The whole world is currently in uncertain times. Many people are in isolation to help combat the spread of Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus), employers have been forced to request that their staff work from home where possible and schools have closed their doors so parents are having to teach and keep their children occupied during normal school hours.
All this can become very stressful so I asked my wonderful friends (some teachers, some home-educators and some who have young children but also work from home) for tips, advice and activities. I promised to bring it all together into a comprehensive list of resources and here it is!
(Keep reading until the end for some bonus "working from home" top tips and advice to stay sane)
Firstly, one popular suggestion was to make sure your day has structure. Have a regular getting-up time, get washed and dressed as usual and set aside time for learning and play. When the children are in school they don't spend the whole six hours between 9am and 3pm learning so have a look at the expected learning tasks set by the school and incorporate those into your day. Also, ask your child what they want to learn about. They might surprise you!
Get out and about if and when you can. Government advice (at the time of writing) allows you to go out as a family with appropriate social distancing so use this as a discovery or learning period as well as your daily exercise.
There is a blog post from Kids Activities which has the entire list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings. They have provided direct links so all you need to do is click the link and follow the instructions on that website to sign-up. CLICK HERE to find out more.
PhonicsPlay comics are decodable comics featuring familiar characters from PhonicsPlay along with some new friends. They are short, simple, silly comics that can be viewed on screen or printed out. They aim to provide opportunities for children to rehearse the precise knowledge and skills that they learn in school each week. FREE LOGIN is Username = march20 / Password = home
The 30 Day Lego Challenge looks absolutely awesome! It's been prepared especially for children with sensory needs but I can see the whole family getting involved with this one.
My friend and amazing artist, Jennie Maizels, runs a "sketchbook club" both at her studio and as a distance learning experience. I joined in with this a few years ago and loved every minute of it
and I can't draw! You can read a mini-review in my blog post from August 2015. Anyway, Jennie has very kindly offered to send modules to anyone who emails her at firstname.lastname@example.org - you can view the choices here - SKETCHBOOK CLUB ONLINE - and mention that you saw her lovely offer here on the blog or via my Facebook page.
My fellow parent blogger, Jax, who blogs at Liveotherwise : Making It Up As We Go Along, wanted to offer a slightly different perspective as a home-educator. She reminds us that kids are going to be stressed and unnerved by all of this too, and home has to be their safe place. As mentioned before, education doesn't have to take hours or be a battle. If you can, take time to explore an interest they don't have time for at school, play games, do some craft. The world is off centre, take it easy. Please do check out Jax's blog - she has loads of "unschooling" advice and activities on there.
Nik runs Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Centre. If you're puzzled by the Palaeolithic then look no further! They have created a handy free guide for teachers, plus downloadable activities and resources for use in the classroom. CLICK HERE for the teaching resources section of the website and follow the instructions to get to the free downloadables.
Kat comes from a teaching background but, outside of school she is known as The Reading Pixie. She's going to put a bedtime/downtime story up on her Facebook page a few times a week. She's also going to add in some lesson and discussion topics so "like" the page for notifications.
Many celebrities are offering free lessons via their social media channels. At the time of writing these include:
- PE with Joe Wicks : https://nickie.me/PE-With-Joe
- Dance with Dianne Buswelll : https://nickie.me/Dance-With-Dianne
- Music with Myleene Klass : https://nickie.me/Music-With-Myleene
- Maths with Carol Vorderman : https://nickie.me/Maths-With-Carol
- Cookery with Jamie Oliver (and son) : https://nickie.me/Cooking-With-Jamie
- Storytime with David Walliams : https://nickie.me/Storytime-With-David
- Blue Peter with Konnie Huq : https://nickie.me/BluePeter-With-Konnie
It's extremely important to have a good work/home balance and not to let the lines blur. Home is a safe environment for many people; it's where we go to switch off from work and school and to relax with our loved ones. Monika has a HUGE post which really examines how to create a great routine and environment for working and schooling in tandem at home. You can view her blog post HERE.
If you've never had to attempt to work at home with children in the house at the same time you are going to have to find a compromise with regards to working times and/or output expectations. Many of us have the 9-5 hours ingrained and it's difficult to deviate from that but if you can, think about getting up early or having some flexibility about working in the evening but still remember to switch off and wind down.
My fellow radio presenter, Jacci Jones, is a psychotherapist and coach who works from home. She tells me that it's going to be important for us all to do some self care. Something physical (see the aforementioned PE classes) and something for our mental health (mindfulness is great and can keep us grounded in the present rather than ‘what if’s’ about the future) are necessary for balance. She also says that journaling is a great way to get things out of your head and don't forget to connect with others in some ‘online’ chats, such as FaceTime. Finally step away from Google and social media if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
I know this is a popular suggestion but we've done it for our work team - create a dedicated WhatsApp group for your work colleagues for work discussions but make a separate one for general chit-chat. I also discovered that my laptop has a WhatsApp app so I open that to keep my phone free for work calls. You could also use a tablet or iPad in the same way.
And finally, I have some blog posts from over the years that might help with setting up a separate work area in your house. I did a virtual tour of my home office here and also featured it in a communal series called Corners of my Home. There's a blog post which has advice to make working from home less stressful and, finally, one of the most popular blog posts I've ever written - 7 Top Tips For Working From Home.
Once again, I'm incredibly grateful to every single person who responded to my initial call-out for resources. I think I've included everything but you can have a look through the original post here on Facebook. It also includes some suggestions about attending virtual meetings half-naked and pacing yourself if having to reach for the alcohol by the middle of the afternoon. If you have any additional resources or advice please feel free to drop them in the comments here.
This blog post is also available as a pdf or download
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