It’s time for parents to dust off those lockdown manuals and set about preparing family life for that dizzying mix of work and home learning. As loving parents, it’s important to put our children’s emotional wellbeing and mental health first in challenging circumstances. We do so, by ‘putting our own masks on first’ and ensuring that we are feeling supported. Book in a phone chat with a friend who is a good listener and with whom you can offload immediate fears and worries.
Next, take a really holistic look at how family life might function over the coming week or so. Get the structure right by thinking through routines and resources. Do you have everything you need in a practical sense? Do we all know where our individual timetables are? Do we have the materials that we need for work and for learning? Do we all know when each other’s breaktimes are? Can we arrange to do something fun and physical together during interludes? By setting small, achievable goals, we feel more in control and our children will feel that they are making progress.
I know it can be tempting to give anxiety oxygen at this time, but I can assure that the optimal way through this is by remaining practical and proactive. As a family, reflect on what worked previously; habits that you formed during the last lockdown (that you can reboot) and lessons learned. Reframing this emergency situation in child-friendly ways matters. Extract any positives that you can possibly generate; one parent may not have to commute and may be available for play (for example) or “snow days may soon arrive, and we’ll all be at home to enjoy them!” At the end of each day, take turns to articulate what you are grateful for.
When it comes to home learning, plan the night before what lies ahead, ensure there are physical spaces for learning set aside, and avoid pupils in pyjamas. If you have a child who struggles to settle and get on with work, sand-timers may help, as well as little breaks complete with juice, biscuit and a run around. Pets can help children focus; ‘a cat in one’s lap’ is a proven way of reducing anxiety and improving concentration during online lessons. Grandparents can help too. Book them in for online story-time sessions, so you get a break.
Home learning is not just about sitting in front of the computer; family talk can be a powerful lever for academic attainment. Want to do some maths? Bring out the card-games. Want your child to practise their literacy skills? Focus on oral stories, listening to audio books or writing postcards to school friends. Rising Stars’ Education Anywhere initiative ensures that teachers and parents have the resources to help support children with their independent study.
Achieve’s Parent Packs are ideal for home schooling. Whether you’re looking to do activities together or to support your child working independently, these packs will help boost your child’s skills in Reading, Mathematics, and Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.
Also, Achieve SATs Success Online allows you to access fun, ready-made interactive and self-marking quizzes from home. Perfect for Key Stage 2 revision and practice, and preparing for secondary school. View samples here.
Giving our children ‘something to look forward to’ at weekends will become increasingly important. Never forget how critically important play is for children; it helps them process what is going on in the world, allows them to let off steam and can boost their emotional resilience. Don’t forget to join in!
Dr Kathy Weston recently joined us for an Instagram Live to discuss how parents can help support children’s learning during lockdown. Watch the recorded video here.
Dr Kathy Weston is one of the national experts on parental engagement. A motivational speaker and researcher, she delivers talks to parents in schools all over the UK. Read more about her work here or follow her on Facebook.
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