This blog post is a guest feature written by Hannah Rix, Co-Founder of Readingmate.
The past 10 months has felt like the worst version of the Hokey Cokey EVER, hasn’t it? I’m not going to remind you of the details, but I’d love to give you a tool kit to help survive this next stint of home-schooling hell (well, try to anyway).
Here are some of my top tips for parents of one child, multiple children, and children with SEND, with a bit of learning and literacy thrown in for good measure:
- Incorporate chores into a daily routine to earn tokens/stickers/merits towards a reward – all you need to do is draw up a chart (even better get your child to do it) with each job and a monetary/reward value – for example, emptying the dishwasher could be 5 tokens. Keep a tally on how much each child has earned in a day and they can ‘spend’ their tokens on a reward – for example, to earn iPad time you need 20 tokens.
- Keep your ‘living space’ and ‘learning space’ separate – it’s so hard to do this with limited space (myself and my husband had to do it in a 1 bed flat with only 3 rooms) but even if it means sectioning off the dinner table as ‘learning space’, it leaves your sofa and as ‘living space’. This will be extremely helpful for you and your children’s mental health when it comes to switching off. Make sure you keep all things associate with ‘learning’ away from your ‘living space’ so the boundaries are clear to you and them.
- Learning buckets or baskets – home learning is resource heavy, especially if you have children at multiple stages. Organising their resources, books and pens into separate bins, wallets, whatever storage container you have available, will stop any confusion or squabbles. It’s also a great way for your child to visualise what learning has to be completed that day. Once the bucket is clear, they’re done! Yay!
- Come up with a family contract – I do this with my new classes at the beginning of every school year. We set ground rules for respect and personal responsibility. Get everyone to sign it and put it on display. Make it clear what the consequences are if anyone breaches their contract. You’ll need this to ensure you can have at least one hot cup of coffee a day!
- Snack sacks – you know the drill, the second your child’s bored, they want something to eat. To subside the constant badgering for snacks, organise their daily snacks into lunch bags or boxes. This way they can see what their ‘daily allowance’ is. If they want to eat them all before 9am, let them! They’ll quickly learn self-discipline and responsibility when that 4pm hunger kicks in and there’s no biscuit to scoff.
- Create your own daily time-table – this is a little trickier if you have children that’re logging onto the dreaded Google classroom every day. But if you’ve got younger children, organising their schedule will give them a sense of control over the day and aware of the routine.
- Invest in whiteboard pens for writing practice on windows – cleaners, don’t come for me! As long as you use a dry erase marker and tape up the edges and ledges of your windows, let your little ones write away! This saves endless pieces of paper ending up in the recycling and also makes writing fun and a little mischievous for your little ones.
- Be honest with your children and their teachers – this is an impossibly hard situation for all parents. Most of you are juggling a full-time job, housework, cooking and home-schooling. Give yourselves a break when it doesn’t go to plan. And tell your kids about how you’re feeling and ask how they’re feeling too. As an SEND teacher, I’m constantly worrying about my parents. Luckily my students are still attending school but it’s still a strain on them. Approach your children’s teacher or school and ask for help if you need it. We’re here to help support you AND your child.
Know that everything you’re doing is phenomenal. You’re all heroes. Fighting a daily battle of will and patience.
Remind yourselves every single day that your children will regard this time as ‘the period when my parents were absolute champions’.
“Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength.”Tom Brady
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