Updated: Jun 27
With only a few year groups attending school last month and key worker's children being at school since the lockdown has started, the majority of children have been having to do their learning at home.
For children, staying at home adds its own anxieties as they lack the interaction from friends and teachers. For those children who are most at risk of infection and are shielding, the lockdown may be in place for some time longer than for those who are not vulnerable. Stimulation of senses and different environments has, therefore, become hard to come by in lockdown times.
Various articles state that only a third of children who are being home-schooled during lockdown are getting any education at all. Parents working from home aren't trained teachers and have their own work to do. Children lose focus when not in a classroom environment, with so many distractions at home like TV, computer games, toys or the garden.
This is hopefully a once in a lifetime situation where children are without the education they need. We must try and make it memorable for all the right reasons rather than a struggle.
There are many ways children can learn through play and non-class based education, such as:
Reading. Children can practice their vocabulary, spelling and general reading skills while being indulged in a world of fact or fiction
Drawing and art. Being creative develops the left-hand side of the brain. Arts and crafts can improve control, teach patience and increase creative flair. Creativity is one of the most beneficial characteristics when employers look at CVs along with academic achievements and experience.
Educational TV programmes such as the Discovery channel can be calming and also very interesting.
But it’s not just the school years children that are having to adapt to a non-school based lifestyle. Preschoolers and early years children are missing out on the stimulation and everyday learning through play that they had prior to lockdown. Playing in groups and with other similar aged children exercises and developes vocabulary, encourages negotiation and communication skills. Since nurseries have also been closed, this peer-based interaction has been lost.
Tips to attempt home schooling during lockdown.
Choose where your learning takes place and keep it consistent, making sure it’s not in their bedroom. The association of a familiar place within the home can help to create a routine and maintain focus. The bedroom is for relaxation and a calm space for stress-free time before bed.
Not all parents are teachers. As parents were once young too, we grew up learning about things that may not be considered on the curriculum. So why not give the kids something that you, the parent are interested in or were interested in. For example, get them to read a book that you know well so you can ask them questions about it or write a report on it or it may be as practical as creating a calendar for gardening, learning when to plant and feed things in the garden.
Stay positive and keep calm. Showing frustration will reflect on your children and they will lose their focus. Positivity is one of the things we most remember about our teachers from school, it’s infectious and a great basis for learning.
Start the lessons early. The morning is the best time of day for most brains to entertain learning. As adults, we find this somewhat strange, but as soon as the caffeine kicks in, we can all say that we’re ready to face the day with a clear head. As the day draws on, especially after lunch we can all get a little lethargic and can slow down. This would be the time to do more sports activities, general play or arts and crafts.
Read, read, read. Encourage youngsters to read as much as possible with perhaps a sticker based chart for their completed books, remember it’s not a competition, but who doesn’t love a sticker?
Let technology give you a helping hand. Technology isn’t going away and is getting more advanced all the time. As a parent and working from home, you’re tired, overworked and keeping one eye on your work and the other on the kids. Technology and apps can help you out with some focus based games, reading, music and projects; all with learning in mind. This then allows you a break from co-teaching and back to your day job. Your zoom calls then are free from interruptions. Some parents are averse to letting children’s screen time be so high, but in this unusual period, it may just have to be embraced to restore a functional learning and work balance through the home.
Here are a few apps and channels that early years kids can tune into:
CBeebies For numbers and mathematics, there’s Numberblocks; counting and number recognition has never been so fun. Get to know their colours with Bing & friends, learn new songs and sing along with Mr Tumble and a spot of Geography with Andy’s Adventures.
If you’re getting arty then the wonderful world of Pinterest will show you just what’s possible with a toilet roll, yoghurt pot and some pipe cleaners. Be mindful that this is like opening a can of worms, with so much creativity to choose from.
For slightly older children, Keystage 1 (5-7 years), the learning gets even more fun. These apps and channels are a helpful resource that will keep the learning rolling.
Squeebles Maths Race, if you’re children are in any way competitive then this game can be quite addictive.
For English lessons or should we say, reading and writing, there’s Spelling Shed. Chosen by many schools, it’s easy to read dyslexic font makes learning to spell clear and fun.
Going international? If you as a parent have used this lockdown to learn a new language then this can also be an option for the kids too. Children can pick up languages quicker than adults and coupled with learning about a new country, heritage and culture, this can be a captivating lesson. Duolingo helps youngsters get to grips with a new language at their own pace, a definite must if adults want to learn at the same time, a great bonding experience.
If you as a parent are looking for a break and need a solution to lockdown learning that will capture your child's attention, we can strongly suggest PODS. A creative education space to focus learning for a prolonged period, allowing you to resume your workload. A pop up mini personal space that creates a relaxed environment for reading and creative learning.
PODS comes with one removable theme of choice allowing other themes to be purchased and changed. The themes consist of interior and exterior graphics which create a magical environment bathed with sensory back lighting. A matching set of audiobooks, ebooks and sound effects complete the engaging learning experience and set the scene for immersive play and all of its benefits.
The story eBooks follow Professor PODS through adventures, with illustrated pages and a dyslexic friendly font, making each page fun and easy to follow. Inside the learning POD, which kids can call their very own homework space, they can engage in a relaxed atmosphere for reading. Children can now have their very own reading corner with sights and sounds to invigorate the senses.
However you’re teaching or homeschooling this lockdown, know that it is only temporary and good vibes account for a lot.
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