It’s been a couple of weeks since parents of school-aged children found themselves suddenly cast in the role of teacher to their kids. It’s been a steep learning curve: week one was spent shoving children in front of Joe Wicks at 9am while simultaneously getting the hang of multi-person video calls (‘We can’t hear you! Is your mic on? You’re sideways, Beverly!’) and printing out realms of worksheets from school doomed to be drenched in milk from upturned cereal bowls five minutes later. Week two brought acceptance – and the feeling that this has all been going on for a LOT longer than a fortnight.
Are we all going to get the hang of juggling teaching with work, catering and housekeeping? Here’s hoping. Bubble’s teaching advisor Sarah Zeqiri – a secondary English and Drama teacher as well as mum to 16 year old Ella, 10 year old Dexter and two-year-old Mabel – has some sound advice to guide Bubble parents through. She’s also now on hand to answer your questions about any aspect of home learning – head to the Bubble app and ‘Ask Sarah’!
If you’re at home with school-age children, you’ve probably found yourself supervising a range of activities sent in by teachers. But when was the last time you worked out the area of an isosceles triangle or made a list of dynamic verbs? Here are some top tips for teaching at home.
The teacher is not expecting miracles. They know that everyone is just doing their best and they won’t come banging on your living room window asking why they haven’t received a PowerPoint on the features of Greek Tragedies from Jimmy. It’s quite the opposite. Teachers just want the kids from their classes to have the opportunity to access education and continue making progress, but they are flexible.
If you’re experiencing problems with work set, you could adapt it and email the teacher to let them know what you’ve done differently. Perhaps the video of instructions won’t load, you don’t have a printer at home or there is only one computer being shared in the house: these are perfectly good reasons to set another task and if you inform the teacher, they might have an alternative for you in the future.
Set time limits
It can be easy to have kids spend hours on a particular task but that shouldn’t be the case. It is common for students not to complete all of the work set for a lesson so you shouldn’t be stressing about finishing everything. Explain the task as best you can, make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and set a 30 minute timer.
As long as you think they put in a decent amount of effort, let that be that. Don’t forget that the teacher has taught your child since September and will know how they usually work in class, so if work is being submitted back to them, they will understand if only the first half on the assignment was done.
How much help is too much help?
Teachers are trying to find out what their pupils are capable of; your knowledge isn’t being tested. If a topic comes up and you want to do a bit a research, then go for it. If you need to help a kid open a word document or spread sheet, than crack on. But you are not expected to sit and teach your child all about the respiratory system or build a life size model of Hampton Court Palace.
Make sure your child has access to all of the necessary equipment they need (pens, paper, ruler, exercise book), read through the task with them and then leave them to it for the allotted time. You can get on with something you need to do and answer any small questions they may have as they get on. You’re also not expected to correct all the work – you could point out any mistakes but children are often encouraged to try and make corrections themselves.
Bonus tip: If you have access to Alexa, Google or Apple speaker, set it up near your little workers and they can ask all the basic questions such as spellings and dates. This will save breaking your concentration every two minutes and fosters a little bit of independence on their part. Winning!
Just do your best
Last Thursday, my flat was full of severely fed up and anxious children, so I ‘differentiated’ the learning for the day. That is to say I scrapped the teaching schedule and we made cakes, had a Lego tower building competition and then a bit snuggle on the sofa, binging on Disney films. It’s ok to have a day off. The bonus was that, on Friday, everybody was happier and the day went really smoothly so it was worth it, even if my inbox was a little on the full side!
Nobody wants children feeling stressed out by school work in these tricky times, and yes, keeping some sense of school going will keep everyone’s minds sharp and ready to return. BUT, and this is a big but (cue childish snigger), school work should only take up a fraction of your day. Some days it will feel like it’s all coming apart at the seams, everyone is on a go slow and nothing the teacher has sent is being attempted let alone achieved…but that’s ok. Just do what you can and remember you’re only human!