Celia Dean, Clinical Psychologist at Kids Matter, offers some ideas on how to make home learning not only bearable but fun, too…
Health crisis to education crisis? With so much worry about our health right now it feels hard to imagine thinking about our children being off school for an indeterminate amount of time and then trying to educate at home!
Take a moment to get some perspective…. This isn’t an education crisis, just a blip in their schooling, and all kids are in the same position. Teachers are working so hard to do the best for all children and in time all will become clearer on when they will be back in school. In the mean-time their teachers will be giving them things to work on, if we can encourage them to do this in a positive way, we will be showing them the value of learning.
Our kids will be picking up on our stress, our concern for the family’s health and safety, hearing and seeing the panic buying in the supermarkets and this will all be absorbed by our children. This is all natural and understandable. Stress and learning don’t sit happily together, in other words we can’t learn if we’re stressed, distracted or preoccupied. And we can’t teach if we are stressed, distracted or preoccupied!
• Find ways to stay calm ourselves: if we can show our kids how we manage our anxieties we are modelling to them how to manage their own worries in the future. These really are good lessons in life. Try and find a good mindfulness or calm breathing app, or do some mindfulness colouring with the children, listen to relaxing music, get some fresh air or take daily exercise (even if it’s in the house), try and get some good sleep, limit social media scrolling and the constant news feed and think about how to help other people in need.
• Understand our kid’s emotional worlds: Try and reassure our children that we are doing everything possible to stay healthy and well. If this means self-isolating and/or social distancing from others remember, then they’ll understand the restrictions which will make it easier to cope with. However, expect meltdown and tantrums from our children as they adjust to the changes. Helping them to express their feelings shows we understand, which in turn will help them feel close to us and loved during this uncertain time.
• Have a simple timetable for the day: This gives children some reassurance and security and helps them know when it’s time to do some school work and when it’s time to have play time and fun. Try and keep it upbeat and positive.
•Remember to take the Easter holidays as time off school work. Children need time to rest and unwind and just have fun.
•Find new ways to connect and have fun together: Use this precious time to slow down, get to know our kids even more, notice their strengths, their interests and the things they are curious about. We can try some new activities together with them (like exercising together inside, playing a new board/card game, cooking together, reading a book under a snuggly blanket together, building a den with cushions, dressing up, indoor disco). You never know, you might all end up having fun together in ways you had least expected!
At the end of the day providing a loving, safe and consistent home environment will go a very long way in terms of how they understand this whole COVID-19 experience. Our children’s experience of living through this pandemic will stay with them long after this crisis is finished.
If you’d like to find out more about Kids Matter or would like to get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at email@example.com. And for more on our IMPACT, click here.