In these extraordinarily challenging times, we are all learning how to navigate in new ways. Our lives have been disrupted and it may take a while to find a new rhythm that works. Be prepared to re-evaluate your high standards around work, home life and your kids’ schooling and learning. Some days are easier than others, and that’s ok! Do what is possible, even if it’s not as much as you’d ideally like. Your kids are learning many other things during this time.
Innovate and iterate
One of the top pieces of advice from educators and psychologists is – ROUTINE! However, this is not necessarily as simple as creating a schedule and getting the whole family to stick to it immediately. Expect to create a schedule, try it out to see what works and what doesn’t work and then adapt it. It may take several iterations to find a flow that works for you and your kids, and one that allows productivity and learning to take place as well as having space for rest, play and creativity.
Let your children teach you
As parents, many of us have become comfortable with allowing schools and teachers to take the main responsibility for our children’s learning. Having the kids at home provides a fairly unique opportunity, in this day and age, to engage more actively with their learning. And this also means shifting perspective on what ‘learning’ is: it’s not just maths worksheets and grammar from the standard curriculum. Let your kids guide their own learning by sharing their interests and curiosity with you and then facilitate deeper exploration for them. They can then also teach you what they learn! One of the best ways of learning is by having to teach someone else, and they may quite enjoy the role-reversal. Encouraging kids to follow their curiosity helps to build skills of self-motivated learning which will stand them in good stead as they get older.
Teach life skills
Regardless of age, kids can get stuck into the everyday tasks of life and home – basic life skills! They can help hang the washing, wash the dishes, assist with meal preparation. Include them in the daily routine of life at home and this will instil excellent habits and skills that they will carry with them into adulthood.
Get inventive and creative with what’s available
Encourage creativity as much as possible. Here are some tips on encouraging creativity from British teacher Andria Zafirakou, the 2018 winner of the Global Teacher Prize and a World Economic Forum cultural leader.1
Asking questions: Creativity is all about questioning: How can I? Why should it? What would happen if? How can I make this, or how can I change this? It’s about making sure that children are always being asked those questions.
Keeping everything: Do not chuck anything away. Keep a bag with all the egg boxes and toilet rolls in a corner, because that’s going to be a mine of incredible craft-making materials.
Setting challenges: What kind of musical instruments can you make today from what’s in the bags over there?
Giving them time: The beauty is that the parents are in control of the time, for once. So you can give your child two hours to get on with a wonderful creative task, and they wouldn’t have that in school.
Being creative with space: Think about the space in your house. What can you change, what room could be theirs? What space is not utilized? What can you get rid of to make them a work area or for their equipment?
Thinking outside the paintbox: Creativity is not just about arts and crafts, it’s also about the kitchen. What kind of lunch can they make for you while you’re working?
Amidst the many difficulties that lockdown presents, try to use this unprecedented situation as an opportunity to learn and grow with your kids and allow yourself the time and flexibility to discover what works best for your own family.