After four days of having your children learning at home, I thought it may be a good time for encouragement. The more independence you can give your children when they work/learn the better and also when they play. Set them small goals and then leave them to get on with it, try to just monitor from a distance. There are lots of threads online, our Churchend Facebook is very busy with ideas and the teaching staff have uploaded work to Purple Mash and My Maths/ TT Rockstars for the children to tackle. However, we wanted to just give our school’s perspective on it all and answer some FAQs.
A few points to note first:
1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Let's keep a perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you have considered it, you plan for it and you are your child's school teacher in whatever form you choose. What we’re all facing at the moment is at best distance learning.
2) You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator and you know your child better than anyone. Try to keep to a routine for the formal element of learning. Your child/children are used to starting at 9 am. Rather get the online maths/ written work/ reading done earliest. 2 hours should be the maximum. Try half hour sections with little breaks, although younger children may do less.
If your child isn't engaging with anything, take time to spend playing in the garden, or baking, or doing something other than the work provided until they are ready. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about if that works best for your child and your family dynamic.
3) Make learning fun if you can. Much learning can be done through play. Much play like lego is learning. The absolute necessity is reading to your children. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reading to your children whatever their age. Do a daily read to the family and also remember the wonderful resources authors have put online or resources uploaded to the school Facebook page. After reading to your children the next goal is to encourage them to read for enjoyment. Find something they will enjoy reading. Teachers in EYFS and KS1 have given ideas to engage the younger children in their phonics learning. If you have any problems, use the year group email contacts. Responses will be sent between 10am and 12pm.
So, a few FAQs:
- School has sent home lots of work and all sorts of suggested activities. How are we supposed to get through it all?!
You're not, don't try. The class teachers have spent time planning and gathering things to send home/ upload and wanted to ensure there was a range of activities for the children to access. It's not a competition, or a race and teachers will not be able to see much of the practical learning your children are taking part in.
- X in my child's class has everything done and we've barely started. Will they fall behind?
Even if everything were equal in terms of support and time and number of children etc (which it’s not) children learn at different rates. In the class there's a wide range of levels in all subjects and there are children needing to access work that’s been differentiated to challenge at an appropriate level. This is harder to manage with remote or distance learning where one body of work is sent for all children. Be realistic and maintain a positive frame of mind and encourage or praise effort.
- I'm not doing any work with my children at the moment. All they’re doing is Lego, cooking and playing outside.
All of this is learning. Very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.
- How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different children of different ages?
You can't, stop trying. If they're old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking, drawing, arts and crafts etc.
-So what’s the bare minimum?
There is no bare minimum. It depends on your family circumstances and the needs of every individual child. Look at what has been set by the teacher. It should cover the learning needed up until the Easter holidays. We will review engagement, volume and quality of work at the end of the two weeks to see how much we have to modify for the new term.
Our ideal for the children in our school is explained in the letters we sent out via a link last week.
- A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)
- Some free writing (some is set on Purple Mash). If they'll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic etc?
- My Maths and Times Table Rock Stars and some practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games.
- Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.
- Physical exercise everyday
- Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn't need to be guided.
- If the children are old enough, getting them to work independently on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or the family.
- If they’re younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better. Remember it is okay for your child to be bored, this often leads to creativity and independence. You do not have fill every moment of the day for them.
Please accept that you are doing enough. You are loving your children and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for everyone’s mental health and well-being.
Stay safe and keep well. We’re here at the end of an email if you need us.