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Advice from a teacher : homeschooling top tips.

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Post written by Lauren, Specialist Leader of Education & current Year 6 Teacher.

In a time when no one has any experience to back up decisions or advice, it is difficult to know where to look, or who to listen to. No one is a professional in dealing with supporting children through a global pandemic, but we all naturally search for somewhere to hang our hats at such an uncertain time. This post is simply my opinions, from my point of view; I’m a Year 6 teacher who is missing all 30 of the little souls I spend most of my time with.

1. Set small challenges. It is important to manage each day what you expect to accomplish, both with the children and generally. Maybe, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed, the expectation is simply too high. Readdress what is necessary, and begin again. Your children will remember how they felt at this time, not how much work they complete. That said, everyone feels secure in a routine, so I would advise some sort of structure. At school, their day is built upon a predictable, repeated set of instructions. The expectations from teachers are identical day in, day out. This ‘training’ is how teachers get the best from the learning. Allowing a child to feel safe and successful every day is our main aim and they can only do that when given the opportunity to feel challenged, however small. Set some challenges, they don’t have to be strictly educational.

2. Just listen. If we were in school during such an unprecedented time, our priority would be to nurture emotionally literate, emotionally resilient and emotionally aware children. At the current time, it’s likely that many different emotions will sneak up on us; the tears over not seeing their friends is a very real, very big, problem for them. Just listen, tell them that you hear how hard it is. Tell them why you’re finding it hard. Maybe then, you could offer an active distraction. Write down all the things you’d like to do and put them in a jar ready for when we can, write a letter and post it to a friend, record a video diary of the one thing you have accomplished each day. Help them to feel that they have managed their emotions. It’s a life skill they will need when they come up against uncertainty or anxiety again. This model of Emotion Coaching is really helpful when encouraging a process of reflection. I use this model with my class and I’ve seen first hand how it helps us to stay focused when we get flooded with big emotions.

3. Ask for help. Many teachers will be feeling desperate to help families struggling at home with their learning. Call upon anyone you know who is a teacher and ask questions. We usually commit so much to supporting children, it is so strange to not hear from them, and you. Remind your children how much their school cares for them. Every decision that is made over the next few months will be made with their best interests at heart. We‘ve not got it all worked out yet but we will find our way through this together. There is no need to provide closure for the school year just yet. Try to simply reassure them that their teacher is missing them, their friends are missing them and that there will be a time when all will return to school and pick up on our academic journey, with a little more perspective on life and what’s important to us!

4. Use this opportunity There will be no better chance to teach your child how to regulate their emotions. Why not support them in creating a tool kit of strategies that they can call upon when they are feeling a little out of sorts. In my classroom, we have a “Strategy Zone” full of varying resources that support everyone to regain control and return to a place where they can learn, play and contribute. How to do this is different for everyone: colouring, reading, exercise, journaling, listening to music, tidying or sorting- there is no right answer but it is good fun to try things out. Maybe choose a time when your child is feeling settled to openly discuss a time when they were not, and work out what helped. Explore ideas together and maybe lead by example and create a toolkit for yourselves too. You could also create a “check in” system for the family, as a way for you to communicate mood and feelings without needing to talk about it directly. For example use numbers 1-10 (1 = I’m feeling terrible, 10 = I’m on top of the world, and all the Numbers in between). Or use colours (Red = I’m angry, Green = I’m excited, Blue = I’m sad). Be open and honest, provide a home where it’s normal to talk about how we feel and have the answer validated and accepted.

Your children’s schools are looking forward to welcoming you back when it is possible and safe to do so. We don’t know yet how and when this will be, and we don’t know how the return to school will look. But what we do know for sure is that school days will return and parents will be able to take a breath! Hang on in there, you’ve got this.

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