Updated: May 12, 2020
I thought it was time to post in relation to the current situation that many of us find ourselves in. With the Coronavirus circulating, and forcing closures, UK schools are shut for the majority. There is a similar picture developing around the rest of the world. And, this series of completely rubbish events has led to children being taught at home by parents who are unsure about how to tackle the challenges that come with it. First off, let me say that being stuck at home, setting work for my group via the internet, is the last place I want to be. I can't say I've spoken to a single teacher who was excited by the prospect of 'extra-holiday'. We're a bunch who, generally, love working with children and taking care of them. That's far easier face to face! In addition to this, I won't be expecting the parents of my class to be picking up where I left off. Let me explain... I've seen bucket loads of posts on Facebook this week, and had discussions with multiple friends, about how schools have excessive expectations and have thrown endless piles of work at them. Let's get one thing straight; I couldn't walk into your job (unless you teach...) and perform miracles with less than a week's notice, and I would never expect you to walk into mine and do the same. The general consensus that I'm getting, from a range of teaching professionals, is that they hope parents will just help their children maintain some form of routine and keep the learning ticking over. For me that means a couple of hours a day brushing up on maths, English and all the other things we ram into our congested weekly schedules. No one is frowning at anyone who has failed to construct a six hour home school timetable, complete with full curriculum coverage (don't forget your marking, feedback and assessment folks!) However, even a few hours, in amongst busy adult home-working, could be a push for some; this is where the concept of student-led learning can help. Given the opportunity to lead, you may be amazed by how well a child can cope and thrive. You may think yours is too young to ever consider this, but let's look at how things work at school. Early years (EYFS) is regularly based around a discovery approach. Children often roam free within their learning spaces; experimenting, creating and challenging concepts. The learning is facilitated rather than forced. It's only as they get older that ever-increasing structure is imposed - a structure which prompted me to look carefully at how I could reinstate the independence, and get-up and go, found in almost every EYFS learner that has often become completely diluted by the time they reach Key Stage 2. In a nut shell - kids love being in charge. Mix that overarching concept with something fun and educational and you are on to a winner! So, on that note, let me suggest just a handful of activities which may help you pass some time productively. All of the following will involve little input and minimal interaction but will almost certainly result in some learning having taken place!
1) Joe Wicks Workouts - Every Morning at 9am. Simply visit Youtube and search for his name or 'The Body Coach'. If you don't already know, he hosts a daily workout that children around the world are LOVING. 30 minutes, as Gordon Ramsay would say, DONE!
2) Morning Challenge - If your child is in KS2, visit www.morningchallenge.co.uk (part of this site) and choose today's date. You will be presented with a range of English, maths and geography tasks, alongside some more on top. Most Learners between 7 and 11 should be able to work on these alone, particularly when working independently on computers with google to help them research unknown answers! 3) SOLE lessons - you can read all about this concept in more detail here, but in simple terms they involve setting a research subject and letting your learners crack on. An example would be to choose a single word from a current topic being studied. During the past year, my year 5s worked on space, so before they entered one morning, I posted the word 'Vostok1' on the board. Their only instruction - find out what it is and produce a report/presentation on it (for those who don't know, it was a soviet space craft) The class managed to drown me in information within 30 minutes. I had done pretty much nothing during that time other than ensuring that computers were being shared fairly!
4) Palm Art - I set this task for my group over their first week alone at home. Visit the following link: Youtube Palm Art, watch the video and then produce some of your own. No hand holding required here, just some pens and paper! The same concept could be used for a variety of arts and crafts. Set it up and let them go!
5) 3D Google Animals - I came across this recently and thought it was brilliant! If you have a mobile or iPad, type in the name of an animal into google (There is a list of some that work here) and then click 'View in 3D'. It should then appear, in life-size, in your room!
This could work as a part of a totally hands on research project. Just imagine having a tiger staring you in the face and then writing about how it looks and behaves. Great fun for children and hugely educational!
6) Times Table Rock Stars - Visit by clicking here. Free for all during school closures. This has proved to be massively popular with my group and adds competition to learning times tables. Log them in and leave them to it!
7) Alphabet on a plate - I spotted this, this morning, on a friends Facebook page. No credit, but a fab idea whoever came up with it! Set your child the challenge of filling a plate with an object beginning with every single letter of the alphabet! (They have to fit on the plate, so no sofas or beds thank you very much!)
Get those brain cogs turning by encouraging them to think outside the box. This shouldn't need any support, unless they start pulling out your makeup, and certainly had my group of year 5s entertained for a morning.
8) Cardboard Knight - On the twitter feed of @DarrellWakelam, a freelance artist who, in his own words, 'makes a living from sticking bits of paper and cardboard together', I spotted a fantastic 'do-it-yourself' art project involving an egg box and some toilet rolls (a classic school project if I ever did see one). Simply follow the steps in the image to produce your own. This one should keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours at least and the results look brilliant! Follow his twitter handle for more ideas!
Finally, a cheeky post I spotted on Twitter. Why not turn chores into a money making scheme with the use of some monopoly money and a tuck shop!
Those are just a few examples of student-led activities to get you started. You'll be given a thousand and one more resources that are free to access during this time too - by schools, colleagues and friends. But, if you don't have time to play teacher, don't feel disheartened and, remember, your kids are far more capable than perhaps you give them credit for!
If you try anything, why not let me know how it went in the comments section. Or, if you have any of your own student-led home working ideas, please get in-touch. I would love to hear about them!
Stay safe everyone.