The Prime Minister has now stated that the public health benefits of keeping schools open has changed and that schools will close indefinitely from Monday 23rd March to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
What does that mean for your child’s education and how can you help?
It is important that you keep up to date with official advice about the virus so that you can clearly explain the advice to your child. Children do worry, although they may not outwardly show that they do, so be aware of the conversations you have with your partner about the virus. Instead discuss how you as a family can minimise the risks of catching the virus when you are at home together or with other family and friends outside the home environment.
Calmly explain to your child that learning is still very important even though he/ she is not at school. If your child picks up on your concern about the fact that there are no Summer written exams for GCSE or A level that will cause more anxiety.
Discuss the fact that learning is a continuous process and what is learnt needs to be revisited so that it stays in your child’s mind. Many schools will follow 5 periods a day with breaks included so you may wish to adopt that method when planning the study sessions for the week. It may be better to concentrate learning periods into 45 minute sessions rather than one hour if your child is in senior school as he/she will probably learn alone and will tend to concentrate more deeply without classroom distractions.
Decide on key lessons each day and how many study sessions you expect your child to follow. Will it be English, Maths and Science each day plus another subject and some physical exercise? Or will your child enjoy undertaking a project one day? It is important to have set routines each day but introduce occasional variety as your child will be at home in familiar surroundings and maybe easily distracted if not engaged in the learning process. Whatever timetable you decide with your child ensure he/ she sticks to it. In addition, limit phone access during study time which would happen at your child’s school too. You may decide to reward a positive week’s learning with some time off on Friday afternoon!
It is extremely likely that your child’s school website will already have excellent online resources and that most of the work your child undertakes can be submitted for marking online. To reinforce your child’s learning ask him/ her to explain answers to you so that the new knowledge is embedded. You may learn new information too which will be good for your child to experience.
As well as online resources such as studywise.co.uk and BBC Bitesize, which will support your child through his/her learning, there are also the excellent CGP books (www.cgpbooks.co.uk) that provide study notes and practice for KS2, KS3, GCSE and A level learners.
It will be a challenge for families to achieve the perfect model for supporting their children at home. There are many pressures on us all at present and having to ensure learning takes place every day is an added worry. As a family be realistic in what you wish to achieve through home learning and stick to it so that your child has continuity in his/her life each day and you maintain the status quo in the household!
Thank you to Lindsey Abbott for this article. Lindsey is a retired Headteacher who worked in state secondary schools for 38 years.
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