One of the earliest memories I have was the wedding of Charles and Diana. I remember the street parties, the memorabilia, the crowds in London, the dress, and above it all, the feeling. And I hadn’t even reached my fifth birthday.
We can all often recall where we were, what we were doing when major global events happened. We remember the feelings, the waves of emotions that hit us. Still now, people recall the euphoria of England’s 1966 World Cup victory, the pride at Torvill & Dean winning gold with Bolero, how we came together for Live Aid, or the shock and fear of 9/11 and the collapse of the twin towers.
For the majority of us, we haven’t experienced life during a World War or the euphoria when it came to an end and evil was defeated. Now, we are facing another major global event, but this one is different.
From Monday 23rd March schools will close until further notice. Realistically, putting my teacher hat on, my gut feeling is that the earliest re-opening would be September. The consequence of this is huge for our children. Not only in terms of thousands missing their GCSEs or those Year 6 children not having the rites of passage of an end of school production and getting their shirts signed as they leave primary and move on to secondary school, but crucially, their day to day schedule will be disrupted.
Children need structure and stability.
We all do.
Children will be affected by this virus on an emotional level for longer than any adult. Their memories will shape their lives. Did they witness us being calm in the face of adversity? DId they witness us being charitable to fellow neighbours and strangers alike?
So, to help parents and carers out there now faced with becoming their child’s tutor here are a few tips to help them, which will also help you.
- Get them to create their own timetables. Let them choose when they practice their spellings, do their number work and schedule in play times, art and design. Make afternoon sessions a “Crafternoon”
- Keep them active every day. They’re going to be desperate to run and dive and play and shout like they can in a playground or park. The celeb PT Joe Wicks is offering children PE lessons online. Yoga poses are a brilliant one to get them doing because of their calming effect. Do whole family yoga sessions (isolation rules can still be applied – use of video calling means even if you or a loved one is in isolation inside your home, you can still live and play together).
- If you have the space and resources available in part of the house or within their rooms help them create a reading corner – all classrooms have them, often filled with books and cushions, and for younger children teddies as reading buddies.
- Be their ‘classmate’ – sit and do the same work (if possible) with them. Or, let them work alongside you if you are working from home. Set playtime and tea breaks, lunch breaks and ‘home time tidy up routines’ together.
- With all these spare cardboard cylinders we will all have from loo rolls, encourage them to make their own stationery holders.
- Use online video tutorials if your child plays a musical instrument so they don’t end up losing key skills they have already built up.
- Do virtual class assemblies with their friends – using video messaging by creating groups with other parents you can all dial into. Sing together, award certificates which can be created in publisher or paint and emailed out to friends.
- If you have a printer, print mindfulness colouring pages.
- If you have subscriptions to things like Audible, let your child/children download their favourite audio books.
- Get them to play ‘Be the Teacher’ – get them to set sums and spellings for you which they get to mark.
- Children love stickers and they love charts too. Make family charts for chores and learning and fun time.
Think Outside the Classroom
- If you have a garden, get the children out for playtime, get them planting seeds. Many children at this time of year would be learning about the life cycles of butterflies and frogs and flowers, so they can make Daisy Diaries or get them dissecting dandelions.
- Planting seeds and growing plants, cress, sunflowers, or whichever flower or vegetable they choose.
- Get them to make educational videos they can share online or vlog about their favourite books, films, games, flowers, plants, outdoor-toys etc.
- Baking (that’s if we can all get hold of some ingredients) is always a great one – teach them how to make healthy starters, lunches and desserts. They could do cooking videos akin to Masterchef competitions at home.
- Teach your child, if they don’t already know, how to tie their shoe laces! Honestly, this often drives teachers crazy especially when children don’t know how to tie their own laces but fall over them all the time.
- If you have a garden, set up little assault courses, jumping over broomsticks on boxes, climbing under old sheets army-style, etc. Get creative with exercise equipment you have lying around the house – get the whole family using it whilst we have access to the outdoors. If this changes, do what you can inside.
- Set timed exercise challenges, video them and send them to their friends, sort of a mini garden Olympics!
Reading with your child is the most effective way to keep them learning and making progress. When we make it back into the classrooms, you’ll be happy that you put the time into reading with your child, and they’ll appreciate it, too. Maybe not immediately, but they will build many happy memories around reading with those nearest and dearest to them as I have, as many of us may well have.
If things get a bit fraught, as I can well imagine they will do – just as teachers have to discipline children every single day and remind them of their boundaries and our expectations, never, ever punish them by sending them to their bedroom and ordering them to read, or leaving them with only a book. That is one sure fire way to turn your child off to reading. And, after shelter, love and safety, reading is the greatest gift any parent can ever give their child.
I hope this little overview of a few ideas can help you and your child/children through what could be a challenging time as you step-in either wholly or partially as their tutors.
And remember, we teachers love our cups of tea. So regular tea breaks are a must!