Covid-19: Home schooling across the New Forest
Useful resources and advice for parents from the British Psychological Society
School's out! Except it's not. Schools in the UK are now closed for an undefined period of time for all but the children of key workers, leaving parents to follow school guidelines and home educate their children - whilst at the same time having to work from home too.
A recipe for disaster? Or precious family time together? Locally we're fortunate to live with the New Forest National Park and the Solent shore within easy reach - do make time to get outside to get fresh air and exercise daily if possible.
We've gathered here some useful information that could help...
Useful to know - resources available for home schooling
- Twinkl.co.uk are offering a free month of home learning resources: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/how-to-utilise-twinkl-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown-a-guide-for-schools
- Premier Education are offering free home learning resources: https://www.premier-education.com/stay-active/
- White Rose Maths may help - there's a Home Learning section specifically for different year groups and a problem on the day. https://whiterosemaths.com/homelearning/?fbclid=IwAR2gWthfu3Gtv5VkDTQoibUYt4H3Q-8cQqPeO058oYWFP_b_quAEFlzqHoU
- Audible.com are offering free streaming of stories for children and teens for as long as schools are closed, including titles across six different languages, that will help children continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening. https://stories.audible.com/start-listen
- Joe Wicks, the Body Coach is doing free PE every day at 9am on Youtube - 30 min workouts for kids, live every day. Great fun! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8o8wMgAT-Y
- Explore museums online. There are various platforms: from interactive, 360-degree videos and full “walk-around” tours with voiceover descriptions to slideshows with zoomable photos of the world’s greatest artworks. And many allow viewers to get closer to the art than they could do in real life. Try the Natural History Museum: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/naturalhistorymuseum/, the British Museum: https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/ and the National Gallery: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/visiting/virtual-tours/google-virtual-tour for example
Closer to home, take the virtual tour of St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=PcS9Xyz4DuW
- Local resident, Daniella Othman, has made a colouring sheet of Lymington to keep children (and adults!) occupied. Click on the link below to download it, it's free and can be sized up to A4 size without losing resolution. https://gumroad.com/l/TwURu
Advice from the British Psychological Society
The British Psychological Society have also asked schools to share some advice with you that is as follows:
- Don’t try to replicate a full school timetable – It won’t be possible to replicate a full school timetable for a variety of reasons. Giving yourself and your children permission to accept this can be a big weight lifted.
- Expect stress – This is an uncertain and unpredictable situation, stress and anxiety are normal.
- Reassure children – Children can sometimes believe they are responsible for things that are clearly beyond their control. Reassure children that it is the adult’s job to make sure things are OK and to keep them safe.
- Help children stay connected to their friends – Friendships are a key resiliency factor for children and young people. Most children see their friends nearly every day of the week and so not being in contact with them for some time might be upsetting. Is it possible for children to talk to their friends on the phone? Perhaps establish a group Skype or WhatsApp call? Perhaps they could write letters to each other.
- Normalise the experience – Normalising the experience is likely to reduce anxiety for many children. Reassure children that lots of adults and other children are in the same situation.
- Have a routine and structure – Having a plan and a predictable routine for the day can be very reassuring. As adults we like to know what is going to happen, and children like this too. A consistent routine lets everyone be secure about the plans for the day. It is often useful to involve children in creating this routine, so that they feel part of the plan, rather than the plan being imposed on them. You could display the routine using a timeline, or maybe pictures and visuals. Encourage children to develop independence by referring to their own routine/plan themselves.
- Don’t worry if the routine isn’t perfect – Remember, this isn’t a normal situation. If you find that planning and sticking to the routine is causing more stress, friction or conflict, then it’s OK to be more ‘free-flow’. Perhaps be guided by the activities that children want to do.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on academic work – Most parents and carers aren’t teachers and so it’s OK not to be doing ‘school work’ for six hours a day. It might be more important to be spending time together, building relationships, enjoying shared activities and reassuring children, as opposed to replicating the school timetable.
- Try to keep work in one place – If children are doing school work or project work at home, try to keep it all in one place so that it doesn’t spread out over the house. This can help to maintain a work/home boundary. We know that people live in different circumstances that might mean this isn’t always possible, so perhaps there might be other ways to ‘signal’ the end of working e.g. putting away the work and then enjoying a favourite song or shared dance!
- Reduce access to rolling news – It is important to keep up to date with new developments and announcements, but it can be hard to switch off from the constant stream of news from media outlets and social media. Reduce the time spent hearing, reading or watching news – at the moment it might be overwhelming for adults and children. Try to protect children from distressing media coverage.
- Supervise children with screens – It is likely that children and young people will be using screens more often over the coming weeks e.g. phones, tablets, gaming consoles and the internet. If this is the case make sure they are supervised. Ensure appropriate content filters are active – the UK Safer Internet Centre offers guidance on setting up parental control. Try to ensure all children have a balanced range of activities each day. Involve children and young people in these discussions so that they feel part of the plan.
- Provide reassurance about exams being cancelled – Young people may now be concerned about the announcement that exams later this year will not be going ahead as planned. They may feel like all their hard work has been for nothing. Reassure young people that the Prime Minister has said that all children and young people will get the qualification they worked towards, but acknowledge that the plan is a bit uncertain right now. Reassure young people that the government and Department for Education are working on a plan.
- Play – Play is fundamental to children’s wellbeing and development – children of all ages! It’s also a great way to reduce stress in adults.
Additional websites for information
A self help guide: https://www.annafreud.org/selfcare/
The mix - a help line for children who can text to talk to people: https://www.themix.org.uk/
Childline has a whole section on calmness and mental health: https://www.childline.org.uk/
Need some help with home learning?: https://www.skillsbuilder.org/homelearning
Autism Wessex – for students who have a diagnosis of ASD: https://www.autismwessex.org.uk
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Find other useful information during the coronavirus crisis here - including community help groups. This includes a printable postcard that you can drop round to neighbours (do knock on their door and say hello too) - remember some of your neighbours may not have access to the internet or social media.
Find details of New Forest businesses carrying out local deliveries here.
Many thanks to Bournemouth School for the information from the British Psychological Society and additional websites for information.