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Home learning

 

If you are a parent you don’t need me to tell you how stressful home learning has been during the pandemic. Many parents here in the UK have been educating their children at home for almost six months out of the last twelve, it doesn’t get any easier.

During the first lockdown there was an air of excitement and schools were encouraged to do whatever was needed to get our children through this time of crisis. Parents were baking, gardening, colouring and watching nature programmes and that, perhaps combined with some worksheets, was deemed to be enough to get our children through this temporary emergency state. As the time frame has changed and we are now looking at at least twelve months of disruption to learning though, the pressure put on schools by the government has changed dramatically. 

They are now being expected to teach a full timetable, mostly on live video calls, and the government even encouraged parents to report schools to OFSTED if they weren’t happy. What an appalling way to treat a profession who have worked, alongside our other keyworkers, throughout this pandemic, working much longer hours and putting themselves and their own families at risk.

Before I go any further I want to assure you that, however you are feeling about home learning, your child’s teachers are doing their best. Often teacher key worker’s children in the classroom, while supporting the children working at home and worrying about their own children. They would much rather be teaching your children in school, it is easier for them and it is the part of the job they love the most.

Now we have established that noone is particularly happy about the situation we find ourselves in I want to reassure you. 

You are doing an amazing job.

You might feel like you are drowning some days, you might have lost your temper or had a good cry. Maybe you had a really big gin and tonic at 6pm yesterday, or ate a whole packet of biscuits. You are human. You didn’t plan your life expecting to have your children at home during the school term. It isn’t that you don’t love them. You may even be enjoying having them at home all the time. 

You aren’t a teacher – and even if you are, teaching your own children is a very different thing to teaching other people’s children. I would choose teaching a class full of other people’s children over teaching two of my own any day!

How can we make home learning manageable?

There are many things we can do to make this time easier for everyone. It is important to remember that everyone’s situation is different, and not all these points will work for you, or even apply to you. Hopefully though everyone will take something helpful away from this.

home learning child

1. Take a deep breath

Breathing exercises calm the body and help your brain to function more effectively. When we feel stressed or cornered our breathing becomes shallow and our ability to problem solve and process information logically is reduced dramatically. Take three or four deep breaths before you start and everything will feel easier and more logical.

2. Don’t try to make home learning school

Unless your child asks you to make your time learning together like it would be at school, don’t even try. Honestly, unless you have worked in schools recently, you probably don’t really know what schools are like and how children learn in school these days anyway. Make a space on a table or desk where you will do written work but if your child wants a snack during a lesson, and youthink that will help them concentrate, then there’s no harm in them having one. If your child is getting restless and fidgetty, let them go run round the garden for a few minutes. Create your own routine and your own rules.

3. Talk to the teachers

Teachers want to know how you are getting on. If your child is really struggling, you don’t have the equipment you need, or you are worried that you don’t know how to explain something properly, just talk to them. They may not be able to respond immediately, but teachers are working so hard to make this easier for everyone. They don’t want you to struggle alone. 

4. Prioritise

Depending on the age of your child you can probably prioritise certain aspects of their work. For younger children this will probably be reading, writing and maths work. Older children may be allowed to not attend all the online sessions if they need time to catch up with their written work. It may be better for them to attend the online sessions and not worry about all the written work. Ask the teachers and let them know that your child is struggling.

5. Use relaxation techniques

Managing our emotions has never been more important. Whether it is breathing techniques, meditation, yoga… use whatever you feel works best for your family to help everyone stay calm and happy.

6. Get plenty of exercise

Exercise is so important for helping us regulate our stress levels, as well as keeping us physically well. With everything happening inside our homes at the moment and children spending so much time sitting in front of screens, just going for a walk every day will have a huge impact on their mood, as well as their physical and mental health.

Whether it is a family walk, bike ride or a play in the park, make sure your children are getting outside every day.

7. Make sure you are all getting enough sleep 

With no school run to be up for it is easy to fall into the trap of allowing your children to stay up later than usual and then let them roll out of bed five minutes before their first lesson. Children need to be awake and alert if they are going to learn, but equally importantly, it is while we are asleep that we process most of the stress chemicals our body releases during the day. Without sufficent sleep we wake feeling stressed and short tempered. 

8. You can’t pour from an empty cup

If you are one of the many parents juggling full time work at home and home learning make sure you don’t end up exhausting yourself. If you are working into the night catching up on your work so that you can be there to  help your children through the day you will burn yourself out and then you can’t help anyone. Your work is putting food on the table and a roof over your child’s head, that makes it your priority. Find something educational on the TV (BBC Bitesize has some amazing programmes on demand) and let them sit and watch that while you get some work done. Perhaps you could read a book together while you have a break or do a worksheet while you eat your lunch. As long as you are doing something, you are winning. 

 

Everything will be ok 

This isn’t a tip as much as a message.

Whatever you do or don’t manage to do during this time of home learning, please know that everything will be ok. Our children will be learning so many life skills at the moment. They have already learned to be so adaptable. They are learning to cope with changes to their routine, learning to process their emotions, perhaps to bake or cook, to be more patient with each other. They are learning that life is unpredictable but that everything will be ok in the end. It really will.  

When our children do return to school, and they will, every child in the class will have had a very different experience of home learning. The teachers are acutely aware of this and will be prepared to fill in any gaps and support the children as they carry on their learning journey, whatever point they are starting from. 

 The most important thing we can do for our children right now is make sure they are happy, that they feel safe and loved and they are ready to return to school. For our children to be happy and calm we need to somehow manage to remain calm and happy too.  

If you need help with your child’s wellbeing or you are a teacher looking for wellbeing resources please do visit my Calmer Classroom website. 

 

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