This week, parents across the world will be waking up faced with the prospect of home education for the very first time. We’re ahead of the curve as we have been self isolating here for nearly a week now, so I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me in these last few days.
How to Cope Self Educating your Children
This seems so daunting the first time you start to think about it. I’ve never taught anything, I have no education in teaching, I didn’t even really know where to start. I started by asking their teacher what they are currently working on and that gave me a guide. I then looked for free resources, there are loads out there, but Twinkl in particular has been superb. But so many places have released free resources, a lot of schools have released home learning packs too. The big thing is I have found is that you really do need a printer at home at the moment to print everything off.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You cannot replicate what they are doing in school, but it doesn’t mean you can’t teach them something. You don’t have to stick to a rigid timetable and screen time when you need it is totally ok. I have also been trying to focus on enjoying the extra I am getting with my children. I usually love the summer holidays, and although that is about seeing friends and the adventures we have, I am trying to refocus my mind to the adventures and things we can do together at home instead.
Plan Ahead and Follow Your Children’s Lead
I have a little notebook and I am jotting down different ideas to keep me going and as they occur to me. Then each night for the next day I work out what we’re going to do the next day. I write out a rough plan and print off anything we will need ready. I didn’t do this at first, but then it just led to me feeling stressed and flapping when they asked what we should do next.
I actually find that the children’s natural curiosity is sparking off ideas of where we could go next. For example, last week we have learnt about the seasons and day and night. This has sparked lots of questions about the moon, so it has led me to plan lessons about the moon and phases of the moon for this week.
Start Collecting Junk
The empty cereal packets, egg cartons and dare I say it toilet rolls, keep them in a bag or box somewhere and then each week use them to create something. For example last week as it was the first day of spring, the children made a spring garden out of items we were just going to chuck in the recycling. What I have enjoyed about this time away from formal education is the extra time it is giving for me children to be creative and they have thrived on it too.
How to Manage your own Workload
This so far has been the hardest one for me. The children need my attention, they ask questions and even when you set them a task and think they will be at it for a good 40 minutes to an hour, as soon as you start something another question arises.
It has totally been a learning process on this one. Set aside time that is just for them. Doing activities with them and teaching them. But also plan activities that they can do on their own, sit down with your laptop and work while they do this. Last week things that helped me get some work done were – putting children’s yoga on the TV usually about half an hour. Putting on a documentary related to the subject you are teaching. Don’t be afraid of tech time, there are some great educational apps. Play time in the garden if it’s dry, sit where you can keep an eye on them.
All of these helped me balance work and teaching last week. I will be honest and say though that I did have to work most evenings too, but it was doable.
Stay Connected to People
It can be lonely. You’re worried about your extended family members and friends. The children miss their friends and don’t really understand why they can’t see them. Use the phone, use FaceTime, What’s App, Skype. Whatever works for you and touch base with people regularly. It will make you feel more grounded and connected. Let the children call and chat to their friends as well.
Be Aware of Heightened Emotions
People are scared, they’re anxious. We have never known a time like this in our lives. Our children really don’t comprehend it at all. I have had random tears from them this week about very odd things, then I have realised they are not crying about that thing at all, but what is going on in the world around them. Something even adults can’t truly fathom. Be kind, be patient. hugs on the sofa, crazy bubble baths and having lots of fun is just, if not more important than the learning to help everyone cope and come to terms with what is happening.
Acknowledge that Members of your Family May Need Space
If you’re all stuck at home, your home can feel a very small space. Acknowledge that people probably will need space, maybe they disappear for a bath for a little while, maybe your children will just go to quietly read or play on their rooms on their own. Maybe you and your partner need to watch TV in separate rooms one night. That’s ok, don’t be afraid to ask for it either.
Get some Exercise
You might be stuck indoors, but there is still ways about this. I have written a whole separate blog post about exercising during isolation. It’s not the same as the gym, or the pool or your bicycle. But it will still do the job.
If you can get Outdoors
The garden has been our absolute saviour this last week, and I appreciate not everyone is lucky enough to have one. But if you have some sort of open space, even if it’s just a balcony, use it. When things have got tense indoors, and they will, putting the children out for a play on the trampoline has really helped things. If you’re not in isolation, just social distancing – until we go into lockdown at least, you can go for walks as long as you keep your distance.
Get Up, Get Dressed, Put Make Up On
By all means have a PJ day or two or three. But as I work from home all the time, I have found that setting an alarm, getting up, dressed, doing your hair and make up. Hell, even putting on a nice dress really impacts your overall mood. Self care comes in many shapes and forms and this is one that works for me. Making sure I look nice and presentable makes me feel better about myself and puts me in a better mood.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get the Children Involved in Chores
I am very lucky in that I usually have a cleaner. But of course with social distancing our cleaner can no longer come. This is another job on my list that needs doing as well as now being my children’s teacher. Last week, I decided this wasn’t just a task for me, it was a task for everyone. Aria dusted, Logan vacuumed, they both got involved with mopping (we have a spray mop so that was easy enough for them) and I did the big yucky jobs like bathrooms, kitchens. The children actually really got into it (I don’t know if they will next week, we” see!) and it didn’t take long for us all to do.
With us all home, the house can get pretty messy fast. I have implemented a rule where we have to clean up after each activity in order to keep some semblance of order. Bedrooms have to be tidied each day and clothes in the wash each day.
It’s Not Going to be Perfect
It’s not going to be perfect. You’re going to get upset, you’re going to annoy one another. You’re going to desperately crave the normal things you want to do. But it will be ok, you can do it. We must do it to save thousands of lives. If you’re struggling reach out to other people, to friends. Technology is now your best friend. Focus on the small things, the joyful moments that you can find in everyday. Take a moment to pause from the busyness of life and try a hobby at the weekends that you have wanted to do for ages. But most of all, keep well.