First things first, “well done parents, you are doing a fantastic job!”
Now let’s get down to giving you some advice and tips from primary school teachers that may just help you educate, develop and entertain you primary school aged child at home while the schools are still closed.
NB. If you have secondary school aged children, then we haven’t forgotten about you…check out these additional tips specifically for secondary school students. Click here!
1. Take the pressure off!
First things first, teachers tell us that we need to remember that this is not ‘home schooling’ in the strictest sense. Home schooling has vast support networks, children are able to leave the house and go on visits and parent-teachers will have done extensive research and planning before deciding on home schooling. This situation is somewhat different due to the fact that we were all suddenly thrown into this and no one had time to prepare. So the first tip is…take the pressure off yourselves!
Mrs Wadsworth, teacher at Borrow Wood Primary School said, “I’ve been a teacher for over 13 years now and have taught all of the age groups from reception to Year 6. Suddenly, I had my two children at home and I thought ‘I’ve got this! How hard can it be?’. I began to plan all sorts of exciting activities – but it didn’t, hasn’t and won’t always go to plan. It’s not easy, even for us teachers, so as parents all we can do is our best!”
2. Have a plan for the day
Mrs Allen, teacher at Portland Spencer Academy, advises having a structure for the day. She says, “this doesn’t need to be really strict or tight, but children and adults like some sort of routine however loose that may be. A bit of structure will help your children to feel safe and secure. A good way to think of it is like little bursts of learning mixed with lots of independent and outdoor play.”
- Make it visible so that the children can see what their day has in store.
- Ask your children what they would like to include in their day, it may help them engage with the activities better.
- Be flexible! If an idea works, then go with it. If an idea doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to bin it and move on.
- Be prepared for it to not always go to plan! Some days the plan will just go out of the window, and that’s ok!
3. Have more than one child? Use holding activities!
The challenge is even harder if you have more than one child at home. Mrs Wadsworth recommends using ‘holding activities’.
“Teaching two children of very different ages and abilities is hard, especially if one is in reception and used to play- based informal learning. My tip would be to give one a ‘holding activity’ such as drawing, colouring or Lego while you give the other your attention and then swap.”
4. Include physical exercise and free play
Why not start the day with some exercise to get the body and the mind kick-started? The Bodycoach, aka Joe Wickes, is leading a live PE workout on his YouTube channel every weekday at 9am. It’s a 30-minute workout designed for children (and still challenging adults everywhere!) that’s a perfect way to start the day.
Young children also need breaks, so be sure to include plenty of time for independent and outdoor play. This give you a chance to grab a cuppa and enjoy a well-earned break too!
5. Get creative with your methods
Mrs Allen suggests getting creative with your learning methods. “For younger ones especially, don’t always feel that they have to write it all down on paper. Why not think about writing words in salt or flour in a tray, or getting outside and using a paintbrush and water on the fence. It’s different to something they might do at school and won’t fail to get them engaged.”
6. Use everyday things to count, problem solve and measure
We’ve got the best teaching resources anyone could wish for all around us when we’re at home. Count up the penny jar, organise the superhero figures into height order, do some baking or reorganise the pan drawer to make them all fit back in – there are plenty of things to do around the house that keep your child learning. Don’t force it though, keep working small activities in throughout the day.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Year 4 teacher, Mrs Butterworth suggests “take the advice of the teacher and use the activities they have planned for your child so that you don’t have to take on too much planning yourself. And remember, we’re still here, albeit behind a screen, so don’t ever be worried about asking for help!”
8. Communication is key!
Headteacher, Mrs Weston, says, “in the first instance it’s all about communicating with them. Our number one priority is to help them feel safe and secure in these difficult times.”
She goes on to advise “think about giving them experiences around the house, encouraging them to help with simple daily chores such as the cooking, cleaning and tidying up. When watching things, talk about what they are watching and encourage them to think about what might happen next and why. When reading stories to them, ask them questions and even encourage them to make up their own endings.”
9. There’s a place for screen time
We all need a break so don’t be afraid of letting them watch TV or spending sometime on the iPad. Everything in moderation, right?
10. Try and enjoy!
Mrs Allen says, “as parents, we will probably never be asked to do this again so try and enjoy this extra time with your children and embrace your inner-teacher. Just go with it!”
Remember, you’re trying your best!
We’ve all been thrown in to this mad situation together so all you can do is try your best. If today’s not going to plan, then enjoy the PJ day, build a den and read some books…there’s always tomorrow!
DO YOU HAVE SECONDARY SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN?
Check out these top ten tips from secondary school teachers!