We’ve been off school in isolation a week longer than most children. I wanted to document how our first week went in case it’s useful for those just starting out.
Preparing to Home School
The first thing I did was Google online resources. Twinkl stood out, because they’re offering free full access at the moment (code UKTWINKLHELPS). They’ve written a post about how to use their site during this time, so it’s worth reading before preparing work.
I contacted a friend who is a qualified teacher and has been homeschooling his children for years. He gave me some great tips, including ensuring you only get them to work in twenty minute chunks. He explained an hour’s lesson at school is designed for thirty children, but one-to-one a child only needs twenty minutes.
Martyn’s a fellow blogger and has posted advice about how to teach your child during this isolation period which I found useful.
In terms of equipment I don’t have a printer so saved TWINKL files on my laptop and he answers on paper. We already have a crafts drawer, plenty of fiction books and educational board games which have been fun between academic work.
I put a lot of pressure on myself during the first few days, which I imagine many parents do. Try not to, as all it did was make me feel irritable and like a failure. I’m not a trained teacher, this is all completely new to me like it is to my child. Some days my son will engage with work better than others.
This is a scary time for everyone, including children, so adding pressure in the form of educating children is tough for all parents. Don’t be hard on yourself. As long as they’re reading and completing handwriting each day that will help for when they return to school.
Isolation isn’t fun, so I’m putting more into his daily education because it stops me thinking about the dreaded C word. Take it slow, and enjoy it. This is a rare time we will get fully with our children. I’m focusing on growing the bond with my son and creating nice memories during a difficult time.
I took my son out of school at lunchtime after recognising our family is within the virus high risk category.
So our first day was a half day. We eased into it, mainly because it was completely unexpected and unplanned.
Our first lesson was a dog walk in the sunshine. During the walk we talked about how things may change for a little while, and played some educational games.
I asked him to do multiplication by recalling specific timetables and did a speed round of random sums.
We observed flowers and bees during our walk which led to a discussion about pollination. We also talked about what could be seen around us. It’s a chalky area so we thought about where chalk comes from.
Once home, he read his reading book to me and then the day was complete!
It was another beautiful sunny day so our first lesson was some physical education in the form of weeding the back garden and harvesting produce.
I avoided my garden this winter so it’s been in a state. Amazingly the purple sprouting broccoli I planted a few months ago is ready to eat.
He loved using a fork to dig out the larger weeds that he believed were too big for mum to do, and I loved seeing his sense of achievement. We talked about growing vegetables and the process from seedling to plant, before he harvested broccoli which we ate that evening.
I then set up some of his favourite online maths and coding programmes (Sumdog, Prodigy and Scratch) onto my laptop and he picked one to do. This gave me time to get on with chores and work I had to complete and took the onus off me for a bit.
After lunch we walked the dog, which seems to be a great thing to do before any sit-down work.
He then completed his daily reading and did some coding before the day was complete.
This was a colder day, so outdoor activities were limited. I noticed I found it harder without the option to be outside, so I’m glad this lockdown didn’t begin at the start of winter!
After completing some reading, he helped to get all of the tins out of the food cupboards so we could work out what food we have. Certain food has been difficult to obtain during isolation so far, so I wanted a list to see what we had to then plan meals.
He read the labels out and then put items in piles before reorganising the cupboard. Some of the foods he had not heard of, or were hard to read, so this was a good informal lesson about language and meaning.
After a break we went out on a dog walk. I had created an idea for a daily photo challenge, to encourage him to think creatively and to teach him how to look at things from different perspectives. So our art lessons have become a daily photography session, and I post his pictures on Instagram and Facebook everyday. We have a little community of other children now participating using the #KidsTakingPhotosChallenge and we would love more!
On this day the theme was to take photographs of things that make you smile. He chose the colour red, because it always makes him smile. He took the camera on the dog walk and came out with some cracking shots.
When we got home I introduced him to writing a mindful journal and you can see how it went on another post. This was because we are going though a scary time being isolated and it’s a way for him to process his feelings about it.
We have started to get into a little routine at this point, but I am still feeling hugely under pressure and like I’m not achieving as much as I ‘should’. Those thoughts are not helpful, so please don’t be like me.
We began by looking at how to structure a handwritten letter, and he then wrote to his dad. It’s hard for him not being able to see his dad- we are isolating, but his dad is still out working and socialising so is seen as a ‘risk’ currently.
Writing to dad worked well as I then sent a photo of the letter to his dad who was able to respond the same day.
He then did some independent living education, by helping me to load and turn on the washing machine before he completed his daily five minute journal.
We had a dog walk in the light rain and then did our second photography project which involved building Lego and photographing it in various angles.
He built a ‘Neo’- don’t ask me what that is. He then played around with zooming in and out, standing up laying down near the structure and even adjusting lighting. I have a feeling he has a natural eye for photography like his Great Uncle which is a lovely surprise.
Apart from dog walking and gardening there’s been no P.E, so today I put on some kids yoga. I found a Minecraft themed one by Cosmic Kids on YouTube to entice my reluctant son.
We did it together and it was actually quite fun. It helped ground me at the start of the day, and we then did some reading.
There was a random conversation about trying to journal this period of time for when he’s older and his children ask about this time in history. He was not really up for it, but we did talk about Anne Frank and her experience. I like to think this covers a history lesson.
Today’s photography was pets, so he spent time taking photos of our dog, before we enjoyed a sunnier walk outside. He then completed his journal and spent some time on his favourite online maths games.
It was an interesting week. Plenty of pressure on myself which I managed to shake off by the end of it, but overall it went better than expected.
I will try to write a briefer catch up of how each week goes, in case some of it inspires other parents. I have managed to find other resources and ideas for the second week, so watch this space.
Please comment below if you have any other ideas as we are always grateful for them!
There was no payment for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.