Struggling with home schooling during the coronavirus lockdown? You’re not the only one…
Lead image © Sandra Strachan
Week by week and day by day our home learning routines seem to slip and slide. Every family is in a different situation and thus sadly, there is no even playing field nor set of rules in which we can all follow. What I do know is how we are all walking a tightrope between keeping our jobs and keeping our kids sane.
Fortunately, home schooling can and does provide some structure to these endless days. Books are a lifeline of quietness and home schooling offer a great opportunity for reading. However busy we are, reading a chapter a day with each of the children provides the home with a moment of tranquillity.
Admittedly, I do this with a cup of tea and a nice treat to share so we both feel it is a special time to indulge in a book. With three children, that does equate to a lot of treats (which can be fruit), but it is a good way to share and enjoy some home learning.
‘Home schooling can and does provide some structure to these endless days’
Children in years 3-12 will have a text that their English lessons are based around, and if we parents read this book ourselves, we gain valuable insight into understanding the questions they need help answering.
More importantly, the books issued by the school can touch on sensitive and disturbing issues. This is no time for kids to face fictional tales of war and death suicide in their rooms alone – the news is already broadcasting similar language and it can be too much, circling around our heads all the time.
Having a person in the house to discuss the text with can also support communication on walks and over dinner. If you don’t have time in the day, take the book to bed. It is difficult to get hold of some books, but they are often available to download on Kindle. Or you could always cheat by Googling it and finding a good synopsis…
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Sunday evening is a great time to chat to the kids about their week ahead and to remind yourself of what they are learning about. There are always documentaries and films you can watch in the evening or on a rainy afternoon to help bring the subject to life.
This is a key time for you to share a love for learning, not to get all the answers right. Use the lessons set by the school as simple guidelines, not a rule book.
The older children may wake up, switch on their live classroom and shut the door. I have noticed that they can spend hours sitting in the same place when working and using the same computer to talk to their friends or play games. However busy we are with our own work, it is great to share a break every hour in a different room.
Natural routines have probably been established in your home by now. If you are all happy with them that’s great. If you don’t feel they are working or need refreshing, talk about it with the family at the weekend and see if you can all agree on a new routine on Monday.
‘This is a key time for you to share a love for learning, not to get all the answers right’
With my kids having a live Zoom classroom at 10am every morning, I wake up early to get through my own work. By 9am we have all had a healthy breakfast and we are dressed and out the house for a morning walk.
This has become the most important part of our day and wakes up our minds and body in preparation for a day that demands little physical movement. The morning routine is not for everyone, but a lunchtime walk would work just as well and break up the day.
Little people are not able to sustain the same hours learning at home as they would in school. Even one hour 1:1 is more attention they would get all week in school.
It is really hard for us ambitious and driven souls to take our foot off the pedal and operate at a slower pace, but these weeks in lockdown cannot emulate our old normal lives.
Instead, they offer us the opportunity to bring the family into a new space, one of empathy, gratitude, communication, togetherness and, hopefully moments to share the love of learning (even if it’s just a little bit).
Lady Wimbledon, aka Sandra Strachan, discusses finding that elusive work-life-family balance on The London Parentcast podcast: