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Getting to grips with home learning

Posted Mon 23rd Mar 2020 at 17:42
by Lucy Toghill

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Hello to you all, I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.  As a qualified teacher, Tourettes Action’s Education manager, and a mum of a 14 year old boy with TS; I wanted to reach out and acknowledge both the challenges and the gifts that we’re being presented with in these extraordinary and unprecedented times.

Understandably it is a very tricky time for parents right now, we know that having our children at home in a confined space is a much different experience to the one most parents will be facing.  To help support you as much as possible we have increased our helpdesk hours during the week, so that you can call, email or make contact online with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Lots of schools will be sending resources home, plus there are many reputable websites offering ideas and resources to support home learning.  Rather than overwhelm you with more suggestions, I’m writing this blog to reassure you that you are not alone.. From my own personal experience of the past couple of weeks, as both teacher and mum, I can honestly say so far it’s been hard work! Yet there have also been moments when I’ve been grateful for the opportunity for the whole family to slow down.

My advice right now would be to not look on social media too much, and to not feel those pressures of trying to keep up with what other people are doing with their kids. All children learn differently and all parents are going to have to find their own way round providing their children with some sort of education over the next few months.

For those of you that have a mix of both primary and secondary age children at home, as do I, this can be complex. The secondary children will generally be given work from school as there will be certain topics they need to cover on the build up to their GCSE years. For the primary children it can be a lot more flexible.

Here are my top 10 tips to get through it!!!

  • Learning - This only needs to be a couple of hours a day. Don’t expect them to spend 6 – 8 hours a day at home learning as they would at school.
  • Timing - Short snippets of work can often be more productive than expecting a child to sit for an hour to complete a task. Movement breaks are important to help focus the brain. The ‘little and often’ approach usually creates better results.
  • Routine and structure - Some of our children will need this to give them something to focus on. Environmental factors play a big part for our children and some may feel very uneasy and even angry with having to do school work at home. Talk to them about what they want to work on, let them be part of the planning and find something that works for the whole family.
  • Reading - This is a great tool but if like my child, your child has a very short concentration span and doesn’t get anything out of sitting quietly to read, then try reading to them or just chatting and making up your own funny stories. It’s great to explore their creative minds.
  • Exercise/outside time - Make time for play. We all know getting outside as much as we can is what our children need but being confined to home can make this very tricky. If you are lucky enough to have garden then maybe get them interested in some gardening, give them an area they can make a mess of and dig. This is much easier for the primary child and there are lots of resources out there for painting, caulking and being creative outside etc. However, I do understand that getting teenagers to engage in this can be rather tricky.
  • Sleep – Allow your children lots of sleep. Don’t wake them with expectations of starting each day with work at 9am but do keep to some week day routine of getting to bed at a reasonable time as we all know late nights always come with the consequence of grumpy emotional children.
  • Choosing time - Allow them some free time. They need time to chill as will us parents!
  • Chore time - Get the children involved in some small chores. I am sure many of you do this already. There will be a lot of clearing up to do with the whole household being at home.
  • Cook together - A lot of home learning is done in the kitchen with maths and science.
  • Laugh - Laughter is the best medicine! This is a great strategy for relaxing the body, boosting the immune system, releasing endorphins, increasing the blood flow and oxygen, lightens anger and apparently burns calories too!!!

This is going to be a stressful time for us all so try not to add more pressure by stressing about school. Our children will learn so much from this experience with having to be patient, resourceful, resilient, creative etc. Arguing with our kids to get them to do work is not what any of us need right now. Spend time with them, read, do a puzzle, watch T.V together, build lego together, paint, bake….whatever sparks their interest. Don’t stress about them forgetting or getting things down on paper. Kids won’t learn much if they are feeling stressed. This is an uncertain time for us all, so let’s try and focus on how we can – where possible - make this a positive experience. It may not feel like it now but I hope we can all look back on this time and remember the importance of community, friendship, family; and our incredible resilience and resourcefulness during times of adversity.

Lastly and most importantly, look after your mental health. Try to think positively.  Don’t give yourself a hard time, and just do what you can.

If you are struggling with anything specific regarding home learning, then please get in touch. I will be working part time from home (to work around home schooling my own children), but I’ll always make time to help you where I can.

I will be doing a monthly blog going forward so please do email me with suggested topics you would like covered. I have had lots of calls recently about appropriate discipline  for children with Tourettes, from both parents and teachers, so that may be one for next month but I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Take care,

Lucy

 


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