Educational Psychologist Susan Taylor speaks about the current lockdown and how to manage learning at home.
Setting up routines
When things are changing around us and there is lots of uncertainty it is really helpful to focus on what we can control. One of those things is the routines we create in our home. We are all adapting to having children at home learning, and in addition we might also be adapting to working at home, caring for siblings, other family members and/or friends. By setting up a new routine at home we can help make life a little more predictable for our children and family. It will also help your own mental health to plan how you might fit everything into the day. Remember the routine might not always go to plan and that’s okay!
It can be helpful to:
- Plan a structure to the day – but be prepared to be flexible with this structure. Ideally you would do this with your child or young person so they feel they have some control over their day too. Some children might work well with a visual timetable, and indeed all classrooms in Aberdeenshire use visuals to help communicate. Here is links to some helpful visual symbols which you could use if this would help your child. Click here for link to Lockdown Routines and here for link to Visual supports.
- Make sure your child knows who is available to help at different times of the day, and when they need to work/play independently. Remember it isn’t a bad thing for children and young people to have to entertain themselves sometimes! Just make sure they are safe and that the time they are left to their own devices is age appropriate.
- Have a place that is suitable to complete school work – ideally free from distractions and additional screens. This can be really difficult, especially if the whole family are trying to access quiet spaces to work! Perhaps they can create a “learning den” in their bedroom? Or take over a small area of the living room? The kitchen table is a favourite!
- Change out of pyjamas to signal the start of learning time (it’s okay to have a pyjama day occasionally too though!)
- Consider going for a walk each morning or do something active to “get your brain” ready and engaged for learning. There are various home PE sessions available – see below for ideas.
- Break tasks down into small achievable goals. This is another example of when structure or timetabling can be helpful. Often people can feel overwhelmed by the size of a task, but if they stop, think and break the task down it seems much more achievable. It can be really helpful to structure the task(s) into First and Then. What do we need to do first? Then what will we do next? Or alternatively some children might like the language of Now and Next.
- Eat a balance diet and stay hydrated – water is good for learning!
- Take breaks away from screens.
Our older students will likely be able to do some planning themselves, click here for a helpful Infograph which you may like to share with them. This Twitter account also has lots of really useful tips for helping manage anxiety, studying at home, screen time and mental health in general.
Learning Activities at Home
While it is important to provide your children with learning opportunities while they are at home, it’s important to not put pressure on yourself to replicate exactly their school learning environment. There are many activities that can be done at home which will provide them with learning opportunities without them having to sit down in a traditional way. These are activities which develop cognitive (thinking) skills for learning, e.g. baking, gardening, outdoor learning, woodland walks, domestic skills. These also involve lots of numeracy and literacy. These activities can be nurturing and good for emotional wellbeing and help to build positive relationships within family groups. Click here to find out more information about developing Cognitive Skills and some activity ideas.
It can be really tricky to balance home-schooling alongside working. Here we have compiled some activities which children may be able to do independently to allow you time to juggle both.
For secondary aged children, BBC Two is airing two hours of programs aimed to support this between 1pm and 3pm daily. In addition, BBC Scotland is running specific content for Scottish students from 10am daily. The schedule can be found here at BBC Scotland
Additional learning resources:
- ‘PE with Joe’ – Body Coach Joe Wicks is sharing a PE class for children to participate in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays every week. This is suitable for all ages. These can be found on his YouTube channel: PE With Joe 2021.
- Orchard Toys, creator of many educational games, have released some free learning activities for downloading at home for younger children. These can be found here by clicking here.
- Khan Academy provide learning resources for children of all ages. This is also a free resource, click here to sign up for this resource.
- The Imagination tree provide learning resources for all ages, but is especially useful for Early Years and Primary aged activity ideas. Many of these are outdoor activities. The website is free but please be aware there are many adverts on it so be careful what you are clicking on! The Imagination Tree – Creative play and learning for kids
Remember, the most important thing is to look after you and your children’s wellbeing through this time. Here is a list of activities which all encompass learning, but hopefully also provide some fun too!
Health and Wellbeing
Your health and wellbeing are of utmost importance just now. It can be really easy to start feeling overwhelmed in the current situation. Usually we turn to our friends, family, favourite hobbies to help us balance our mental health. Please see our page on Your Own Wellbeing.
Family Nurture Resources
We have developed a range of family nurture resources on different topics which are relevant to supporting learning at home. These topics include supporting Thinking Skills, Developing a Growth Mindset and Sleep. Click here to access these resources.
Education Scotland have a list of links and publications which you may find useful. Click here to access this resource.
Parent Club provides lots of support and top tips for supporting learning at home. Click here to access this resource.
Supporting learners with additional needs
Supporting learners with additional needs through home learning will come with additional challenges. Please click on our ASN support information and Learning Activities for advice and guidance as well as accessible resources.