Managing virtual education can be a complicated business. It can be difficult to create structure and helpful learning environments for children but there are plenty of tips and tricks to try. Suzanne Horton, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Primary Initial Teacher Education with QTS, has some advice for those trying to navigate teaching from home:
- Environment: Have a designated learning space for children so that there are clear boundaries set. This helps children to focus and not become too distracted. A cosy area for reading, accessing podcasts and sharing stories is useful to provide different learning environments. Storing resources and stationery in a box means everything is at hand and children can easily tidy away afterwards.
- Routines: Have a routine but try to remain flexible. Routines help children to feel safe and, in these times of uncertainty, are definitely useful. Pin a daily schedule on the fridge so that the family can see what is happening. However, remember that you may need to be flexible and it is not the end of the world if you can’t be available to help explain pictograms or tally charts because the washing machine has suddenly broken or you are on a Teams meeting – teachers understand!
- Resources: Make use of the resources available. These include the BBC 2 and CBeebies programmes that are being screened daily. Find out information and schedules here. Take a look at Oak National Academy as there is a section for parents and carers.
- Bring in Experts: Scope.org.uk is a great website with everything in one place from virtual museum visits to useful podcasts for children. Access science lessons delivered by NASA or theatre performances from The Globe. Check out the National Archives for History resources and videos and learning to draw with Rob Biddulph. For all things English, take a look at UKLA resources and the British library. Build on your Geography skills with David Attenborough and take on a Dyson challenge. A quick google search will provide many more free resources.
- Get outdoors: Take a walk or factor some time in the garden. Find some ideas for outdoor learning here. Or for older children, engage them with some virtual fieldwork.
- Stay safe online: Make sure you are aware of how to keep children safe online and speak with teachers if you have any concerns. There will also be guidance on school websites and it is a part of the school curriculum.
- Wellbeing: It is a difficult time for some children as they are unable to socialise, see friends or mix with other households. It may be difficult motivating children to engage with online learning or set tasks. Keep in touch with teachers, pastoral support and Year Leads if you have any concerns. Websites such as Every Mind Matters and Young Minds offer support and resources which are specific to Covid-19 and Lockdown
- Remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take breaks, keep in touch with teachers and make use of additional resources to support home learning. Have fun!
Suzanne Horton is a Principal Lecturer and the Course Leader for BA (Hons) Primary Initial Teacher Education with QTS. She joined the School of Education in 2012 as a senior lecturer and subject lead for Primary English. She leads the undergraduate programme and predominantly teaches on the English modules.