I have been a teacher since 1994. I spend time with lots of different children day in and day out and I love it. A class of 30 is no problem. English, PSE, covering classes, taking assemblies, holding meetings, patrolling outside or in corridors…
But my own children at home on ‘lockdown’ is a different proposition. This is different. I am not their teacher. Sure, I teach them lots of things all the time: how to load the dishwasher, how to pack the shopping, how to make a pancake, how to pick your dirty washing off the floor (that hasn’t worked)… but I am not their teacher. And this is the same in houses all over the world at the moment; parents find themselves in a different role and are unsure what is expected of them. Uncertainty and disruption is very stressful.
We are all now cooped up in the house, trying to make sense of what work has been set by school, if we can even find it or figure it out. Trying to get everyone out of bed before it’s technically lunchtime is a challenge in itself. I know some of you have a real dilemma on your hands regarding childcare. There are other current additional financial and work related strains.
So…what do WE need to do to get through this but make sure our children also make it through healthy, well balanced and still learning?
1 Slow down. If they get up a bit later, so what? They don’t have to cram 7 subjects into one day. There will be other distractions and other priorities right now. And it looks like we are going to have lots of time…
2 Set a routine which suits you. If they need to get up earlier for some jobs that’s fine. If they sleep in that’s fine. As long as it suits your household. Please don’t make them wear school uniform! I actually read that this was suggested somewhere. PE kit may come in handy for the 9am Joe Wicks though. Remember to factor in some exercise outdoors while we still can. Breathe in that fresh air. If you have to share online time that is fine. Not everything has to be done on a device/pc/online. If you have to take turns at the table, so be it. Not everyone has a separate desk or office space to turn over to be a ‘school space’. Set times, have a rota, it’s all good.
3 Pick your battles. Does something really need to be done right now/ exactly as you are insisting/at all? Decide on what really matters as this could go on for a long time. Don’t make a rod for your own back by setting up situations where you will lose long term by ruining your relationship.
4 Give an element of choice so that children can maintain some control. They have lots of freedom away from the home when they are at school. Don’t try to control everything they do as this will cause resentment.
5 Be honest. Admit your own feelings. Show them it is ok to be worried and how to deal with that together. Discuss ways to cope. Have a family conference perhaps.
6 Don’t panic. Stop hoarding the toilet roll for a start! We’re going to be ok for loo roll. Don’t panic about covering all the work your child has been sent/ set online. Your child’s teachers will have tried to be helpful by giving them lots of things to do. It can be quite overwhelming depending on what has been set. Don’t be afraid to ask for more (but not this week!) or just to pick out what you can manage.
7 Stay in touch. Hopefully our new Facebook page can help make us feel more connected as a school while we are apart. In less than a week it already has as many followers as we have pupils!
There has been a lot of communication on Teams and SMHW this week and it’s great to see so many people connected. ASN and Gudance staff have been checking in with families they have a lot of contact with as well. The school admin address is monitored daily in term time and Facebook and Twitter DMs will be picked up regularly as well.
Finally, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that our children will remember this time for the rest of their lives. Whether they remember it fondly is pretty much down to us.
What do you want your child to remember about this time at home?
Would you want them to remember a time of fighting and arguing over opening a book or laptop or a time when you spent some quality time, doing things together. Children learn from us how to react as an adult in difficult situations so show them we can stay safe and well; help each other; remain calm and keep learning!
You are not alone.
Here’s a link to a very good article on staying connected through this crisis.
And a couple dealing with talking to children about Coronavirus:
Dr Will Shield (@WillPsyc) @UofESSIS highlights the importance of talking to children about #Coronavirus. He recommends parents read the British Psychological Society advice @BPSOfficial @DECPOfficial which has five key points: https://t.co/VxX8Dmqdzn pic.twitter.com/I0i0sscSyB
— University of Exeter News (@UniofExeterNews) March 24, 2020