With the lockdown extension now seeing us racking up another three weeks of homeschool (at least – the likelihood will be many more weeks), perhaps at this point you may be feeling a bit “meh” about everything? Or maybe you’re totally exhausted and wondering how on earth you’re going to keep this up for the foreseeable? Today I wanted to share some wise words from the deputy head of a West London primary school Fran Fox – also mum to two somewhat loopy kids, and creator of the Facebook group Teachers RULE, Okay. – on how to not let more homeschooling during the lockdown extension freak you out over the coming weeks.
Everyone is in the same boat. You have and always will be your children’s primary educator, they learn most things from you. These few months will be hard, but there’s so much you can teach them about being resilient, talking about your feelings, coping with hardship. This is the greatest character education they could receive.
Reading and more reading!
Prioritise reading, to them, with them, doing flash cards, oxford reading buddy, whatever.
Exercise, with them as a family, with Joe Wicks, on a trampoline, dancing in the kitchen, it’s important as they will need this as much as any ‘learning’ they do.
Do the things they enjoy
Bake, draw, make a nerf gun target practice and add up the points, lead from their interests. They find a caterpillar in the garden, research it, write about it, write stories. Remember, they also pick up your likes and dislikes so much – so show them what you love, they’ll pick it up, they’ll get into it because you are. It brings you together as a family.
Teach them values
Teach them the value of being kind, doing nice things for your neighbours, FaceTiming their grandparents, writing letters to their friends.
Use the teacher carrot and stick
The school has given you work, your kids are at home for weeks on end, they know they have to work, their teacher will be in contact hopefully in some form, use this as a threat, there is no shame in this, right now.
Don’t fret about screen time
But watch the socialising via apps etc- this is the last time you need something negative being said or done via Xbox or WhatsApp. This will also cause issues for the teachers who are trying to do so many things – please help us out by keeping an eye on how your kid is socialising online. Remember schools are open and if something sad happens online, we will hear about it and it will take time away from the really important job at school – taking care of the vulnerable and the key workers kids who really need their kids cared for.
Coming together as a family, the happiest of happy by-products of this dreadful mess. Time spent together right now, learning about and from each other is beautiful.
Do your best
Your best is good enough. Keep your family safe, happy and fed, this is priority #1, all the stuff above is a bonus. Stay safe all. Stay indoors. Remember, this is lockdown, crisis time, let’s remember that. A wise friend who had twins at the same time I had my son told me “do whatever gets you through” she knew the truth, lower expectations, sanity is important, as long as you are keeping them safe, happy and fed it’s all cool.
And cut yourself some slack
Let’s try to cut ourselves some slack, and enjoy some parts of this awful time. Sometimes you’re the best parent ever, sometimes you’re a total walking disaster zone – just like your kids are. That is the truth of homeschooling during lockdown, and of being a parent at any given time.
About Fran Fox
Hi, I’m Fran Fox is a deputy headteacher at a West London primary school, lead on mental health, and I’m a mum of two lovely if somewhat loopy kids, Ted, 7 (Y2) and Kitty 4 (Nursery). I have been teaching for 20 years this year and a deputy for 10 of those. I have always loved teaching, from a young age I loved working with children, I have always had the philosophy that all children no matter what their background, ability or experience can make astonishing progress, it’s all about belief and the right teaching methods matched to the child. (News flash- you know your kids better than anyone else, so you can crush this).
I love making connections with every single one of the children I work with. It’s all about the relationship, get that right and you’re on to a winner. This is why working with my own children was suddenly very scary, I know my own children hate me to teach them, there’s so much love and baggage bound up in your relationship already which does make it super hard, so I knew it would be tough.
In the run-up to lockdown I felt the same panic in all my mum friends. All of us panicking for one reason and many. So… I started a little Facebook group to help teacher friends connect with parents, the idea was for parents to be able to ask for advice on particular difficulties they might have with home learning.
I managed to get about 25 teachers on there of different age groups. All sharing ideas and being on hand to help. But then I started to use it as a place to have solidarity and share the challenges of this awful situation.
Social media is such a dreadful place to be when we all feel low, it’s not real, it’s just what you want to show, like parenting with makeup on, or a filter which shows the very best parts of your time with your kids. Which is so damaging for other parents to read, a photo of you looking fab post-workout or on a night out is one thing. But when you feel low about your parenting because someone has posted loads of amazing stuff they are doing without any real talk about how one kid did a wee on the carpet while you were ‘nailing it’ doing messy play is not kind.
And let’s face it, we all need to be kind right now. I have also quite enjoyed talking about how blinking hard I am finding it. Giving advice is easy, taking it on yourself is twice as hard. I like a list. I’m a teacher. ‘To do’ lists are my bread and butter. I hope you find them helpful.
Picture credit: Home photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com