Headteacher reveals six things every homeschooling parent should know

Principal of Havelock Academy in Grimsby, Emma Marshall is supporting pupils with “cheer-up” videos, weekly welfare calls and a structured timetable of lessons.

A mum-of-two as well as a principal, Emma Marshall knows what parents are going through as their children embark on remote learning.

“I understand why parents are concerned,” she says. “I’m a parent myself. My kids are 12 and 17. My son is in the middle of his A-levels and is hopefully due to be off to university in September. Thankfully he’d already really worked for his mocks. But now he’s a bit like, ‘Well, I’m not doing my exams’, so I have to remind him to keep working.”

Talk to your children

“Ask them how they’re doing and get them to tell you five things they’ve learnt that day. Reward them – even if it’s just a ‘Well done’. Praise goes a long way.”

Ask the school

“Make sure you – or the child – know they can get in touch with school with any problems at all. They shouldn’t feel they’re stuck at home by themselves.”

Create a safe space just for them

“Not everyone has a nice dining-room table where they can set their computer up, but find them a nice quiet place to learn.”

Set your expectations

“Don’t try to do everything at once or complete all the tasks that the school is setting. Nobody is going to tell you you’re doing a terrible job. Teachers hugely appreciate the support from parents and we’re here to help you.”

Take a screen break

“Encourage daily exercise and time away from the screen. Getting out for a walk is very important. Or reading a physical book!”

Get showered and ready for the day

“A daily routine is good. I would advise parents to make sure their kids get up, get showered and dressed, not spend the day in their pyjamas. So that way when you sit down to work or log into a live lesson it’s like you’re approaching a proper school day. I think putting school uniforms on might be a step too far, though.”

Emma lists resilience as one of the key things young people need as they navigate this tricky time – and her school provides structure as well as practical help in terms of technology.

“We’re making sure we build their resilience, so some of the skills we’re now looking at honing could be important life skills in a way that perhaps the more traditional curriculum doesn’t address,” she says. “Resilience is really important. We launched our ‘Havelock Hive’ which is built on a beehive idea, with everybody working together. It supports team spirit – it’s something we dreamt up in lockdown one and now it’s become a big part of our curriculum.

Resilience is one of the key things young people need
Resilience is one of the key things young people need

“All of us are learning something new at the moment. For me it’s technology – I mean, wow! I couldn’t do what I’m doing now without it. That’s the same for all of us. I think if we’d have told the kids in lockdown one that they’d be doing their lessons all day on their PlayStation they would have laughed at us! But they’re doing it and it’s amazing.”

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