How to Support, Occupy and Teach your Children during School Closures…
We’ve found ourselves in the middle of a really uncertain time. I know for a lot of parents waking up this morning that the reality of this situation may just be sinking in – how do we occupy and teach our children whilst they are unable to attend school?
It’s so important to make your family’s mental well-being your top priority. As a teacher myself, I’ve put together some tips for home-teaching and coping during this unsettling time, in the hope that it will make everything feel a little more manageable…
Have a loose routine
I’m not ashamed to admit that I need some sort of routine amongst all of this chaos, and the kids are no different. This is a very unsettling time for them, so having some structure will be important to help their anxiety too.
Try to establish a simple timetable, or some basic routines, to give each day a purpose. Just a loose idea of a fun craft activity to complete, or a little home-schooling, will help them to feel secure.
Learn through play
The good news is that children learn best when they don’t know they’re learning! So, where possible, keep learning light and fun – they’ll then be able to focus more easily when you do want them to sit down and concentrate in a more formal way.
So, make the most of Lego, puzzles, playdough and role play! Read lots of books and play board games too – Articulate, Scrabble, Monopoly… there are so many that can provide a platform for some sneaky learning!
Make the most of the resources available for your children
No-one is expecting you to become a qualified teacher overnight! There are so many free resources available online, plus they’ll be age-appropriate and tailored to the curriculum – doing a lot of the leg work for you. Twinkl is currently offering a free subscription to thousands of printable worksheets, puzzles and colouring pages; this is definitely worth doing.
And, since most children are addicted to their tablets, encourage them to play some web games – they probably won’t even notice they’re learning! Websites like Top Marks, Fun English Games, and Maths Frame have lots of free educational games available.
Cook up a storm
There is so much value in doing some baking or cooking dinner together. As well as being an important skill to teach, and lots of fun, cooking is such a great way to engage children and can be used to promote learning across the curriculum too!
Talk to your children about diet and nutrition, and discuss where the ingredients come from and how they grow. Encourage them to read the recipe themselves, and use measuring scales and jugs to develop their maths skills. From a science perspective, explore the importance of chemical reactions in cooking.
Stay active with Children’s YouTube Videos
We all know that children need to let off steam and exercise – otherwise they drive us crazy! If you’re stuck indoors for long periods, make the most of YouTube.
Joe Wicks is offering a live PE lesson on his channel, Monday through to Friday at 9 am – a great way to kick start the morning. My daughter, Lola, loves Cosmic Kids Yoga too; yoga routines based on children’s movies and themes.
Get outside with the kids when you can
Isolation doesn’t have to mean being stuck indoors. Nature is so therapeutic so get some fresh air in the garden, or if possible go for a walk somewhere spacious and quiet where social contact can be avoided. Just getting out and about will make things feel a little bit more normal, during this very surreal time.
If you have a garden, use bikes and garden equipment to encourage children to get some fresh air and exercise. And, spring is the perfect season for planting vegetable seeds! So, keep your little, green-fingered friends busy by starting a veggie patch or planting into pots. Talk about what plants need, and get the kids involved in every step of the process.
Set time aside for yourself
Schedule in time for yourself and stick to it. I’m confining my children’s home-schooling to a few mornings a week and after lunch, it’ll be my designated sofa and green-tea time!
We have lots of fun afternoons planned with gardening and craft, but for that hour in between, I will be exercising a little self-care, and I urge you to do the same. If that means that the kids spend an hour watching TV, destroying their bedrooms or playing on their tablets, then so be it. A burnt-out parent is no good to anyone!
Don’t forget to nurture creativity and the arts; they are just as important and great for relieving stress too! Get the craft box out, paint pictures, use nature to create art in the garden and raid the recycling bin! Preloved has a 50% off exclusive offer on arts and crafts materials which you can claim here.
Why not use art to theme a project too? You could explore history topics through an art project, or learn about places around the world by creating a cultural collage. There are lots of ways to learn creatively, so get arty!
Be realistic when teaching your children
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start when it comes to teaching your children, or worried about juggling working from home, take the pressure off and lower your expectations. That way if you have a good day it’ll be a bonus, and if you don’t get anything done, it isn’t the end of the world.
Set small, achievable targets for each day and if you complete even half of that, then it’s still a job well done. Everyone is in the same boat, and the physical and mental health of you and your family has to be your main priority. So, if you fancy a day in your pyjamas watching TV, then that’s exactly what you should do! This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Have some fun!
Don’t make everything about learning! Here are 30 fun activities to keep everyone occupied and lighten the mood: