for you, then feel free to comment.
Stay safe and well.
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© Claire Grant Photography, (Maternity, Newborn, Baby & Child Photographer)