With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing nurseries, schools and colleges across the UK to close and social distancing measures driving many people to work from home, parents have a whole new set of challenges to overcome. Trying to fit in 40 hours of work in a week and homeschooling is no mean feat.
Our guide is here to help you navigate this new horizon and stave off feelings of overwhelm at a time when your past routines are no longer a luxury you can afford, and support is harder to access.
From Parent to Parent
While, as we say above, support may be harder to access due to pressures to commit to social distancing, you can take comfort from the fact that the difficulties posed by this new reality are also being faced by millions of parents all over the world.
Attesting to that fact is a letter that has been doing the rounds on social media, offering sage advice to parents uncertain of how to do right by their families amid deeply uncertain times.
Dear parents with school-aged children,
You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing…
Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for 4 weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.
Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behaviour issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.
What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.
Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do math. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it.
If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those 4 weeks is long gone. So keep that in mind, every single day.
Stay safe. X
In a nutshell, you’ve got this!
Making a Plan
Coming up with a plan – a simple, flexible daily schedule – will help alleviate some of the unknown and should also help to curb some of those tantrums. And there is a whole raft of support out there to help you.
Understanding your work hours and commitment to the business
It’s unrealistic for any employer to expect you to deliver the same number of hours you were doing when you had school and childcare in place, all parents are in the same situation – prioritise and don’t over-promise.
Work in shifts with your partner/family members
You guys are in this together and it needs to be a level playing field. Have a quick huddle each evening to decide what shifts will work around your individual commitments and then map it on the calendar.
Build in independent play
This may be hard in the beginning, but kids adapt really quickly and don’t forget, at school this was part of their daily routine – be patient and this will become part of your new routine too.
Work alongside your child/children
Devise lists of fun craft activities they can complete with you sat at the opposite end of the kitchen or dining room table. Similarly, fun games they can play with their siblings work a treat to give you an hour or two to get on with your to-do list, jump on a conference call or catch up on your Slack messages.
Screen time or tech time
Whilst we’re always trying to limit this, even in school this forms part of the curriculum, so don’t feel guilty about including it in your new routine. Tech time can also double up as a reward for completing other tasks well or having a calm independent play.
Make sure you replicate school mealtimes and snack time
Kids are happy to deviate on the weekend, but we all know the holiday Hangry monster. Keep it at bay and follow the normal set-up.
Include them in chores
Kids love feeling involved and having a purpose, so work with them to help you – think Mary Poppins… put on some music, make it fun and reward accordingly!
Now, you may think a regular exercise regimen will be near impossible to pull off at a time of coronavirus social distancing and increased self-isolation. Not necessarily. You’ll be pleased to know that our favourite YouTube fitness coach, the Body Coach has recently announced his plans to lend parents and their children a helping hand. Starting Monday at 9am, the Body Coach will be running a kids’ PE session on YouTube every day of the week.
Fully aware of the pressure facing parents, the Body Coach is happy to keep your kids busy for 30 minutes a day, helping you make sure their time away from school is more than just vegging out and getting up to boredom-induced mischief.
A daily dose of PE is a great way to start the day and maybe you, too, can join in and soak up some of those endorphins!
Now that the kids can’t play together, there is a new craze hitting the nation (yes, this quickly) for children to make their own rainbow posters and put them in the window. Then when children go out for walks in their neighbourhood, they can play a rainbow spy game!
It won’t be hard to get your kids excited about it and it could very well prove to be a great way of keeping your kids entertained and engaged while school’s out. Not to mention the amazing health benefits of going for walks and getting to look at things other than your living room wall.
Whilst Amazon can still be depended on to fulfil orders, you may want to consider investing in a copy of Roald Dahl: George’s Marvellous Experiments – a fantastic book filled with great ideas for experiments, activities, and easy-to-follow recipes that can be brought to life using things you most likely have in your kitchen cupboard. A sure-fire and productive way of killing some time and getting your kids excited about science. What’s not to like?
There are so many benefits to teaching your children how to cook, so why not take the pain out of having to prepare 3 meals per day, 7 days per week, by making it a fun activity to do together and bonding time?
From enhancing fine motor skills, increasing math ability and improving reading skills to introducing your children to scientific concepts, the benefits of cooking with your children are endless. Not to mention teaching them about healthy eating and allowing them to develop a more adventurous palette. Cooking together is a no-brainer especially when both parents and children are in the same boat in terms of limits on what they can and can’t do when practising Covid-19 social distancing.
And if you’re short of ideas for what to cook with your children, My Fussy Eater, a UK kids food blog, is a great resource filled with healthy eating recipes and fun food ideas that even the pickiest of eaters will love.
Eats Amazing is another great website packed with recipes and tips for making food that your kids will love, presented in a way that’s bound to get your child excited about food. From breakfasts to dinners, healthy packed lunches to snacks and treats, they’ve got it covered!
And if you’d prefer something you can add to your bookshelf, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story is another great resource. Beautifully illustrated and featuring 15 stories and a wide range of easy-to-follow recipes, the book is a great and effective way of getting your children interested in baking. And the good news is that you won’t have to leave your house to get it as Amazon currently offers it for £11.95 on their website.
Snuggling Up with a Book
For activities that help your children stay on top of their learning, reading is an amazing pastime. From improved concentration and language skills to teaching your children about the world around them and developing compassion, reading definitely deserves a spot in your kids’ new routines.
To make it easier for parents to provide their children with reading material, World Book Online has just made their collection of over 3,000 eBooks and audiobooks available for free to access from the comfort of your home. Featuring books suitable for all ages and covering countless topics, we highly recommend taking up World Book Online on their generous offer.
Click here to access the books.
Although you’d rather not add to your children’s stress and try to overcompensate for their lack of schooling, you do want to keep them stimulated and make sure their learning doesn’t come to a complete standstill. The great news is that the Internet is home to a wide range of resources and materials to help your child stay intellectually engaged without it feeling like a chore.
Below you can find a list of such resources compiled by a parent who homeschools.
BrainPop is a great educational website featuring more than 1,000 short animated movies and quizzes suitable for both primary and secondary-age children. Covering anything from science and social studies to maths and technology, Brain Pop will keep your kiddos entertained and learning while school’s out.
Taking a different approach to education, Curiosity Stream teaches children about the world using full-length documentaries and series. Whether it’s science, nature or history, Curiosity Stream makes learning effortless.
Tynker is an educational programming platform designed to introduce young children to otherwise complex IT concepts in a way that isn’t so intimidating. Substituting complicated source codes for blocks of code, Tynker makes coding accessible to kids of all ages.
Khan Academy has made quite a name for itself in recent years. Free of charge, the resource de-mystifies maths, science and computing whilst offering learning that is well-paced and helps students build their confidence as they learn.
For a much-needed burst of creativity, Creative Bug features a wide array of art & design, sewing, knitting and jewellery classes, allowing your children to pick up new skills and stay busy for hours on end.
National Geographic Kids
Who better to trust with your kids’ learning than National Geographic? Home to countless digestible articles, quizzes, games and competitions, Nat Geo’s website allows children to broaden their intellectual horizons in a way that is fun and interactive. The website also features a number of downloadable resources for you to print out should your WiFi connection get a bit patchy over the next few weeks.
To make learning even more accessible and appealing to your children, you could also check out the following channels on YouTube:
Crash Course Kids
Crash Course Kids is an engaging, kid-friendly collection of 2-4-minute science videos. Breaking down complex scientific concepts into bite-sized, eye-catching content, Crash Course Kids is perfect for getting your kids excited about science.
Free School will introduce your children to famous art, classical music, literature and natural science in a way that is accessible and easy to digest. Whether it’s snakes, the Civil Rights Movement or castles, Free School will have your kids dropping random facts you didn’t know in no time.
The Brain Scoop
Another diverse learning resource, The Brain Scoop presents a wide range of ideas and concepts in a fun, age-appropriate and non-patronising way. However, the channel is best suited to children aged 8+.
National Geographic Kids
You’ll be pleased to know that Nat Geo Kids also has a considerable YouTube presence. Similarly to their website, their channel features a host of videos covering anything from dinosaurs to climate change in the Arctic. As an added bonus, the videos are quite funny.
Kids Learning Tube
Adopting a fun and unique approach to learning, Kids Learning Tube tackles a wide range of subjects, all taught through music and animation. Their fun, bite-sized videos are bound to keep your kids engaged for at least a few hours.
Twinkl is a teacher-created set of resources featuring thorough schemes of work, lesson plans and assessments as well as online educational games and tools to make learning simple and accessible to children and their parents.
Unlike the above-mentioned lists of resources, Twinkl is a more comprehensive and structured resource, more reflective of your children’s school curriculums and regular school work.
To help students (and their parents) whose education has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Twinkl is now offering access to their platform completely free of charge for a month.
To take advantage of Twinkl’s generous offer, go to their website and enter the code you may have already received.
If you’ve not been given a code, Twinkl asks you to enter the following code instead: CVDTWINKLHELPS.
While there’s no denying that your life and routines will be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, social distancing and your children’s subsequent school closures, these changes don’t necessarily have to completely upend your life. There are a number of resources and materials for you to take advantage of, and make sure that the next few months are productive, enjoyable and fulfilling for both you and your child.
And if you’d like to stay on top of your education alongside your child, why not check out our courses and take advantage of the extra time remote work affords you?