Dear School Family,
Lots of people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by everything that's happening. This includes the work being sent home for your child. We wanted to just give our perspective on it all and we hope this can help with that somewhat.
A few points to note first:
1) This is not home-schooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting on the whole world. Let's keep perspective. Home-schooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child's school teacher in whatever form you choose. This is, at best, distance learning. In reality, it's everyone trying to do their best, because none of us know what's right and wrong here. Teachers will guide you on what could be covered; they already know what they planned to teach this summer. Anything that isn't grasped by our children can be picked up when we get back.
2) You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator. If you decide that your child isn't going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, then that is your choice. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.
3) Schools are learning, too. We had no notice, no preparation time and we were not told to 'continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home' – that’s not possible. If it were, we'd all be out of a job!
4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you're trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Please do what you need to do.
So, a few FAQs:
- My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!
Do what you can. Every child works at a different pace: some children are hungry to be kept busy; others need more thinking time. What interests one; bores another. Please just do your best and remember teachers are available via email, and you can phone the school if necessary.
- My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop? Ahhhhhh!
See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried they're not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don't if they don't suit. Google Classroom (or Tapestry activities for our youngest children) is the most important focus - everything else is a suggestion. In the older classes, teachers have set a deadline to aim for and to help get them ready for secondary school. Again, no-one is going to be in trouble if deadlines are not met. Please just do your best and keep in touch.
- Someone in my child's class has everything done and we've barely started. Will they fall behind?
Even if everything were equal in terms of support, time and number of children (which it’s not) all children learn at different rates. In the class there's a wide range of levels in all subjects, there are different paces and there are many children working on differentiated levels of work. It's almost impossible for teachers to differentiate at the moment, so you don’t have to do it either.
Your child will not fall behind. If children could all learn new concepts without specific teaching, we wouldn't need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.
- I'm not doing any work with my kids. All they're doing is building Lego, cooking and playing outside.
All of this is learning -very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.
- How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?
You can't, stop trying. If they're old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise, try to do something they can all engage with. This may be the learning or reading a story together, some freewriting, baking etc.
- So what's the bare minimum you'd expect?
We expect that you give it a try and keep in contact with us. As long as we are all communicating, it's fine. We understand the worries and the pressures - please just do your best and don't worry.
The ideal for the children in our school?
- A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)
- Some free writing now and then. If they'll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?
- Practical hands-on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games, physical or digital. Accessing Times Table Rockstars, Numbots, Hit the button etc to aid fluency in number bonds
- Some fine motor work. This is about using their hands - it builds dexterity and hand/eye co-ordination which supports handwriting, drawing, typing etc. You can develop this through Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys, planting - anything where the hands are used.
- Physical exercise every day.
- Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn't need to be guided.
-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.
- If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.
- Take time to be quiet, reflect, pray.
You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don't let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.
With love, The Keyham Barton Team.