All schools have now closed to the vast majority of pupils, due to COVID-19. For many of us, this means donning our teacher hats and home educating our children for the foreseeable future.
At Laughology, we know that many of you feel anxious about this. So, with the help of our Education Consultant and former Head Teacher, Sarah Creegan, we’ve come up with some top tips to help the whole family focus during this new way of working. And don’t worry, no mortar boards or capes are required…
Be realistic about what you can achieve
Focus on what you can achieve, not what you can’t.
- If you are trying to take a conference call from the dining room table, home educate your children AND keep all of the usual plates spinning, it’s important to be realistic. Now is the time to set small, achievable, daily targets for everyone. Your children may well be able to set their own targets and will be more motivated to achieve them if they do.
- We know that our brains give us a high five and we get a boost of dopamine when we achieve our goals. If, for example, you finally manage to order a pack of loo roll online, celebrate as a family – perhaps with a Minions-style song and dance around the kitchen?
- And, if you don’t manage to get everything done, put things into perspective – let’s face it, there are quite a few other things going on in the world at the moment. So, little Jimmy didn’t practise his number bonds today – hey ho, we can try again tomorrow!
Decide what’s important for you and your child
Remember, it’s not school – although it is, for the time being.
- Schools will be sending activities home and it’s important that you work in virtual partnership with the class teacher, to ensure your child continues to make progress with their basic maths and English skills. To do this, they are likely to need at least 15 minutes of your time to explain new concepts and what the task involves. Hopefully then, most of the time, they’ll be able to crack on without you.
- After that, you have an opportunity to devise your own curriculum around the things that you hold dear. Remember, the most important thing is that people maintain good physical and mental health throughout this period of time. If you feel calmer by spending the afternoon working, while the children have a giggle in the garden, then everyone’s a winner.
Get structure and routines in place
Usually, time spent at home is the time for children to kick loose, be a bit (or a lot) cheekier than they would be at school, argue with their sibling and so on. At the moment though, you’re probably going to want to see more of the calm, caring, quiet kid that the school staff talk about during parent-teacher consultations.
- Children like structure and routine. Negotiating these with your child will help them (and you) to be motivated to follow them. In schools, teachers use visual timetables so that children know the order of the day. If you search ‘visual timetables’ you will find plenty of resources.
- A pyjama day might be lovely at the weekend, but we are far more likely to be in the right frame of mind to learn and work if we’ve followed our weekday routine and put some clothes on!
- It helps to build in regular exercise opportunities. Joe Wicks @thebodycoach is delivering a 30-minute PE session every morning at 9am on his YouTube channel. For everyone’s physical and mental health it would be great if adults and children do this together. But it is an opportunity to put the children in front of some meaningful TV for half an hour, if you need to crack on with emails.
- With your child, decide what the 8.45am – 3.15pm rules are. Remember, children respond to praise and encouragement far more than being told off. Catch them following the rules and making a great effort and then shower them with rewards. Rewards don’t need to be expensive or sugary – a smile, a few words of recognition or a thumbs-up work brilliantly.
- And, at the end of ‘the school day’, be prepared to relax the rules a bit. As they are confined to the house for a while, kids are still going to need to let loose, be cheeky and get into heated ‘discussions’ with their siblings from time to time!