Coping with lockdown
As teachers, it's great to know that what we are doing is helpful. We thought we'd share this story, from a parent at Pangbourne Primary School, to encourage you and remind you that putting your family first, whatever that looks like, is the best thing you can do. There might be some practical ideas you can take from this too.
If you have any positive stories that you'd like to share, I'm sure many other parents would benefit from hearing that we are all going through the same challenges.
We have been struggling through the last few weeks and on many occasions have felt entirely overwhelmed, frantically anxious, fearful and inadequate to ensure our children receive some form of continued education under these unimaginable conditions.
We have four children, three are primary school age and the youngest is a very active toddler. We are a two parent family and thankfully both of us have been able to keep our full time jobs and have moved to home working. We are, of course, thankful that we have been able to keep our jobs, particularly as we both know many people who have not been so fortunate. It is however, extremely difficult to manage a work from home job at the same time as caring for children.
Our children’s education is always a priority for us, however at this time, we are aware that it is not the only thing we need to consider. We have had to carefully prioritise our activities and be decisive. We acknowledge that we can’t achieve everything we would want to and so we decided that, for the children, we would put their physical and psychological health first in all of our decisions. We have also had to prioritise our own jobs in order to ensure we can continue to keep them - we see that as an essential part of ensuring that the children feel safe and secure. We also prioritised providing love and comfort for the children. This has meant that, at times, we have had to participate in video calls with a toddler on our lap who needed a cuddle and at other times we had to share our excel analysis with an eleven year old.
We have been very grateful for the support provided by school to help us ensure continuity for the children’s education. We feel that the resources provided have been extremely comprehensive and clear. In our situation however it is not possible to replicate a normal school day and so we have had to get creative with how we use the school resources and other resources so that the children can access education more independently.
We have found this all quite overwhelming at times however we seem to have turned a corner on this. We have accepted that we can’t do everything and so we use a pick n mix approach. We pick a couple of key things that we can teach the children and we use resources such as BBC Bitesize, The National Academy, YouTube and Facebook feeds where the children can watch uploaded videos and access written content themselves. They have enjoyed virtual zoo tours, drawing lessons, dance, football and even sign language lessons all independently while we both carried on with our own work.
A typical day:
We start the day with exercise where possible. Sometimes we manage an online PE class with Joe Wicks but mostly this is a massive game of IT, or just a run around the garden. We will then set up some maths and English learning using the school website resources. We will teach what is needed for maybe an hour and then set the children to complete the activities. We will take this opportunity to get on with the work we need to do and spend some time with the little one.
We usually set up a you tube or Facebook video upload for the children to watch before lunch. The Ed Vere learn to draw channel is our favourite but there are tons of cool things to choose from.
After lunch my eleven year old son will sit down with the laptop and work through the National Academy lessons for the day. This usually incorporates three lessons including a video lecture combined with activities and always ends with a knowledge quiz. He has so far covered maths, English, Spanish, History and Geography. He really enjoys working independently and being given the freedom to complete his work using the laptop.
My 8 year old girls will use the BBC Bitesize site to learn about topic, RE or science. They use a tablet to access this and we are trying to ensure that they cover the topics suggested in the school plan for example Vikings, Judaism and animals habitats. I like this website as the sections are short but still informative and the girls seem to find them quite entertaining. I pick a couple of questions or activities from the school plan and ask the girls to complete those to ensure they concentrate.
This process works well for us as it gives us another opportunity to complete our own work and spend some time with our toddler.
The school day normally finishes about 3:30 at which point we get everybody out for a long walk. We take turns at this to give each other a n opportunity to work in peace. We use bikes and scooters and we manage a good couple of hours walking on a fine day. We sometimes take our bug investigation kit but most of the time we all just enjoy being out of the house for a bit.
Nothing about this situation is at all ideal but I can honestly say that the children are fine. They learn something every day, they are learning things they would have never learnt. They are also learning about resilience, perseverance and tolerance. I remind myself every day that memories will be made and that though things might be different to normal that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I have learnt to let go of the things I just can’t get done and accept that what we can do is going to have to be good enough.