By Rosie Cattani 18 years’ experience of teaching in primary education and 10 years’ experience as a parent. We’re now past the end of the Easter ‘holiday' and with schools still closed, I thought I'd share a few tips and ideas to help you and your family through the next few weeks of home-schooling.
The first thing to bear in mind is that children thrive on routine. They love to know what is happening now and what’s going to happen next. At school they would have a timetable to follow and there is no reason why you can’t have one at home. Create a timetable that works for you and your family. This doesn’t have to be rigid; it can be as simple as a series of activities that will take place throughout the day. Write the activities on individual cards that can be moved so, if you need time to make a call or something, then ‘TV time’ can be moved to accommodate this. Let your child create the timetable with you so that they have some ownership of it. The activities could be titled: maths, reading, writing, free time, art, fresh air and exercise.
Flexibility is the key to following a timetable at home. Be guided by how your child is responding; if they are fully engaged in an activity then allow them to continue and extend the activity. If they seem to be finding something challenging, take a break and come back to it another time.
Be realistic and keep perspective – some days will be better than others (sometimes we have abandoned the timetable by mid-morning!). But don’t give up. Remember, each morning can be a fresh start. If you have a child who is reluctant to do their school work, create a simple reward chart to motivate them – a tick or a smiley face for trying their best. Once they have achieved a certain number of these, they could choose a reward at the end of the day or week (depending on your child’s age), e.g. Playing a game, computer time or even a favourite sweet!
You will not be able to replicate the school day at home and for many parents, who are juggling working from home and trying to home-school, this would be an impossible task. Schools, parents and children are all experiencing this for the first time so we are all having to adapt and do our best to find our way through. Remember, this isn’t forever.