I am overwhelmed by the number of online learning platforms, educational resources and suggestions of things I could be doing with my children. The kindness of others sharing ideas is a wonderful example of community support. Honestly, for me as both a teacher and a parent, I find it really daunting. Am I doing enough? Am I getting it right?
Last week, my 8 year old broke down in tears. She is missing school, missing her friends and she desperately wants to see her teacher again. She misses her normality. All of the teachers and parents I have spoken to share the same aims: for the children to be happy, safe and loved. My partner is working long hours in a key industry, and like any family where members are still having to go out to work, this brings additional worry.
Every family is unique. Every household is finding their own way through this.
Things I have realised:
- What works one week, doesn't work the next. My kids like structure to the day but they also like variety in activities. Online learning websites are amazing but once the novelty has worn off, my kids lose interest. If they're not interested, they don't want to do it, they won't learn and they become unhappy.
- Some days they want and need to do their own thing. If this means a full day of TV, xbox, iPad etc then so be it. They don't do it everyday. It makes them happy. They are still loved and cared for. And it allows me time to work.
- On most days, a loose structure to the day helps them and me. I emphasise 'loose.' It is not a timetable. Our day is structured around food (which helpfully stops me raiding the fridge every 20 minutes). So it might look something like:
Breakfast & get ready for the day
Do an activity together
Do an activity together
Do something together in the afternoon
Whatever we would normally do in the evenings (play/relax/bath/bedtime routine).
- I try to build learning into the activities we do together. There are no time limits (i.e. I don't expect an hour of English - this is home, not school).
- Any learning we do together is revisiting or consolidating things they have already been taught. I am not teaching any new curriculum content. Now is not the time for that for my children - I know from helping with homework that it never goes down well - I'm their mam, not their school teacher. And revisiting previous learning builds their confidence and is enjoyable - which means they are happy.
- Learning is done in a relaxed, playful way. We find the maths in everyday situations (I've mentioned in other posts). We do English by reading books they enjoy and writing about their interests, e.g. making a football fact book. We do other activities based on what they are interested in e.g. making LOL dolls' house from junk modelling, painting a race track for cars, potion making, sewing to make clothes for action figures, guitar practice etc.