Today has been a strange day, it was a day where, without any real preparation almost every child in the country has transitioned from school to home learning. How many of us can say that we as adults were ready for this, let alone the children. What are we doing to get them ready for the huge change in the way they will be expected to work, live, play, eat and ensure we all stay sane! There lies the challenge, staying sane!
My job allows me the privilege of talking to and working with children from year 6 to 7 who are in this difficult phase, so I have a lot of research to fall back on while writing this post. This week all of our children are trying to cope with the change, while we, the adults around them try to do so too. I have spent some time putting together some ideas, Do’s and Don’ts for people to think about when faced with some of the tough challenges that will inevitably come our way.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to children now going through this transitional period. At every other point in their educational career we have time to prepare them, we are able to do so because we know exactly what is coming for them, we know what will be different, we know how to support them through it and even then, in reality we sometimes get it wrong! This is very different! This is uncharted waters and we are all learning as we go. For me, this has been a bumpy and emotional road so far, I know it will possibly get worse before it gets better but my life experience and age (shhhh don’t mention that again!) has taught me to know that it will get better and I don’t need to make every change on day one. Unfortunately our children do not have that experience yet, so maybe the first thing we need to do when we embark on so much home learning is to help them see the bigger picture. To teach them that change is OK, it’s scary but it’s OK and we should all slow down a little bit – think marathon not sprint!
If I have learned one thing working with so many young people it is that change does not happen overnight. If we expect our young people (of any age) to be OK with, and cope perfectly well with everything we are asking of them, then I am sorry but the reality is that at some point we will be disappointed. It doesn’t matter how many times we remind the children of the new rules, they will forget them at some point. All of these new rules need to be learned, that takes time. A huge issue for our children is also the lack of understanding about what is going on. We have experience to fall back on to help us contextualise the world now, we can see the importance of being at home, we understand the tragic consequences of not doing so. Our children might not have that. From KS1 children who have no experience of death or illness to put things into context to teenagers who seem programmed to not see beyond their own keyboard, we need to find the best way to help them see, but also for us to understand that it might not sink in for a long time! Whatever happens stay calm, self preservation for the older children might be to ‘not care’! Flight mode well and truly kicking in. As parents you see this less, but as a teacher of secondary age children for many years I can tell you, they do care, but it’s not cool to show anyone that! I know staying calm when faced with reactions like this is easier said than done but please remember you are doing a good job, they are normal teenagers!
There are some truly fantastic resources out there to support the learning opportunities while the children are at home. There are as many great ideas to help with the delivery of that home learning and how to plan or timetable your day. My plea to you as parents – that is your job! You are parents, not teachers. We have trained for years to do this job and many of us have got many years of experience under our belt, but we are struggling! We are finding this a challenge! I speak here, actually, as an ex teacher now but with 2 teenagers at home! If all of the adults in the children’s life are finding this tough, then of course they are going to too! Don’t expect everything to go perfectly well form day one, at the same time don’t get carried away if day one goes fantastically well! This is all still a novelty for some! It could all change and that is also OK.
Life is now a balancing act. Parenting/Teaching/Working all while staying sane and keeping a family unit together. I hope these Do’s and Don’ts help a little bit.
|Set a simple routine but take your time with the changes.||Expect your child to accept/adapt these changes immediately|
|Try to teach your child – there are lots of life skills that can now be embedded in our children.||Try to be a subject teacher! There are plenty of life lessons that parents can teach.|
|Spend time together as a family||Push for more than usual, you can take your time to give the children the chance to adapt!|
|Expect tantrums!||Let those tantrums get you down! Take a breath. These are scary times for everyone, even adults a struggling but we have the maturity to deal with them.|
|Spend time apart! It is important you find, even a small space, for your own thoughts.||Worry if others need to do the same. Personal space is important.|
|Create a set of ground rules. How you can/can’t speak to each other. The need for MUTUAL respect (in appropriate age speak!)||Expect these rules to be followed 100% straight away. It takes us all time to get used to new things.|
|See the positives – what a fantastic opportunity to instil real family values into our children in a way we didn’t have the opportunity to do before.||Focus on what we can’t do. There are ways we can help others in new and unusual ways!|
|Remember every child will probably respond differently to this situation||Expect every child in the same age bracket to respond the same.|
|Focus on you and your family, your timetables, your way of working needs to suit the people in your house.||Compare how your family are responding to anyone else’s. We are all different and have different needs.|