Learning in Lockdown & Supporting Parenting in a Pandemic

Written by May* a Primary School Deputy Head, who talks about her first-hand experience of educating children during the global lockdown. Useful, practical and realistic guidance from an education professional.  

“don’t beat yourself up! Parents should be proud of themselves for what they are achieving in the most challenging of circumstances. We are all doing what we can.” 

– May*

It is Thursday 30th April at 9.40am. This time 6 weeks ago I was team teaching algebra with my favourite class in the school, year 6! (Yes. I know. Just like parents, teachers are not supposed to have favourites but we all know that’s a lie). Oh how times have changed. I now sit in my ‘office’ in East London with my bowl of blueberries, slither of banana cake, cup of tea and like a boss manage a school. 

I’ve definitely adjusted to my new normal. Waking up an hour later than usual, avoiding the tube and enjoying my breakfast as opposed to inhaling it, whilst walking around the school corridors. Home learning is checked by me on a Friday and google drives are updated in time for Monday when online learning begins. 

Staff briefing meetings via WhatsApp, leadership meetings via Zoom, phone calls to vulnerable and disadvantaged families, liaising with the local authority, managing support staff’s online learning, recording assemblies for YouTube and dealing with my own anxieties around this pandemic. My “todo” list still seems endless BUT I can’t imagine having to get through it all AND having to home school children. 

I have had several conversations with parents about home schooling. 

“Help! Am I teaching properly? What advice can you give me? What about all the learning they have missed? How do I teach them from 9am – 3:30pm?”

  1. Keep to a routine. Children need structure and normality. Keeping to a routine reminds children that they are not on holiday and makes home schooling easier. You don’t have to fill the timetable with every single subject and activity but a clear routine helps. 
  • Let children feel their emotions. During this time, children may feel sad, frustrated, angry or disappointed. It is important to let them feel these feelings. Reassure them that it is normal to feel like this, especially as during this time some children may miss out on events/playdates/birthday parties etc. 
  • Encourage reading every day. Reading anything counts, so whether it is reading to themselves, a parent, sibling or their toys, it’s essential that children continue to read every day.
Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash
  • Regular movement breaks. Movement breaks such as dancing, exercise or playing copying games all provide sensory feedback and help children regulate. If the fast pace movements don’t work then slow it down by doing chair push ups or squeezing hands. Find out what works for your child
  • Remember that learning should be fun: Activities should not just be solely English and maths-based. Making learning fun is vital – so baking, painting and learning life skills (folding clothes, telling the time, cleaning, tying shoelaces) are essential.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

It is important for anyone having to home school children at this time to remember that it is not possible to recreate the learning that would have been done at school from home. If you have to abort the afternoon history lesson and your child gets some bonus digital time, don’t beat yourself up! Parents should be proud of themselves for what they are achieving in the most challenging of circumstances. We are all doing what we can. 

I have been in the teaching profession for over 10 years and I have never been more proud of teacher’s hard work, creativity and dedication. It’s taken me longer than expected to get all this down on paper but my distractions have been amusing. Enjoy a snippet from a childs blog. 

‘I don’t think my mum is coping well, she promised she wouldn’t resort to straitening her hair until she got really bored she must have achieved that quickly as yesterday she emerged from the bathroom with straight hair! I have never seen her with straight hair in my life!’ 

Kids really do say the best things. 

May* was featured on Colour Out Box Podcast, EP 68 Home Schooling, Furlough, Instagram Battles and Repeat, listen to the full episode on all podcast platforms….