I think we all agree that these are strange times indeed, and I know that many of us are struggling to adjust to new ways of home working, isolation, child care and the daunting prospect of Home Schooling.
When it comes to Home Learning, many of us feel totally ill-equipped to take this task on, especially at very short notice at a time of extreme uncertainty. We are worried about our children being worried, we’re worried about the effect this crisis will have on their mental wellbeing as well as their education and we’re worried that we’re failing on a daily basis!
Some schools have provided comprehensive Home Learning packs and internet resources whereas others are attempting online lessons and some have simply set some guidelines and sent home work sheets.
It has so far been my experience that more of a pick and mix schedule works for my son; he was really resistant to following a set schedule and didn’t engage with the school worksheets because they are ‘revision’ and he liked that in lessons they always learnt something new! Our topic of choice at present is Ancient Egyptians, my son has been reading The Story of Tutankhamun by Patricia Cleveland-Peck:
He is really enjoying reading the story and he has been supplementing this with learning about hieroglyphs, papyrus and the Egyptian gods (I may well be in my element here!) So far the website that has proved most useful is BBC Bitesize – the topics are clearly laid out and the videos and quizzes hold his interest. Prior to this Home Schooling period, we usually relied on the fab Britanicca resource which is available free with your library card (and has information for almost every topic) for our research and homework.
I would in no way say that our Home Learning experience is going well – we have good days and bad days and I honestly feel like I’m falling down on the job. I think I am most worried about the length of time he will be away from formal learning and how he will adapt back to a classroom environment after all this time.
As you can imagine, I am quite opinionated when it comes to reading and I am strongly opposed to making reading a chore. Every child engages with reading in a different way and I know many of you won’t have stocks of books at home for your children. Our libraries may be closed but you can still access eBooks and eAudio through our BorrowBox service and we do have a really good selection of children’s titles. You may find that your child is reluctant to read at home and there are many ‘tricks’ that you can try to engage them in ‘secret reading’ as I like to call it! For example, you could play a board game and put them in charge of reading the rules or the game cards. You could suggest some baking and ask them to read and measure out the ingredients (I like to think of baking as encompassing English, Maths and Science!)
Audiobooks are a great way to get children to engage with reading (and we have plenty on BorrowBox!) We currently have three titles in our Listen Now/Read Now – No Waiting collection that are available in both audio and eBook format:
You may find that allowing your child to alternatively listen and read may encourage them more. If you are interested in more audio suggestions then check out my Family Listening post from May last year.
I know I have written about this before, but I can’t stress enough, how beneficial reading aloud with your children can be. If they do not want to read, try reading to them, you could ask them to help you with words or suggest they read the next page because your throat is sore or something similar. You could start or end your learning day with a story and of course where possible, read to them before bed!
Allowing choice is really important, let them read the books they are interested in, don’t be guided by ‘levels’ or reading lists – at the moment, all reading is good reading.
I let my son have free rein last week and decreed that he could choose any book in the house to read and he chose Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He is a bona fide Harry Potter super fan and has been excitedly relaying every single detail to me! This isn’t a book I ever thought of suggesting to him as I thought the format would be off putting – turns out I was wrong! Don’t be worried if your children turn to ‘younger’ books during this upheaval period, they may find old childhood favourites comforting and will eventually go back to their usual reading habits. I am always happy to re-visit Room on the Broom or Green Eggs and Ham, given the opportunity.
Many authors are creating online challenges for their readers at this time so it is worth having a look to see if your child’s favourite author has posted any content.
For more Reading ideas and recommendations you can try the following websites:
- BookTrust – Interactive books to read online and a dedicated Hometime area, which includes children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell reading How to Train Your Dragon.
- World Book Day’s Storytime Online
- Storyline Online – Streaming videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
Sorry – I do have quite a lot to say about reading! Moving on now to other areas… I think that learning should be fun and whilst this situation we find ourselves in is stressful we should try to make it a positive experience and enjoy the extra time with our children, if we possibly can.
You can make use of all sorts of things at home for learning, from baking to gardening, Lego to board games and arts and crafts. Even household chores can be made into a game.
We have been collating helpful Home Learning links and we will continue to add to these over time:
Our Top Tips:
- Keep the learning sessions in short bursts, use resources given to you by your class teacher and supplement these with other fun activities to keep their interest.
- Keep active, include some physical activity every day. Try these NHS Change4Life 10-minute shake-ups, or the Body Coach Joe Wicks is running 30 minute fun workouts for kids (you might want to sit this one out!!!) every weekday morning on his YouTube channel at 9am – PE with Joe
- Be creative. Find simple crafts you can do as a family or try some painting or drawing activities. Explore the garden and spend some time with nature, if you can.
- Have fun! These are unprecedented and irregular times but remember to have fun together as a family and enjoy this time together.
How have you been coping with Home Schooling and Home Working? Let me know if you have any tips and I hope you have found this interesting.
Good luck everyone, stay safe.
Our Libraries are closed but you can still stay in contact: