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The Coronavirus pandemic has left a lot of parents worrying about how best to home school their children during lockdown. Primary school teacher Kathryn shares her advice…

On the day the schools closed, it was really hard saying goodbye to the children in my class, as I wasn’t sure when I was going to see them again. I’m also used to being able to pop next door to ask for advice from a teammate and I can’t do this anymore. We have such close relationships as colleagues that being away from everyone has been a tough adjustment.

Thankfully we’re able to use different video apps and I’m finding that being able to keep up to date with people has been so valuable. I’m part of a community choir and our choir leader has put so many things in place to keep us all in touch. My family WhatsApp group has been active every day which has been a vital link and keeps my spirits up.

I know that having endless days with no plans could be detrimental to my mental health. I’ve come to recognise that life is more manageable when I follow a routine, so I’m trying my hardest to make sure my days have a little structure to them. I get up at a reasonable time, eat my meals at normal times, set aside a clear window for work and have been strict with myself about when to switch off and relax. I am also embracing being able to do things I wouldn’t normally do during ‘term time’, like cross stitching, reading for longer than 20 minutes or watching a series on Netflix.

I know that it’s important to think about my own wellbeing too, otherwise things can seem a bit overwhelming. I make sure I am getting enough sleep, eating the right things and taking five minutes throughout day for myself. I usually take a stroll around the garden or sit out there in the late afternoon with a cup of tea.

I’m also a parent as well as a teacher, so I still find home learning tricky at times… it’s important not to not put loads of pressure on yourself! The work that has been set will be something that your children should already know a little (or lot!) about, so they should be encouraged to have a go independently just like they would do in the classroom.

One of my colleagues makes a plan with her child every morning over breakfast about what they would like to achieve that day, something I also tried with my daughter and found really successful. Another great idea they had is to just have a quiet reading session or curl up with an audiobook for 40 minutes after lunch each day. This gives everyone some meaningful relaxation and adds to the routine that keeps us well.

Intersperse those “sitting down” learning activities with something active: for us that includes watering the plants in the garden, playing swing-ball, making a cup of tea or putting away the clean washing.

There are so many learning resources online that have been made free to use during the pandemic – just google the subject and year group and there will be lots available at your fingertips! Try not to spend more than 45 minutes on one piece of learning and put away the schoolbooks at 3pm at the latest if you can.

Embracing the flexibility of learning at home can give you time to reflect and adapt. If something isn’t working, remember you can change it! Most of all, enjoy being with your children. There’s no pressure to make everything perfect, only to relax and spend quality time together.

If you would like to find support for any of the themes in this story, take a look at our following resources:

Our Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Helpline is for anyone experiencing poor mental health or wellbeing challenges as a result of the pandemic in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Get some tips from our Families toolkit

Young Minds run a helpline for parents

Havant and East Hants Mind children and young people’s helpline (11-17 year olds) – 0300 303 1590

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