Well, WOW; what a fall into 2021 we have had!
Lockdown 3.0 is creating somewhat intense levels of uncertainty for so many of us right now; we are managing home-school, creating new routines whilst also trying to work, clean, tidy, parent, cook, etc. etc. etc. A huge change for so many of us, with more and more demands felt each day.
Well, get yourself a cuppa and read through some tips around home-schooling, to try and ease the pressure.
1. Create a 'study zone' for home learning, away from play areas:
Working from home for children (and parents!) is incredibly challenging and requires an amount of focus greater than needed in school. It is ideal if a separate area for studying can be set up so that home learning is separated from play areas. This allows children to establish better routines and remain more focused. It is incredibly hard, as a working parent from home myself, to move in and out of ‘studying’ whilst in the same environment you are relaxing in. Work becomes all-consuming and there becomes less boundaries around it – we don’t necessarily take breaks as we would have outside the house and we are tempted by other activities that might need doing around the home. It is the same for our children – they need boundaries around their environment, to avoid temptation from other activities, but also to be able to understand the importance of breaks and the end to a school day.
2. Engaging children in learning:
In terms of supporting engagement – this is tricky when, we ourselves are working alongside them. Making learning as fun as possible will help – if school allows, move away from the screen, and learn in a fun way – for example move outside if its dry and complete a garden scavenger hunt – collect items from around the garden such as leaves/stones and utilise these for your maths lesson (count up, make into an array, etc). Or make a collage for art out of materials found in the home. Short breaks throughout studying time will be vital for all children and help with engagement – we shouldn’t expect them to be able to sit for prolonged periods with minimal social engagement or activity, developmentally they aren’t able to. It’s unrealistic for us to expect the school day to be re-created in a home environment so go easy on yourselves.
Less pressure = more engagement.
Remind them that you “know it must be tricky and different from the norm; you get it.” Model to them what you do to unwind in a positive way and give them permission to feel all those emotions that we also do – frustration, anxiety, overwhelm – “Of course you get angry sometimes, I do too, it’s really challenging learning new things at home without a teacher – shall we take 5 minutes away from the desk and have a cup of tea?” (For example)
3. Tips for families in smaller houses/flats:
You can only do what you can do, so find a space, even if it doubles up with another use (such as a dining table) to create a study environment. Move items if required to create a working ‘zone’ and help make this zone ‘focus – friendly’ – moving as many distractions out as you can. Consider scent such as essential oil diffusers to create a calming, focused atmosphere (citrus scents such as lemon or wild orange work well for focus). Remove, if you can, any ‘busy’ areas such as clutter or too much colour. Why not schedule your walk for at the end of the ‘school day’ so that you have a clear division between schoolwork and downtime.
4. Get Outside! Get Active!
As much as possible – it’s so important for us and our children to have breaks in the outdoors as much as we can do. This allows for much needed breathers and grounding activities, which benefits mental health and wellbeing. A really lovely activity that is available currently to take part in is the RSPB Great Bird Watch – www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved A great way to get kids outdoors, help them to learn about wildlife local to them and also supporting the RSPB as well! There are plenty of wonderful opportunities to support you and your child out there currently – check out Joe Wicks P.E and BBC Bitesize Celebrity Supply Teacher Lessons. All fun and engaging for your children and a needed break for you too!
5. Mute School Social Media!
This is very relevant currently; we hear from peers, friends and other mums about how they are managing or coping at home and we instantly begin to add guilt or pressure on to ourselves. We begin to compare and feel we are not doing enough, or not doing the ‘right thing’. Take a break from social media if you are recognising these patterns, take time off from ‘Parent WhatsApp Groups’, move away from comparison. We can only do what is best for our own family – whether it is best for your family to home-school or best for your child to be in school due to your keyworker status; either is fine; don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for the choice that is right for YOUR family.
Plenty of scheduled short breaks; every 45 minutes if possible as this will support children to focus but also release any pent-up emotion or energy. Focusing on ‘brain stem calmer’ physical activities will be beneficial for all children (Bridge the Gap have a free download of activity ideas to support this on their website). Plenty of snacks will help curb those ‘continual’ requests but also provide much needed ‘brain food’ for focus and concentration. Carrot sticks, apple slices, breadsticks, cucumber slices, small chunks of cheese and grapes are all great sources of nutrients for hungry home-schoolers.
Don’t struggle alone – you can’t do it all; move away and take some pressure off yourself as a parent; speak to school – they will understand that you can only do what you can do. If you need to reach out for support please pick up the phone and speak to someone. We are here to support you, as a parent and for your child, at Bridge the Gap – email@example.com feel free to email us in order to arrange a call of support., also spend some time browsing the website, there are so many FREE resources that we have developed for you and your child since last March.
Remind your child that they don’t need to get things ‘perfect’; all they can do is try their best and you are there to support them with that as much as you can be.
Our children need us more than ever – their world has turned upside down; they will be feeling a massive amount of uncertainty – we can’t fix that, but what we can do is focus on our relationship with them. Remind them that they matter, they are valued and that you love them.
And also remember YOU matter, YOU are valued and you are NOT alone.