My name is Delia, I am a Teacher and Mummy of a very energetic and inquisitive 3 year old.
Like many of you during this time, I am at home trying to keep my son Maurice occupied all day when he would usually be at Nursery. However, my partner and I are both working from home. He is an IT professional working 9-5 at his desk and I am a secondary school Teacher currently trying my best to do my job from home. I wanted to write this blog to share my experience of juggling home schooling with working from home. I hope that I can use my experience to help others.
A heavy workload
I teach at a very large school which has over 2000 students. We are currently setting work online for all students via pre- recorded and live lessons. Much of my time has been spent creating new resources. I must mark all of the work that gets handed in. I teach 8 classes at the moment. 8×24= 192 students, plus my form group which is another 30. The first thing I do when I get up is check my emails and I have to be available online until lunch time. My form group also need weekly well-being messages from me via our online learning platform and make numerous phone calls to parents. Very soon I will have to start planning my GCSE courses for September. It is a heavy work load. I am sure many of you busy Mums and Dads can relate no matter what industry you work in, especially now. Also, take it from me, if you are struggling contact your children’s school, us teachers are there to help!
This is a daunting time for parents
I totally appreciate that planning some kind of educational activities can be so daunting for parents, especially for non teachers. My experience in teaching Art has helped greatly though as it allows me to come up with creative activities quite quickly. However, I teach teenagers which is entirely different to keeping a very active toddler occupied and interested all day.
Team work makes the dream work!
In the early days of lock-down, we wondered how it was all going to work, but with some careful planning we have found a routine that works for us. Of course, life with a toddler rarely goes exactly to plan. If you have some idea of what you intend to do that day, share your intentions with your child before-hand. If things do not go to plan it is not the end of the world. There is always tomorrow.
If in doubt, make a list
The first thing we discussed was our work loads and how we would navigate those whilst maintaining an environment conducive to learning for Maurice, but where both us parents are still able to get some work done. I made a list. Get up, get dressed, brush teeth, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath, bedtime. Then I divided the day into chunks much like it would be at nursery. Maurice is only 3 but he has a huge thirst for learning and is due to go to primary school in September. I wanted to be able to do things with him that would be appropriate, fun and challenging. This idea could work with children of any age. Hopefully your child’s school has provided you with resources by now, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of structuring your day which can be such a challenge even when you are not working from home at the same time.
Where do I start?
As my son is 3, I followed the EYFS guide (early years’ foundation stage) which is a document that all nurseries use. By looking at this, I was able to plan a variety of activities covering different areas of the curriculum. Personally, I love Arts and Crafts activities and like to blend these with literacy, numeracy and other key skills to create my own resources, some of which I will be sharing with you here soon. There have also been some fantastic resources available for free on educational websites such as Twinkl and BBC. I printed some of these and divided them into different subjects and put them into folders. Maurice may want to show his teachers when he starts school.
I also got a lot of plastic storage boxes with labels and made a “school” corner so that all our resources and stationery is to hand. We certainly do not have a huge house so our dining table is currently Maurice’s school table. We always ensure that myself and my partner both have ample time to complete our own work in another room away from distractions. Also, scheduling in regular breaks is important for the whole family, apart from a regular meal time, breaks for drinks, to stretch the legs and to step outside for some fresh air just like you would do at work is so important for the health of your family, especially on “lock-down”.
You can’t expect a child to sit quietly and do work all day (they wouldn’t do that at school)
We aim to do one main focused learning activity per day and a mixture of shorter tasks. Then lots of play. We make sure that Maurice plays a part in things around the house such as cooking, gardening and tidying his things away. Maurice has ample screen time. He uses the iPad to play games and loves watching YouTube. Ryan’s World and Kidz Bop are very popular in our house. It is essential sometimes if we need to make a phone call, do washing, take a shower etc without a toddler in tow. Do not feel guilty about allowing your little ones screen time, just be mindful of what they are watching.
Workin’ 9 to 5, or is it 5-9?
At about 5 pm when Daddy has finished in the “office” Maurice usually plays a bit of football/basketball etc. We eat together, then Daddy gets him ready for bed and has story time. Then it is my turn to do my work. That allows me to get 4-5 hours in before bed time. Now, bedtime is something which I haven’t quite mastered for myself yet but it is something that I am working on.
There really aren’t enough hours in the day and if you are anything like me, you will not sleep until everything that needs to be done is done. Needless to say, my hair has been neglected, my nails are rubbish and my brows look like slugs, luckily no one is going to see me. I do prioritise cooking hearty meals and having a cuppa in the garden whilst talking to my plants, lol! I really hope that all the Mums and Dads out there are looking after themselves. I have promised myself that I will go to bed by midnight then I will find those early mornings a lot easier. My promise has already been broken because it is 1 am. It must be time to log off.