A guest blog by Liz Mould, Primary School Teacher
Liz Mould is a teacher and a parent who has been teaching in primary schools for 11 years. We invited Liz to talk to us about the best way to help foster carers manage homeschooling now that the schools have closed their gates.
As both a parent and a teacher, I have had many conversations with worried parents and carers regarding how they will manage homeschooling their children whilst the schools are closed due to coronavirus. I understand that some foster carers may be particularly worried as children in care are particularly sensitive to uncertainty and any changes to their routine. Many children in care have experienced trauma and attachment issues and may be especially vulnerable at this time. Below I have outlined a few key pieces of advice that foster carers may find useful, alongside some websites that are currently offering free educational resources.
Try to establish a routine and some ground rules
At the start of every school year, this is the first thing that I do with my new pupils. This always works best when the children are involved in the rule-making. Most schools have their own unique school rules, expectations and ethos displayed on their website, so this would be a good place to start. I would suggest writing the agreed rules down/making a poster and displaying it in the area where you are going to be working.
Where possible, I would advise having a good routine that mirrors a regular school day - for example, getting up, having breakfast and being dressed and ready to start learning for 9am.
It would also be worth drawing up a timetable of how each day will look. Younger children/ children with SEN (special educational needs) may prefer a visual or pictorial timetable. As a minimum, ideally you will cover some Maths and English learning every day. Children in EYFS and KS1 should cover some daily phonics learning too. The afternoons can be less structured, covering topic work and PE.
Schools should have provided you with a home learning pack which includes a list of topics to cover, but I think it is important for your child to also have some say over the topics they cover too, as this will help keep them engaged in their learning.
Go easy on yourself and get outside as much as possible
Remember, any learning is better than nothing. You won't always be able to stick to the plan, you must respond to your child’s needs, their happiness and well-being at this time is the priority. It is also really important that your child gets regular breaks, exercise, and fresh air throughout the day. Be prepared to be flexible and don’t be too hard on yourself or your child if things “don’t go to plan”.
“Remember, any learning is better than nothing. You won't always be able to stick to the plan, you must respond to your child’s needs, their happiness and well-being at this time is the priority.”
Invite your child to choose the direction of their learning and make it practical
It is proven that children learn best when they are interested in a topic and have some say over the direction that the learning will take. Discuss with your child any topics that they would like to cover. Are they interested in space? Do they love dinosaurs? Are they interested in learning about the Amazon Rainforest or the Great Fire of London? I also think that this extended time at home will provide the perfect opportunity for more hands on and practical learning, depending on your child’s age, this could include:
cooking/baking, gardening, DIY, sewing, photography, creating a video, writing a song, painting and drawing. I’m sure your child will have lots of great suggestions too!
Most schools have online e-learning platforms, such as Google Classroom and Purple Mash, and you may well have login details for these. The e-learning platforms are a great place for teachers to set assigned tasks for your children. Teachers will continue to access these e-platforms throughout the duration of the school closures to assign work and tasks. Teachers can also be contacted via the e-learning platform if you need to ask any questions or need support.
Video Chats with Friends
If you are isolating at home, video chats are a great way to communicate with others. Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts are some examples of platforms that you and your child could use to communicate with others. You could arrange some group chats so that your children can discuss their learning. The children could also take part in a learning quiz/ game/challenge together.
A Reward System
I would recommend having a reward system in place. Young children respond especially well to stickers. So a sticker chart may be a good idea. Depending on the age of your child and their interests, you could both agree to an alternative rewards system, such as collect 10 marbles in a jar for good behaviour/ work and receive a small prize.
Online Learning Resources
https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/covid19-school-closures - providing free resources to everyone during the school closures. Suitable for children aged 3 to 16+
https://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ - providing free resources to everyone during the school closures. Suitable for children in EYFS and KS1.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize - free educational resources for children aged 3 to 16+
https://www.topmarks.co.uk/maths-games - some great interactive maths games for children in KS1 and KS2.
https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga - yoga put to stories, perfect for younger children.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/supermovers - moving and dancing whilst learning key English and Maths facts - suitable for KS1 and KS2.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyCLoPd4VxBvPHOpzoEk5onAEbq40g2-k - Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) is offering daily 5 Minute Move workouts. Suitable for children of all ages.
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
If you have any questions about fostering in Rotherham, book a call back with a member of our experienced team at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.