A headteacher has shared eight things she thinks every family should do whilst homeschooling – and they’re not what you’d necessarily expect.
Kathryn Hobbs, a headteacher discussed her thoughts with psychologist and child wellbeing specialist Alicia Eaton in a free online ‘How to Homeschool’ webinar ran by edtech platform MyTutor.
Their suggestions included letting ‘messy rooms be messy’, getting ‘movie nights’ on the timetable and introducing daily ‘walks to school’ each morning.
It comes as research shows how 59 per cent of parents agree their child’s education has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
This is made even harder when children don’t have access to a computer at home. This is why Birminghamlive has teamed up with the Birmingham branch of the Digital Education Partnership (BEP) to try to get as many old laptops as possible donated for redistribution to schools and onto children who need them as part of our Laptops4Kids campaign.
You can watch Kathryn Hobbs, from Derbyshire, and Alicia Eaton talking to Mariota Spens from MyTutor in the webinar above. Here are some of their suggestions on how to make the next few weeks of homeschooling easier to navigate.
Let messy rooms be messy
Whatever happens during this tough time, you want to come out of it with a good relationship with your child. That can be easier said than done if you feel you need to encourage them to keep up with their work, while they feel overwhelmed by the pressure. Now is a good time to take off some of the pressure.
Letting messy rooms be messy, scruffy hair be scruffy and a chaotic cooking style be, well, chaotic, can help reduce tension at home while everyone focuses on getting through lockdown.
Introduce a ‘walk to school’ in the mornings
As most of us know by now, it’s too easy to go days during lockdown without walking more than about 12 steps. For children, moving around is a crucial way to keep their mood, focus and energy levels high, so they’re ready to learn and more resilient day-to-day.
If they’re not one for a run or a home workout though, there are lots of ways to stay active without becoming an athlete. Even creating a ‘walk to school’ in the morning – in other words, a walk before the school day begins, is an excellent way to wake them up and boost their energy levels first thing.
Follow the school timetable – and add in your own fun stuff
As a parent, your role during homeschool – especially for teens – isn’t to double up as a teacher. Unless you’re a total whizz in one of your child’s subjects, the way you can really support your child’s learning is by helping them stick to the timetable their school has provided.
On top of that, you can add morning, lunchtime and after school elements to their weekly routine. This could be a daily habit like a walk before registration, a weekly slot for a movie night or time set aside for them to call their friends. It’s easy for time to all blend into one during lockdown, so splitting up the weeks and the days into lots of chunks can help boost everyone’s energy, productivity and mood.
With schools closed due to Covid-19, thousands of children in Birmingham are in need of laptops to continue their learning.
They are falling behind in their studies through no fault of their own – because they are unable to access lessons being put on by schools.
BirminghamLive is supporting efforts, through the Digital Education Partnership, to raise funds and laptop donations to support pupils and get them learning again.
You can help
Make time for a weekly family meeting
With kids learning from home and parents working from home, it’s easy for everyone to get a bit of cabin fever right now. Some kids might argue lots, while others will bottle things up. Either way, making a slot for a weekly family meeting can be a really effective way to park frustrations or particular feelings for a few days, until you all sit down and discuss it.
This is a way for families to bond as you look for solutions together – and save on the tears beforehand. It can help kids learn to control their emotions and bring calm during the week as they know they have an outlet to discuss what’s bothering them.
Label different “zones” at home
If you’ve got more than one child at home, chances are they’ll each have their own set of needs each day. A teen will need quiet time to focus on their studies, while a 9-year-old will need somewhere to work on an Art project. Grade 3 trumpet practice and A Level Physics revision – also a tricky combo. With everyone home, creating different “zones” in your house for specific types of activities can be a really effective way to let everyone concentrate on the work they need to. You can work with the space you’ve got too – even a corner of a landing could be made into a quiet study corner.
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings
As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. But knowing how to put your feelings into words is a skill you can help your child learn through practice. Encouraging your child to practice describing how they feel with you will help them avoid outbursts or building up anxiety.
If you can work out some temporary solutions to make them feel better, great. But simply reminding them that it’s completely normal to feel a bit down or worried at the moment can also be soothing.
Remind your child to talk, as well as listen, to their teachers
Even though schools are closed, your kids’ teachers are still absolutely there to offer answers, support and resources to keep their learning on track. Especially if your child is in their GCSE or A Level year, if they’re in doubt or worried about anything to do with their learning, they should tell their teacher.
Whatever system they’ve been given to communicate – email, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom – sending them a polite message that clearly sums up what they’re unsure or worried about will give their teacher the info they need to help them out.
Keep powering through
We know it’s not easy learning from home, but unlike when schools closed last year, it’s really important that teens keep making their way through their courses. If they’re in a GCSE or A Level year, each piece of work that they submit to their teacher will help inform their final grade.
That’s not to say that if they make a mistake in their homework they’ll be doomed, but rather that your teen has lots of opportunities this term in particular to prove themselves. The key is to listen to what their teachers are asking of them now and sticking with their studies until they’re done.