Help! How Balance Home Life and Home Schooling
We are all trying to balance so many things at the moment in this difficult Coronavirus situation. As a primary school tutor, teaching children after school in 1:1 sessions, I wanted to share a few ideas with you that will hopefully help with at least the home schooling element of the day!
It is very difficult to balance home working with home schooling and a good dose of realism is going to be required for the sake of everyone’s sanity. Aim for a couple of hours of ‘school work’ and then take the opportunity of involving your child with things that are going on in the house, treating each one as a learning opportunity. Could they help make the lunch (and learn about healthy eating, where food comes from or food preparation skills while they are doing it)? If you are able to get out in the garden or have a window box, this might be the perfect moment to sow some seeds together so they can learn about nurturing their own living thing.
Any of these practical tasks can then be built into their other learning. Grab any spark of interest and build on it. To give the example of growing seeds, this could be built on with younger primary children by reading ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and then they might be inspired to write their own version or adapt it to make it their own seed story.
If you are finally finding time to bake, while stuck in the house (if you can find some flour in the supermarket) then this could be a good opportunity to learn about practical examples of weighing and you could tie this in with some more formal maths learning for older primary children, for example, converting between kilograms and grams or estimating the mass of different items in the house.
These are just a few examples but the main key to success with this is to choose things which you or your child are genuinely interested in and build on that, whether it is wood-work, photography or anything else!
I have learnt whilst teaching that most learning can be turned into a game and children are much more likely to learn if they are having fun. The real challenge of a teacher is finding a way of teaching that is fun and that is sometimes hard in a class of 30 with a strict timetable to work to. You might not feel qualified to be a home teacher for your child but you are the one who really knows and understands your child and is most able to tailor their learning to their interests and how they learn best. If your child can never sit still then try and build in some active learning – can they run to pick up the correct number from the other side of the room? If your child is musical – can they look at times table songs on the internet and then make up their own (they will definitely remember one of their own)?
Coming back to more formal school work, many children may have been set work by school to be completed at home and some of this may be causing confusion. It may be phonics that is causing you to pull your hair out or it is these modern maths methods? There is a wealth of information on the internet nowadays but there is so much that is sometimes difficult to know where to start. This is an area where parents could share great sites they have found that are free to use, as many questions are specific to different ages and interests. A good place to get started is all the great BBC teaching resources including www.bbc.uk/teach , Supermovers and BBC iPlayer programmes and www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize (where you can search for particular parts of the curriculum). The Hamilton Trust is also offering free resources and home learning packs at https://www.hamilton-trust.org.uk/blog/learning-home-packs/ .
Exercise is going to be so important to keeping our children happy and able to focus during the day. Joe Wicks provides half an hour sessions on YouTube at 9am each weekday morning in a great, fun work out designed for children. This will not only enable your children to work off some of their excess energy, it will also give you the chance to get some essential jobs done and just think about the day ahead! Exercising in the fresh air is also really important and current guidance is that we are still able to go outside with a family member to go for a walk or cycle. Apart from the benefits of exercise, it gives everyone a boost to see the signs of Spring at this time of year.
So a final tip is to get some kind of routine that works for you and your children. Aim to include some formal learning, some learning based around activities in the home as well as some exercise each day. If you able to do this, you are doing really well so give yourself a treat and try and build some relaxation time for yourself and your partner too!