Many of you, like me, will be facing the daunting task of home-schooling from next week (hats off to those already doing it!). We’re all going to have our own worries and concerns, but there are so many free resources available to help us, and with just a little bit of planning, some of the stress can easily be lifted. We’re all in this together and so I wanted to share some of the things that I’m going to be using with my children (Gabby, 9 and Freddie, 8) in the hope that it might help you too.
And for those of you that might be worrying that you have to spend the whole day doing school work or educational activities to equate to their time in school – have a read of this article that really puts into perspective how much time in school is actually spent learning, and take the pressure off yourself!
It’s really important for those of us that will be staying home with our children to keep calm, have a plan (of sorts!), remain in control and to look positively towards this experience. It is scary, but projecting our worries onto the children is not going to help the situation. Make sure that YOU find time daily to do something to keep your sanity; it could be an uninterrupted bubble bath at the end of the day with a nice glass of wine, 5 minutes of deep breathing or meditation in the morning or just half an hour to read a book. As parents, particularly mums, we have a tendency to put everyone else’s needs first, but it’s important not to forget about our own well being. If you find yourself feeling worried or isolated and need to talk to someone, The Help Hub are a group of qualified therapists, giving their time for FREE. They are offering a 20 minute chat on Skype, FaceTime or on the telephone. You can book a session with them through their calendar and they will contact you at the relevant time.
Talk to your children
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter woke up in the night, crying about Coronavirus and worrying that she was going to die. Yes that’s harsh. I felt awful. I thought by not bringing it up I was doing the right thing and not making a deal out of it – I honestly didn’t realise just how much and how in-depth it was being discussed in the playground. If your children need help to understand why they can’t go to school because of Coronavirus, there are many videos and articles that speak to children in language that they understand. I’ve found Newsround really helpful – they offer advice if your children are worried and answer the most commonly asked questions. Ultimately, you want your children to come through this experience knowing that you made them feel safe and stable during a scary time and that they had quality time with you doing loads of fun activities.
Time is precious
This is one of the things that I’ve seen being shared the most. Use this time with your children to teach them something they’ve not done before – it could be learning to sew, cook, use a washing machine, play a musical instrument – the World is your oyster! You’re getting to spend time with your children that you wouldn’t normally have, so make the most of it. Get in those extra cuddles, soak up reading together, enjoying exploring and having fun.
I find that keeping to a routine can help immensely in times of change. As an ex-military family, we were used to daddy going away for long periods of time and often at short notice. Sticking to our usual routine really helped keep things feeling ‘normal’. You can find ways to work around the “no school” part and have a plan in place for a bit of structure for your days ahead. My son told me this morning that he’s going to miss walking to school everyday. I suggested that we keep doing it, but instead of going into school, we’ll walk the long way round and then we’ve done a bit of exercise and had some fresh air to start the day. The majority of schools will be sending homework back with them and providing guidance on what your child should be doing and for how long each day. Block out your day into hourly chunks and allocate time for learning, exercise, playing, having fun, snacking etc. You don’t have to stick to it 100%, but it might help keeping the children from going crazy! I’m going to include my children when putting our plan together so that they feel involved too. I’m also not going to get in a flap if one day we really just feel like staying in our PJs, watching movies and playing games!
Free resources – take advantage
There are literally endless amounts of educational resources available and I can’t share them all, but here are some of the ones that I have seen being recommended.
FREE to download – Home Learning Packs and Activities from TTS
FREE ebooks, plus interactive games and activities for reading comprehension from Oxford Owl
Need help understanding how to teach your child? PopBug, usually £5.99 per month is now free for the next 2 months – just select “home access 2020” plan
FREE home learning support from Twinkl
Education printable and hands-on learning ideas from ABCS to ACTs
Now FREE, World Book Reader have over 3,000 ebooks and audio books
Nobody likes cabin fever and I’m clinging to the hope that the weather is changing and Spring is finally coming and that we’ll be able to get outside more!
The National Trust will, where possible, open as many of its gardens and parks for free, but close its houses, cafes and shops to help the nation fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Go on a scavenger hunt – find 30+ FREE printable scavenger hunts here
Kids need to burn off their endless amounts of energy, but if they can’t get outside to run around, try these youtube channels to get them active
Cosmic Yoga for kids 3yrs+, yoga, mindfulness and relaxation
The Kiboomers, cute dance videos, great for toddlers
Kidz Pop – sing and dance along to current hits
Joe Wicks will be streaming live PE classes for the kids every day from Monday 23rd March at 9am
Rainy day activities
FREE cook-along videos
FREE online toddler party – 10am Friday 20th March, with additional dates to be added
Learn to code for FREE with Code Camp who have scrapped subscriptions fees
FREE online Forest School – learn indoors to take outdoors
Stay in touch
Understandably, the kids are going to miss seeing their friends everyday at school. This is a great time to get them writing letters to each other to keep connected, and they’ll have something lovely to keep and treasure. Set up Skype or FaceTime chats, or use Zoom to set up video conferencing for FREE, allowing a maximum of 40 minutes chat with up to 100 people. Don’t forget to check in with your friends too, to just check they are OK or if they need a virtual hug. Games such as Roblox and Minecraft, used with careful adult supervision also allow interactivity between children via online chat.
Document this time
Get the kids to keep a diary, take pictures and make this time something special to remember. Writing things down might also help children to voice their worries and fears and how they overcame them. It will be something to look back on and remember that during this scary time, you all came together as a family and got through it. You might also be getting to do fun, new things with your children, so take a minute to document all the new experiences and activities to remember all the good and happy times you’re going to have. Have a look here at my 365 project, where I’m taking a photo a day for a year for some inspiration.
Allocate time for snacking to avoid countless trips to the supermarket to top up! Get the kids involved in preparing snacks for the day first thing in the morning, cutting up fruit and vegetables etc and putting in snack boxes ready for snack time. Avoid the “what’s for breakfast…lunch…dinner” by coming up with menus together and stick them up on the fridge.
Use this time to have a good old sort out of toys, books and games. Perhaps instead of selling, offer items for free for families who might be struggling to keep their children entertained due to financial constraints?
Look for the silver linings
Everyone is going to be in a different situation, to some this may be no different to any other time, especially those with children who aren’t of school age, or those who already homeschool. It might now mean that your partner is working from home and can give you a half hour break during the day that you wouldn’t normally get. Try and find your silver lining every day, find a reason to smile or laugh or to be grateful.
I really hope that you’ve found something useful here that will help just take a bit of pressure off for what’s to come. Please reach out to me, or others if you find you just need someone to talk to. And please, if you’ve got any advice that will help others, please comment below – now is a time more than ever that we really need to support and help each other. Stay strong and enjoy this time with your children, make it special, fun and memorable for all the right reasons.