The realisation is quickly dawning that most areas of our lives are, and have, changed over the last week. Working from home was the big news for some people last week and they only had a week to bed in a new routine when the announcement that schools were closing took place. Combine the working from home routine with having the kids around at the same time is daunting for most and not practical at best. Being a dad of two girls (Alana- 3, & Matilda- 7) I am having to learn pretty quickly as to the best way to juggle along with my wife who runs her own business.
Flexibility is going to be key alongside an overarching structure and clear communication for all of us to make it work as a family unit. Obviously we are totally winging it like most people it seems but I thought it would be good to share some of the hints and tips that I have found and been advised by teaching friends and family:
Don't overdo the schooling: As parents, we aren't suddenly going to turn into teachers overnight and it is also important to remember that our children certainly also realise that these are strange times. Therefore sitting them down for 6 hours of teaching just isn't going to work. A couple of hours a day (English & Maths) seems to be what most are recommending combined with a particular project of the day (10 facts about the Romans for instance)
Outsource some of the learning: There are some brilliant learning apps out there that can help take the heat off during a conference call including the following The National Literacy Trust, Ted-Ed, BBC Bitesize, Duolingo, Khan Academy, Brain Pop. Another fun way might be to run a zoom session with friends or family to learn at the same time in a virtual classroom.
Set up a workspace: It is important to designate a learning area for the children just as it is to set up your working from home area.
Remember to exercise: Without school and even the walk to school, some children will be doing far less exercise but it is also a great way to break up the day. It is really important to set time aside every day to do some even if it is a walk to the local park (remember the 2-metre rule) a 1-mile family-run or the Joe Wicks PE workout which is taking place at 9 am every weekday here
Reading Time: This works well at school and should be the same at home. If your children are old enough to read then set aside 30 minutes or an hour for them to do it and if they aren't then either read to them or listen to an audiobook.
Film or TV time: Choose some films to tick off the list or start a new tv program. Obviously limit the time but it could be a lifesaver when balancing with work. Newsround is a great one at the moment.
Screen Time: Again giving your children some screen time is not a bad thing in the current climate but obviously put some boundaries in place.
Chores can be fun: There are still chores to be done and building out a family rotor can turn things like making the beds, hoovering, emptying the bins etc a bit more fun and it makes everyone accountable. Team up if you can with parents and children if you have multiple.
Cooking time: Similar to the chores, there are still meals to be made and why not include the kids! These are a great chopping set to get them up to speed here and there are some great recipes to get you started here
Let your work know: Everyone is having to be more flexible currently and it is important to relay your situation to your employers. Keep the communication open.
Workday/week balance: It is easy to currently lose track of the days and forget if it is a weekday or the weekend. It is so important not to blur the lines and end up working all evening or working at the weekend. Similarly, remember that school normally runs from 9am-3pm so don't extend the hours.
Set up friend calls: Why not set up a virtual playtime on facetime or if you want to go broader then download and encourage other families to use something like Zoom
Check your school's website: Most schools have set some tasks on a weekly or daily basis for children to do. They are also giving out some brilliant advice and help.
Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought and remember to keep united do family high fives/hugs. We are all in this together.....Below is our first effort at a daily schedule. I am sure there will be a few more versions being worked on.