We are living in unusual times, and with schools closing, parents might be dreading the prospect of having their children at home 24/7 without the option to visit cinemas, theme parks, museums and other amenities.
To make this time less stressful, and to get the most benefit from the crisis, you may find it helpful to think about how parents managed with their children at home in the past, before screens and compulsory schooling. Children were expected to help around the home, or entertain themselves by playing, reading, handcrafts, working outside, etc. These days, most parents wouldn’t want their child on a screen for weeks at a time, so going back to the way things were done “back in the day” is surprisingly helpful when looking for ideas of things to do with their children that don’t involve screens. However, remember that computers and tablets are still a resource, and can be helpful if used wisely.
The main thing is to RELAX!! Enjoy having the gift of time to reconnect with your children without all the usual busy-ness, and remember that if you are stressed, they can pick up on it, and it can affect their behaviour.
Another important point that any experienced home educator will emphasize is not to feel like you have to have a schedule or timetable. Some children like routine, but this can still be kept fairly loose and flexible – more of a rhythm to your day than a rigid timetable. If your child’s school is assigning regular work online, you may want to consider when and how to accommodate that.
Remember that we can learn through everything we do. Children are born knowing how to learn instinctively, and given enough space and boredom, will find something to do. You can be a facilitator, to point them in the direction of good resources, but avoid trying to take over.
This is also a time for creativity and play!
Let them go on their own journey of discovery. One of the best ways to engage your children is to find something productive to do and include them in it. Children love it when they can see a result to what they’ve done – baking, gardening, and even housework can offer that feeling of fulfilment. In respect of housework, I find it works well for younger children to take them with me, room by room, and get them to help me. One might throw away rubbish, another might dust/wipe down, and another might like to hoover. When it’s done, move on to the next room. This is a great time to be teaching them life skills, like making their own beds, doing laundry, planning meals, budgeting, etc.
Home Educators would normally have opportunities for extensive social interaction and educational visits, but obviously this is not really an option right now. However, you could connect with other friends and families via Facetime or Skype, for chats, and sharing some of your fun activities.
Some activity ideas (adapt for age and ability):
- Arts and crafts – decoupage, needle-felting, paint bottles with acrylic paints
- Reading just for the joy of it
- Nature walks
- Gardening – plant veg/fruit,
- Playdough – there are recipes online to make your own
- Fort building
- Writing letters
- Make a scrapbook or write a diary
- Work towards a Blue Peter Badge
- Writing newsletters to send to families who are self-isolating
- Making gifts from scratch
- Lapbooking unit studies
- Needlecrafts – sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet, knitting
- Learn to play a musical instrument using online tutorials
- Plan and prepare a meal for the family
- Have a tea-party or picnic in your garden if the weather is pleasant
- Make a fairy garden, or make your own dolls house and furniture with recycling
- Junk modelling – build robots, cars, etc.
For some of these you may need supplies, so it will depend on whether you can order what you need online or not. There are also tutorials for pretty much anything you want to learn.
If you have a garden, don’t limit yourselves to indoor activities – get children making mudpies, or helping with weeding and planting. Children love to watch plants grow, and now is the time for thinking about any vegetables or flowers you’d like to plant.
Groups on Facebook offering support and advice:
- Temporary Home Education Families
- HE UK: Free Home School Lockdown Resources & Support
- Headhub Home Education Support Q&A
Some Helpful Online resources/Apps
- Youtube educational videos/documentaries, or tutorials for learning new skills, like playing the guitar, arts, crafts
- Online games like Minecraft
- Twinkl – offering free resources for a month
- Khan Academy
- Early Years Resources
- Duolingo language learning
- The Muddy Puddle Teacher – outdoor learning
- BBC Bitesize
- Science Sparks
- Chatterpack – helpful for SEND
- Inclusive Teach – helpful for SEND
- Revision World
- Virtual Museum Tours and collections
- Teaching Packs Youtube channels for home learning