Tips for home-schooling children during ANOTHER lockdown...
This time last year, how many of us would imagined that we'd have been plunged into our THIRD national lockdown in 12 months? Terms like 'social distancing', 'social bubbles' and 'hands-face-space' weren't on anybody's rader, let alone coronavirus or COVID-19.
We are in what is a strange and unsettling time for everone, including our children, and throughout 2020 and now into 2021 the terms 'home education' and 'home-schooling' are commonplace. Ask people just a couple of years ago, and these terms would've conjured up mental images of children living isolated lives and doing schoolwork at their desk, in their bedroom, probably looking miserable.
As we all struggle to give our families some sense of normality in the face of yet another lockdown, it certainly seems that us parents have got the sharp end of this sick; not only are we trying to keep our families safe, but we have the added puzzle of educating children that have been pulled from their schools and routines, away from their friends and normal environments.
"What gives Boomerang the right to tell me how to home-school my child?" we hear you ask... well luckily for you, we have a qualified primary school teacher as part of our team! So here are a few (we think) useful tips for keeping your kiddies' education ticking during "Lockdown 3.0"...
1 - Home learning can look very different to school
A day exploring the garden, playing with Lego, Facetiming relatives, caring for pets, creating art or baking cakes - all of this is not only fun, but educational and excellent for the mental health of your kids. Even housework can be made entertaining, and builds those real-life kills and some confidence. Let's be fair, children have plenty of time to muck in around the home at the moment!
2 - Boredom is understandable, and fine
Loads of us are spinning plates once again this lockdown, balancing working from home with educating and entertaining our little people. Don't feel guilty about asking your children (if you can) to entertain themselves whilst you work. Maybe set up some self-explanatory activities before you log in, or letting older children know how long you will be on certain calls/meetings for and when to expect your attention again.
It may be helpful to make plans with the children - letting them know that you can do an activity together when you finish for example. This will give them something to look forward to, and an incentive to let you get on with what needs to be done.
3 - Screens are your friend!
Here's a fact for you: when books were first printed for the general public, people thought they came with a disease known as 'reading mania' which made people obsessed with reading books! It was thought that relying on reading would make people's memories stop working, and would bring on unsavoury behaviours such as promiscuity and suicidal thugs!
Now, letting the kids play more iPad games or sit in front of Disney+ for longer than you'd usually permit while we're locked down is not going to do any harm. It's not going to turn them into zombies. There are things you can do to be sensible, such as putting on a blue light filter to avoid sleep disruption. However idyllic it seems, exploring the countryside and baking cakes isn't going to be possible all day every day. So don't be afraid of a bit of extra screen time to help you through. We're all doing it.
4 - Ignore the social media masquerade
We've all seen the photos of smiling kids next to a tray of perfectly golden-brown cookies, or diligently working away with worksheets sent home from school...but how long after (or indeed before) these photos were taken was the house full of spillages, accidents, burnt breakfast and ears or tantrums?
The fact is, that a photo is a snapshot that someone wants you to see, otherwise they wouldn't upload it. Just this morning I took a lovely photo of my two-year-old doing some finger painting, two minutes later she was in tears because she'd spilt the water all over the kitchen floor and her socks were wet.
So ignore what looks like everyone else's perfect life, and concentrate on you and your kids. You've got this, tantrums and all!
5 - You're the best person for the job
Who was it that taught your children to talk, walk, respond to other humans and more? You, of course! You're the perfect person to help them understand and get through this time. You know them better than anyone else, and if they aren't responding to what you're trying then change it - what works for you and your family is what's important here. Don't forget that.
He's the expert
6 - Make room for fun
Professor Tony Gallagher of Queen's University Belfast, one of the world's leading academic experts on the role of education in society says that while the 'School of Mum and Dad' cannot replace formal education, it's important to strike a balance between structure and fun.
“There is a balance to be struck,” he says. “It’s important to develop some sort of routine, so there is a bit of order and predictability to the day. However, it shouldn’t be overly prescriptive. It should be reasonably relaxed; it should be fun,” he adds. “You can’t work on a school-like timetable and you can’t just leave them to their own devices. A really important thing is to keep spirits up and to deal with the challenge of boredom, especially small kids who can get quite irritated in situations like this.”
We hope that these few tips can help you get through another lockdown. In the meantime, whilst we can't be together, stay safe and have fun. After all, spending time with our kids is precious; they're only this young once.