A Diary of a Teacher During COVID-19 Home Schooling
Partial and full school closures during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic have been unprecedented and have put huge strains on both parents and teachers. In this blog post, experienced former teacher and mum of three children Heather talks about the challenges and joys of home schooling as a teacher during this difficult time.
A diary of home schooling during COVID-19
I will never forget Wednesday 18th March, it will be forever emblazoned on my memory. It was the day we found out that schools were to close – most only partially – due to COVID-19 for an unforeseeable amount of time. I must admit that the plight of NHS staff and those affected by COVID-19 were not at the forefront of my mind at that moment. All I could think about was, how the heck was I going to work as well as ensure that my three children carry on learning? How was I going to tolerate being in close confines with them and my husband for weeks on end without an end in sight? I must confess that in those moments I gave in to tears and panic – much like many parents across the world I’m sure.
When the reality of the situation had sunk in, I decided to Setting out to achieve something. to make a plan to make me feel more in control. My first thought was to lay out a learning schedule with more academic learning in the morning, and creative time in the afternoon when hopefully I would be able to get some work done myself whilst the children had some down time, followed by a The people you are related to by blood (your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, cousins etc.) or by marriage (husband or wife)…. walk before we had an evening meal. I was determined also that the children would To gain an understanding of new things. some life The ability to do certain things well. that we seem to have never had time to impart – namely:
- how to make a cup of tea
- how to cook a full English breakfast
- how to use basic tools
- how to To join or fasten by stitches made using a needle and thread….
- how to bake
Not too difficult – right?
Home Learning Week 1
I had high hopes for week 1 as it was all still fresh and new. On the Sunday night I didn’t The resting state of the body when you go to bed. well, worrying about the week ahead, I felt under internal Persuading someone to do something. to have a good stab at things, especially bearing in mind I’m a qualified teacher. I was determined to at least TRY teaching the children – even if just for short periods each day. On the plus side, some of the Beneficial or good. things that I felt immediately were:-
- there was no more school run rush
- I didn’t have to buy the Items that make up a mixture, for example foods that make a recipe…. for or make school lunches
- I no longer had to hunt out and iron uniform
- no more evening homework
- no more evening clubs or classes to rush around for
- no more worrying about other children being mean to my children or A piece of equipment used to hold an object still while you work on it…. versa
- I would get a clearer Something imagined or creative to solve a problem or design a product…. of where my children are in terms of their learning
My children are 4, 9 and 11 and this is how I wanted to Something that has been made and put together. It can usually stand on its own…. our day:-
9-9:30 – Joe Wicks
9:30 – 10 – silent reading (whilst I check my work emails and react to anything that’s happened overnight) – and dough disco for my 4 year old via YouTube.
10:30 – 11 – phonics/writing
11-11:30 – outdoor play (work time for us)
11:30 – 12 – maths
12-1 make lunch together and eat it
1-3 – creative time/topic work (again, whilst I’m working again) (lego, non screen indoor play and outdoor play also fine)
3-4 – family walk
4 onwards – kids can watch TV/play whilst we work.
To Reaching an objective. all this I realised I was going to need to look at Another term for ‘the internet’. learning resources that I knew worked well from my teaching days, as well as reading and learning books we already had. A quick look on the Also known as the ‘net’ or ‘web’. The ‘Internet (interconnected network)’ connects different computers together…. made me realise that many learning resources – for example workbooks – were already out of stock, but I did manage to do a large order of craft Items and objects which are needed to complete a task. such as:-
- quick dry clay + tools
- paint sticks
- sewing kits
- huge box of coloured pencils
- A rough first drawing which helps you to plan your work … pads and A fast and light style of drawing which may not be completely accurate… pencils
- plastic letters
- oil pastels
- small canvases
- jumbo paint markers
- A4 card and paper
I also started keeping hold of any cardboard boxes/tubes for junk modelling and potential crafting equipment.
And the online resources (many of which I used when I was teaching) that I thought would be useful – especially when I needed to concentrate on work stuff – and found the following websites very useful and also had free access are:
- phonics play
- Classroom Secrets kids (for maths games)
- Bug Club (access through school so not sure if it’s free)
- Scratch (for coding)
- Kapow Primary topics for our afternoon work.
- Kapow free home learning packs – for To gain ideas from different sources such as the internet, magazines and books…. and ideas.
So far so good!
We started off the week in fine form, settling down to at least a few hours “work” a day, but it soon became clear that anything involving a pen and paper was going to prove quickly challenging- even though Mummy is a qualified teacher. The children really needed help and supervision, and the constant interruption to our working days as parents was causing a lot of Feeling of anxiety and pressure caused by uncomfortable or uncontrollable circumstances, which manifest in the mind and body….. Not the fault of the children at all, but not a long term practical plan. It also really tired them out. Regular breaks and outdoor play became a life-saver, and as the week progressed we noticed the children gravitating more and more towards creative play and crafting. To be honest, although I want to keep the reading and maths going, I’m also discovering a whole new creative side to my children that I had no idea they had! Now that they have the time, and a few more resources at home, they were able to make amazing creations and do A difficult situation that needs to be resolved or overcome. solving at the same time. My daughter, who is 4, managed to make her very own castle with working draw A structure built over something, such as a river or motorway, so people or animals can cross…. using twine and craft sticks – amazing!
All in all we managed well and I was actually dreading the weekend as we had no plans (obviously) aside from going for a walk each day. However in the event, we basically let the kids watch TV all weekend whilst we caught up on work!
Home Learning Week 2
After the seeming success of week 1, I felt the pressure again on Sunday night (especially being a teacher myself) as I realised the children were tiring of the learning ideas I had used up in week 1. Luckily Kapow Primary came to the rescue again, and I got some inspiration and ideas from their home learning pack. The timetable went out of the window but I had three non negotiables:
- each child had to read for at least half an hour a day – the 4 year old reading with her older brothers as well as with us.
- each child had to do SOME maths each day.
- each child had to write something each day
Aside from that, I was prepared to be flexible and focus more on creative learning as it was more engaging, and they were less likely to interrupt us during work calls.
Some of the learning ideas that I thought worked best were:
- listening to stories from authors on YouTube, Facebook and instagram then doing some writing and maths work linked to the story, for example The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
- anything to do with clay and play dough
- coding apps and games such as Scratch the boys could do for hours
- junk modelling using this idea from Kapow Primary.
- baking and making food – this smoothie idea was a particular winner.
- outdoor play was a winner as the children just weren’t used to it – we followed this prehistoric palette idea and the children loved it!
We’re still on week 2, but I will keep updating this blog post as each week progresses.
Home learning take aways
- have your non negotiables and let your children know what they are – stick to them
- follow a timetable if you can, but be prepared to be flexible
- concentrate on your own self Looking after someone. as well – even if it’s just a shower or wearing headphones for a while
- let your children be creative! You’ll see a whole new side to them
- read, read, read, read READ
- take advantage of online learning apps and tools especially during work calls when you need Remaining silent when other people are talking and not interrupting them….
- be prepared to A circuit part that you can open or close to allow electricity to flow through or to stop it flowing through…. your working day around, possible working in the evening when the children are in bed
- invest in some craft and paint equipment from online stores
- ask your children to teach each other things – if that’s feasible
- have realistic Anticipating that something will happen a certain way. of what can be achieved each day
- even qualified teachers like me are struggling teaching their own children
- if you’ve just had enough, put on a movie
On a positive note, we are much closer as a family and have more time for things like cooking proper meals and doing all the things we’ve been putting off for ages like gardening, baking, decorating and more! Let’s see what will happen as the weeks progress.