Family fun and home learning
As schools are now closed for the foreseeable future, parents are being asked to take care of our children’s education as well as manage work and the health and wellbeing of our families.
This is a big ask. Go easy on yourself.
We run Conscious Craft alongside the needs of our family and talk to parents every day, so we thought we’d offer our tips for enjoying the great indoors at this time. Also, we happen to have plenty of resources to keep your kids occupied, having fun and learning lots.
Create a rhythm for your day
This is slightly different to imposing a fixed timetable or structured routine. It’s about intention and being led by mood, energy and the season. In fact, it may just be a case of noticing the rhythms that you already have in place. Maybe you always have the same bedtime, or lunch at roughly the same time each day. Or have you started to go out for a walk first thing in the morning or do you prefer taking your exercise after lunch when your energy dips? Children feel safe when they can anticipate what’s coming next but there also needs to be enough flexibility to keep painting if they want to rather than stopping for a mid-morning snack simply because the clock says it’s 10:30.
Creating a rhythm will also help you manage younger and older children as you can plan quiet time with the older ones while the younger ones have a nap. This will help them know that you are making time just for them.
Let go of your expectations
Just because we are not leaving our house as much doesn’t mean we are letting go of the pressure or expectations we put on ourselves. In fact, the pressure to homeschool our children, keep the house clean and tidy, be resourceful with food and money, keep ourselves well, stay connected, take care of our neighbours as well as get along with our families may lead to more expectations than usual. Not to mention dealing with the worries about the external world. Reading posts on social media about the amazing, fun things other parents are doing with their children at home may be inspiring one day and lead to self-criticism the next. Let go of those expectations. Do what feels right and nurturing for yourself and your family today.
Just one thing
Following on from letting go of expectations. Aside from the essentials, such as eating, if you could only choose one thing from your list to do today, what would it be? And once that one thing is done, since it isn’t so easy to plan your day with children around, we find it helpful to have a list of small tasks that can be ticked off when you find yourself with a small pocket of time.
Children learn so much from playing
Different schools have different approaches to setting tasks for children, but there should be some flexibility. If your child is struggling to keep up or not in the mood one day, then reassure yourself that there are plenty of other ways that they will learn during this period. Here are some suggestions:
When playing with blocks, either wooden ones, cardboard boxes or food packaging, children learn about balancing, geometry, as well as using imaginations. Create a city or citadel and add small world figures, animals and vehicles. Give them a box of pencils and a tape measure for drawing on the cardboard boxes.
With the children at home all day, it may feel as if you are running a café from your kitchen. Get your children involved not only in the cooking, but also making a sign and a menu. Lay the table out nicely with your best plates, a makeshift table cloth, and a cake stand, if you have one. Then invite the rest of the family to tea. Your children will learn cookery, maths, mark making and communication skills!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy stories, which all helps with learning to read and write. If invited into a child’s imaginative play, suggest your child tells you about what’s happening and make a suggestion or two to develop the story (not too many!), for example, tell me what’s going on here. What will happen then? Why? What’s this character doing? What’s their name? They may not want to involve you at all and the story might be all happening in their head, so they may not want to talk. That’s all okay.
Other story ideas:
- Make a story scene in a shoe box, where the sides flatten down and a world opens up inside.
- Make a book. You can start with creating a book out of paper or thin card and then encourage your child to write the story or draw the pictures. Or make a book out of a story they have already written.
- Refresh the dressing up basket with some new props. Particularly if you have had a sort out of your wardrobe.
- Create a den in your living room and hideaway there with a pile of books or some small world pieces.
- Set up a fairy garden or home in a corner of your house or garden.
- Act out a fairy tale. Make up your own.
Children learn maths from music when they create a beat with a drum or other percussion instrument. Play some loud music to dance to. Use music to create mood as you move through the rhythm of your day - maybe you always have the same bedtime song or tidy up music. Write or draw to music and see what difference the sounds make to what appears on the paper.
And if you need any more reassurance that you are doing the right things, here are a couple of blog posts on learning maths and preparing for writing for younger children:
10 Tips To Help Your Child Learn Maths: https://consciouscraft.uk/blogs/news/10-tips-to-help-your-child-learn-maths
10 Tips To Get Your Child Writing: https://consciouscraft.uk/blogs/news/getting-ready-to-write
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