The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the education sector and the teaching profession has had to adapt quickly, working harder than ever to find new and innovative ways to enable virtual learning during these extraordinary times.
The commitment and dedication of teachers across the UK has been phenomenal. However, the demands on parents have also been immense, with many juggling full-time jobs alongside supporting their children while home schooling. We asked the inspirational teachers at Diamond Wood Community Academy in Ravensthorpe in West Yorkshire to provide their Top Tips for parents and carers, many of whom may be feeling overwhelmed at the moment and struggling to cope.
Mrs Price, Assistant Head Teacher
Mrs Price is the Assistant Head Teacher at Diamond Wood Community Academy. Her first tip is try not to put pressure on yourself as this situation is new to everyone. She says that it is important not to compare oneself to other parents and families. She appreciates that parents are doing the best they can and that is good enough. Mrs Price adds that keeping in touch with your child’s school is fundamental as the teachers are always there for you to answer any queries or give you advice.
Mrs Price recommends trying to keep a routine as the reason that school works so well is because children do the same things in the same order every day, making them feel safe and secure. The routine doesn’t have to be the same as at school, however – do what works for you and your family in your own home environment.
Mrs Price’s final piece of advice is try not to focus on what you didn’t do but what you did do. Write a list of the things you have achieved each day, even the smallest and simplest of things. When you look back you will see that you have achieved a lot, having to facilitate this extra learning, often while also working from home yourself.
“Use this time to have fun and make memories. That’s what’s going to be the most important at the end of the day.”
Mrs Coope, Year 2 Teacher
Mrs Coope, a Year 2 Teacher, agrees that a routine is key. Children need to know what they are doing and when they are doing it, and she suggests creating a visual timetable.
Mrs Coope’s second piece of advice is that it is not necessary to have a computer at home as there are other ways of accessing online learning – use a phone and collect the home learning packs from the school. If parents are struggling with any aspect of home learning then they should get in touch with the teacher, who will try to do everything they can to support you and your child.
Mrs Coope stresses that it is extremely important not to pressurise your child. If they are not feeling like doing the work at a specific time, try again later.
“Have fun at home. Bake, play in the garden, teach them a life skill, teach them how to wash the car. Just have fun with your children.”
Mrs Robinson, Reception Teacher
Reception Teacher Mrs Robinson’s top tip is to keep active. It is important for one’s mental health to do some sort of exercise every day, even if it’s just 5 minutes each morning.
For those parents feeling stressed with several children at home, Mrs Robinson reassures them that their children won’t fall behind and that as soon as they are back in school they will get straight back into learning and so it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself.
“Just do as much as you can do. Don’t worry, we will get through it.” Watch the video here.
Mrs Lyons, Nursery Teacher
Mrs Lyons’ top tip to parents of children from Nursery and Reception is to talk to your children, telling them what you expect from them and what they will be doing during the day so there are no surprises. She also says it is important to talk to the teachers and the school. Just because a child isn’t going into school doesn’t mean the teachers aren’t there for you, to give you advice.
Children in Nursery and Reception need to be having lots of fun so it is important to incorporate learning while playing – counting, recognising colours etc – they will be able to do this with everything you have at home, so you don’t need anything extra. Just have fun with your children.
Mrs Lyons’ final tip is to ‘get outside’.
“All the learning that can happen just from walking – looking at numbers on number plates, numbers on doors, looking at the car colours, counting cars, looking at all the nature.”
Mrs Booth, Year 1 Teacher
Mrs Tombling, Nursery Teacher
Mrs Tombling, a Nursery Teacher, reassures parents that everybody is in the same boat at the moment so you just have to do what is right for your family.
For Nursery age children, Mrs Tombling recommends singing and reading together, and above all, playing together. There is no need for expensive toys. Let the children explore. Make a stick man with a small stick and take them on a journey.
“Try and go outside. You can go out for exercise. You can have a walk together. If it’s raining get your wellies on. If it’s sunny get your sunhat on.”