Parents at home with your quarantined kids… I salute you and wish you the best of luck.
I am not a parent… but I have spent the past 12 years trapped in a room with kids running around. The bonus- as a teacher- is that you can send them outside for playtime… and then you can completely send them home at the end of the day.
Quarantined parents… YOU WILL HAVE NO ESCAPE!! *cue scary music…*
There are a million different educational websites out there, promoting different curriculums/ educational philosophies… it can become extremely overwhelming for everyone… even teachers! Do not PANIC!!
I cannot explain how much time and money I have spent making resources which actually weren’t necessary. You DO NOT NEED to be printing lots of worksheets, games, colourful activities. Your child has their own interests, curiosities and imagination... let them use that. They will be significantly more engaged and enthusiastic to 'work' if they are able to learn in this way.
Look for tried and tested independent learning experiences for your kids, which require minimal resources. This will hopefully give you some time to get your own ‘work’ done from home. (NOTE: You might want to use ‘I am working’ as an excuse for other activities e.g. exercise, a bit of peace and quiet, wine consumption… absolutely no judgement here.)
Try to find teaching activities that can be adapted to be used for any age and level of ability. Pair up your siblings!!!
Your child might produce something that you weren't expecting and that is OK!!! How many times have you been asked to do the exact same task, in the exact same time frame, and get the exact same answers as 35 other people in your office? I would bet not often… so why do we expect all children to be super engaged with filling in a worksheet?
I am an inquiry based teacher and so most of my lessons come from the interests of the students... which is good as planning ahead is NOT my strong point.
Use this time for your child to explore their own interests and learning styles at home.
My following advice is also what I tell parents about homework…
1. Don’t start a fight over it.
2. Make it fun.
3. Keep it light.
4. If the kids want to do the tasks, you are onto a winner.
5. Try to keep calm...if someone gets worked up it is only going to make the whole situation even more difficult.
6. Let your kids be independent.
7. Encourage them to choose their tasks... this links to no 4.
8. Organise your day so that your child can see you working, this might encourage them to be more engaged with their task.
9. Set some boundaries.
10. Do what you can to avoid a criminal record by the end of the quarantine period.
We all need down time… especially when the whole world seems to be encountering an apocalypse, so take this opportunity for your children to become independent learners and use FUN activities to make their learning experience more positive.
Long days at home can lead to tense situations, walls covered in paint, tears, ‘I AM BOOOOOORED!!!’ declarations, sore heads from excess iPad and TV use… Fill that time differently. That does not mean making them sit at a table for 8 hours a day and pretend they are in school. In a classroom your child will not have the teacher's focus 100% of the time... so don't expect it at home.
Also... I might be breaking a teacher code OR I might be teaching very incorrectly, but I am CERTAIN most teachers will have given up on planned activities at some point because their class were not in the mood. No-one learns under pressure and stress.
1. Work with your kids to set a routine
This does not mean that is has to be 9-10 Maths, 10-11 Writing etc. Keep it flexible. If they have ownership over their routine, they are more likely to stick to it.
Maybe something like:
First: Learning experience (giving them the freedom to choose).
Second: Free play/inquiry- towards the end of this time your child needs to explain what they were learning whilst they were 'playing'. Were they building a community on Mindcraft? Were they exploring perimeter and area through their Lego building blocks? Were they creating a story with their cuddly toys?
Third: Life skills- setting the table, cooking a meal, changing bed sheets.
(Edit: When my mum read this she CACKLED and said 'WHEN DID YOU LEARN THESE?!'... Rude!)
Teaching your child skills is a lot more beneficial than filling in a printed worksheet.
You might have noticed that I didn't use times above. That is because I am rubbish at sticking to times. Your kid might choose to do their first activity and it might last 5 minutes, but it might last 45. The more engaged they are the longer it will take.
2. Build in down time
Ensure that your kid can see there is a time for them to NOT be 'working'. They know they have these chances at school, and it is SO important for children to be able to destress and rest their little brains.
3. Play to your strengths
If you are really enthusiastic about reading or writing and not so certain about maths, focus on what you are good at. If you are worried about doing activities, ask your kids how their teachers do things in school. If you have contact with the teacher, ask them. There are also SO many resources out there.
4. Don’t stress about every little aspect
Do not worry about having to teach an entire curriculum. This is a world wide problem, and there are going to be measures put in place. I can tell you that even as a teacher, there will be parts of the curriculum that might not get covered every year. It will get covered at some point...
5. Don’t expect them to be sitting and concentrated on work for 8 hours a day…
In a classroom, your kid is NOT sitting and concentrating for that amount of time, no matter HOW much you would like to think that your little angel is 100% focused 100% of the time. They aren't.
When you are working, how often do you pick up your phone for a quick Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter scroll? How often do you have a quick chat with a colleague? Brain breaks are completely and utterly necessary for EVERYONE!
6. Be a bit flexible
This is new to everyone.
Your child is in a new situation by being at home so much, not seeing their friends, their routine being disrupted, having their parent teaching them... can you IMAGINE your mum or dad teaching you? I have actual chills... and I love my parents dearly. Give them the time to adapt to this situation.
You need the time to adapt too. Getting a balance of working (whether that is your own business/ working for a company from home OR being a stay-at-home-parent) with children running around is going to take some getting used to. DO NOT BE HARD ON YOURSELF!
Be kind to the teachers. They will be doing their best to provide as much as they can to your kids. I know how heartbroken they are about their whole situation. No matter what people say... the majority of teachers aren't just in it for the money (HAH! What money?!), holidays (which are great but at least one is always spent sick due to being run down and it being so difficult to call-in-sick during term time) or being able to play all day... they love kids... because if you didn't a classroom would be LITERALLY the worst place in the world.
YOU CAN DO THIS! We are all in this together.
Check out my Instagram ‘classroom_and_cocktails’ for more ideas and examples.