Whilst vulnerable children and the children of key workers are still attending our schools, the majority of pupils are following Government instructions and staying at home, often with parents who are still working, albeit from their residences.
Every family is different, and here at Vine Schools Trust we are very aware that each family, each parent or carer, and each child will be affected by lockdown differently. For some, structure will be key, although no-one is suggesting six straight hours of learning at the kitchen table! For others, just getting through each hour and each day without excessive tension or anxiety will be a sufficient goal.
It’s clear from the media that in addition to the strain teaching and support staff are presently under, there is added pressure for parents and carers to ensure that children are not only kept safe and educated but kept entertained as well.
With download and streaming speeds potentially slower as a result of more online activity, parents and carers working at home clambering to remain connected to the work server while the children attempt a full day of lessons could prove impossible. Help is at hand though, and some of the ideas on social media are quite simple, and in unprecedented times like these, perhaps simple is the best route.
- Keep teaching slots short. It’s better to keep children engaged for a few hours than spend a whole day on things they are not enjoying and not retaining. Use the three-day weekend plan perhaps? Schedule Monday to Thursday, maybe 2-4 hours a day maximum to ensure the true impact of participated focused learning.
- Mix it up at bit, use cookery when doing Maths with weights & measures. Utilise English by reading the recipe or writing a shopping list. Get them sorting through the cupboards, stacking items in date order. Think outside the box and keep them concentrating.
- Offline is just as fabulous and getting hands on is so rewarding, from paints and crafts or simply reading a book, playing noughts and crosses or doing a puzzle. Adding an educational twist to family time with a board game is great fun. Rummikub is very popular for the logicians and don’t forget the old favourites like Scrabble and Monopoly as well.
- The TV is your friend – If you haven’t yet found the likes of Horrible Histories for your KS2 children, now is the time, just two or three episodes at a time are very insightful. Use the TV for down time too because everyone needs a break occasionally.
- IT lessons can include your child showing you how to use the iPad to its full capacity. Maybe get them to chat with grandparents or other family members for a while, once a day? Allow use of the Xbox or PS4, but maybe encourage them to expand their range of games by including some more educational games. Get them to talk to you about online safety, ask them to research stuff online, perhaps as part of an ongoing project.
- Even if it’s bug-hunting on the doorstep, or leaf collecting in the car park, get them outside. Like plants, children need fresh air. Allow them to get the sun on their faces and if possible, get them running about a little too.
- Keep them moving, because physical exercise is still a very important part of a child’s development. Even in the smallest spaces, getting the heart rate up a little, once or twice a day can ensure continued wellbeing both mentally and physically.
- The pandemic has taken us out of our comfort zones, and the same can be said of our children. Allow them to learn a new skill that they simply wouldn’t have done at school traditionally, from pruning bushes, planting seeds and setting the BBQ for a well wrapped up grill, to using the washing machine and folding laundry. Allow them to feel useful in the home in this strange time.
- Friend time is something most children are desperately lacking right now and it’s a struggle all of its own. Some are blessed with siblings, hopefully that they interact well with, but some only-children could battle loneliness during this period. A quick call, facetime or a chat over the fence at a safe distance can make a real difference.
But, when all is said and done, and no matter the outcome, you can honestly say that you will never again have this time with your children at home.
Enjoy the spring as it emerges and embrace the Easter festival, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. Most importantly, please stay safe everyone.
‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit’
© The Diocese of Chelmsford Vine Schools Trust 2020 a company limited by guarantee and registered in England. No 8709542.
Registered address: The Diocese of Chelmsford Vine Schools Trust, Diocesan Offices, 53, New Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1AT.