Many families have lost their daily routine and while children may have at times been delighted at the thought of no lessons, that's been tempered by the fact they've lost daily contact with their friends.
It has been, of course, been difficult for working parents having to juggle keeping the wheels on their jobs while also keeping kids busy and, ideally, doing some learning as well.
But what are families finding works for them? We asked eight parents who all have children of primary school ages to share their advice on how to find a way through.
Give them scrapbooks to fill
Have some kind of schedule to structure the day (they’re used to this at school) and break sitting down activities up with free choice time, outdoor time in the garden if you have one (weather permitting) and time spent doing online workouts. Also draw up a quick chart of challenges for moments when they run out of steam and don’t know what to do with themselves. Some examples could include the following: use a magnet from the fridge to find and write a list of 20 things that are magnetic in the house; make your own snack at snack-time; create a wordsearch for your friends. We’ve also given them scrapbooks to fill however they want with artwork or independent research.
Emilie, children aged eight and five
Start early, if you can bear it
Don’t switch on gadgets unless you absolutely have to as the battles come when you try to switch it off. Get up early if you can bear it, either to work or to have some mental space before the chaos of the day kicks in. Work in set chunks, taking turns with your other half if possible, fitting in with both your work schedules, allowing them desk time for the busiest parts of their day and vice versa.
Mel, children aged 12 and nine
Join in their PE
Primary pupils are used to running around with friends in their break times at school as well as doing PE lessons. They need to be able to move and keep fit. Personal trainer Joe Wicks has got a huge following for his free PE classes for children. It gets the day off to a great start and you can either use the time to get organised yourself while children are jumping up and down, or join in. It is very enjoyable.
Steve, daughter aged ten
Don't try and be 'Supermum'
Set up regular Zoom calls for your children to have with their friends. Also consider having a different theme for each one so they have something to focus on. We are going to have a Show and Tell for one call, and for another they will be discussing what book they are reading and why the like it. Don’t try and be ‘Supermum’, but incorporate home learning with fun. We’re using the time to let them do the things they never get time to do, like building that den in the garden if they want.
Kalpana, children aged 10 and six
I sort out their work the night before so I can hand out pages when they ask whilst I am working. On work days we are starting the school day at 7.30am when they usually go to breakfast club anyway, so they can finish earlier and I can carry on working. I prioritise work that they need one-on-one help before I start work. They also do an hour every day with their Grandma on FaceTime.
Laura, children eight and five
Keep it simple
The Twinkl Home Learning Hub is quite nice as it’s very simple and has a daily timetable that can help people feel a bit less out on a limb. My daughter is five and I read on The Guardian this week that two hours of schooling a day is fine for her age group – and that includes baking and craft! I find that reassuring, as I'm also juggling a younger child too.
Alex, children aged five and three
Enlist celebrity help
It's amazing how many celebrities are offering daily help with educating our children, and it is all free. You may not want to do it every day but it does gives some variety it seems foolish to turn it down - also it's very bonding when their friends are doing it too. Favourites include Maths with Carol Vorderman (www.themathsfactor.com), and English with David Williams (www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses)
Matt, children aged eight and six
Reward good behaviour
It is very useful to have a big schedule on the wall (each one for a week). Not only for my boys, but also for me. Including tick boxes showing what they’ll be doing etc. My eldest is constantly referring to it and knows a little what to expect. We are also awarding House Points for excellent behaviour and extra kindness which is helping to encourage good behaviour.
Meike, children aged six and three
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