It’s all anyone is talking about at the moment, and it’s beginning to affect day to day life for people across the world- the Coronavirus means that many children are staying home from school, either through mandatory school shut-downs or voluntary social distancing.
If your child’s school isn’t closed yet, it may be in the next few days or weeks and children will become temporarily homeschooled. I have set up this Facebook support group for Homeschooling during Coronavirus, and it is being updated several times a day with new ideas and activities as well as practical tips and advice from 9 years’ experience of homeschooling, so do join!
Having homeschooled since our eldest child was born, I thought it would be helpful to create a post with tips for making the most of this time for both parents and children. Home educating, even for a short time, isn’t what most people expect to do, but it doesn’t need to be stressful or boring. In fact we have always loved homeschooling and I would hope that it can be a great time of learning and connection for families that people wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience.
10 Tips For Homeschooling During Coronavirus
- Create a (flexible) schedule. Children who are used to the structure of school will probably respond better to having a routine, especially if they have been sent work from school to do at home. I would suggest that you do any formal compulsory work in the morning, leaving the rest of the day for more enjoyable activities. However, if you have a self-motivated child who is happy to complete their schoolwork at any time, let them have more say over their routine- they may enjoy having this independence and creating their own study schedule. Having a routine can also help parents get things organised in our heads so we know who is doing what when, and what we need to prepare for each part of the day.
2. If your child hasn’t been sent home with work, or you are looking for other resources to supplement their work, take a look at my UK homeschool resources page. There are numerous websites, apps, groups and play based resources that you can use to create a rich learning experience for your child. Examples of online resources listed in the article include the New York Philarmonic Kids’ Zone, NASA Kids’ Club, History For Kids, Virtual Drumming, Nat Geo Kids and many more! I also recommend some lovely books as well as educational apps.
3. Try to relax and not worry too much about replicating school at home. It is highly unlikely that schools will be off long term and normal life will resume shortly so children are not likely to be disrupted for long. This is an opportunity to explore the different ways that your child can learn, to spark new interests and to spend time together. Check out my post on strewing which is a great boredom busting technique that requires no prep!
4. Encourage as much physical activity as possible. This may be tricky due to limited movement to prevent the spreading of the Coronavirus but there are some great ways for kids to burn off energy at home.
If you have a garden why not get outside and make a bug hotel or daisy chains, search for dandelion leaves and nettles in the garden and try some wild foraging (Google recipes for dandelion salad and nettle tea, the kids will find it fascinating!), create an ant or worm habitat, make a bird feeder (roll a toilet roll tube in peanut butter and seeds/breadcrumbs and hang from a treat- super easy!) or simply have a picnic.
You could also try treasure hunts outside (hide some chocolate!), relay races, mini Olympics (set up an obstacle course), ball skills and scavenger hunts (‘can you see something starting with each letter of the alphabet?’).
If you don’t have a garden try a mini workout at home using Youtube videos- The Body Coach has some quick kids’ workouts and Cosmic Kids Yoga has some creative and engaging yoga videos for children. You could also try a mini indoor trampoline or invest in an indoor swing, rings and ladder for extra fun!
5. Cook together. I love it when I can turn something that needs to be done anyway (laundry, cooking, cleaning etc) into an educational and enjoyable activity. Why not let your kids choose a meal to make for the whole family, set the table and serve?
This is a brilliant confidence booster as well as a great opportunity for learning new skills (including maths with measuring/ portioning!) If your child is older and understands more about the implications of Coronavirus (and isn’t anxious about it) they may find it interesting to try baking a cake ‘Depression Era style’ (Google recipes!) and try and minimise the ingredients they use.
6. Try some mindfulness activities. Something that I love to do is give children a handful of rice and ask them to lay them all in a line- as they place each one down, they say something that they are thankful for. This can be especially good for anxious children as it focuses on the positives in their life.
There are also lots of mindfulness colouring sheets available for free online (Twinkl has several).
Another mindfulness activity children often enjoy is to lie in silence for 30 seconds and listen to every sound they can hear that they wouldn’t usually. After 30 seconds ask them what they heard (it’s usually things like birds, the radiator gurgling, their own stomach, maybe even their heartbeat!)
For some more quiet mindfulness for younger children give your child a cup of rice and a bowl, and see if they can pour it all into the bowl without making a noise.
Lay outside and ask your children to see how many shapes they can spot in the clouds.
7. Take the opportunity to have one on one time with your children- this goes a long way to helping children stay happy and peaceful. Even if you can’t go out, try cooking or doing a craft specifically with one of your children and ask the others to get on with something while they wait for their one on one time with you.
If you have partners working from home at the moment ask them to spend time with your other children to make your special time uninterrupted. I’ve got a post on engaging dads with homeschooling that may also be useful during the current climate.
8. Use Skype, Zoom and FaceTime for digital playdates with friends and family. Kids will love figuring out how to play games together long-distance!
9. Think of simple, easy treats to liven up your days and make your child feel special. This can be as easy as laying the table nicely for ‘afternoon tea’ (make cute sandwiches with cookie cutters, serve with fairy cakes or cookies and serve their juice or favourite drink from a teapot!), grabbing duvets and popcorn for a movie night, or make a blanket fort and bring teddies for a teddy bear’s picnic.
10. Let your child play as much as you can. Let them guide their own games and activities, do physical play (rough-housing), role play, imaginative and creative play. Let them play for ages in the bath, or in the garden, or wherever- just try to let them be as much as they are happy to! Giving children autonomy over their time is the best gift we can give them, and playing has been shown again and again to be the best way for children to learn and develop.
I hope that this article is helpful when it comes to homeschooling during the Coronavirus outbreak. Staying home with your children is a very helpful way to prevent the virus spreading and I have the utmost respect for all the school parents who are temporarily homeschooling! Don’t forget to join the Homeschooling during Coronavirus support group for regular updates, resources, tips and advice.
Please share this post as much as you can to help all the parents in the current climate.