With schools across the UK closing due to teacher strikes, many parents face the prospect of having to entertain their children whilst working from home. Searches for ‘teacher strike’ have soared in late January as parents try to find out what is happening.
To help, Dr Richard Anderson, head of learning and development at High Speed Training, shares some top tips around how parents can help keep children occupied so they’re able to work from home productively:
1. Try to keep elements of a routine
“Your child may view strike days as a bonus day off, so it’s a good idea to make sure they stick to a routine rather than letting them slip into holiday mode. It’s a lot to ask for parents or grandparents to replicate a full school routine, but there are elements that you can keep in place.
“Waking up at the usual time, eating breakfast and lunch as they usually would are the key things to keep in place. Outside of this, try to include periods of learning, especially for older children who can make use of online portals and resources, but don’t put yourself under too much pressure to replicate school exactly.”
2. Encourage healthy activities
“Creating an itinerary of some healthy, fun activities your child will enjoy will help to keep them active and avoid them spending too much time gaming and or on mobile devices..
“Playing sports with their local friends will help them to get out and about, or you could go for a walk together on your lunch break to get you both out of the house.”
3. Create an educational ‘watch list’
“Believe it or not – a Netflix session can be educational. There are plenty of brilliant informative documentaries and programmes out there which can act as a great learning tool for kids. From David Attenborough, to Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History – could your child create their own ‘watchlist’ of interesting shows? Depending on their age, you could ask them to write, or record, a review following watching the programmes.”
4. Encourage dedicated working time
“It’s important to keep a little momentum when it comes to learning. Online resources such as BBC Bitesize are brilliant for providing lessons and learning activities for your child to take part in. Try to introduce a dedicated working time that works alongside other activities, as well as dedicated rest and break times.
“This helps to keep them on track and in the learning mindset. If you’re working from home and your schedule allows it, you could even work together in the same space to keep them on task.”
5. Work with other parents
“There will no doubt be many parents who will be unable to get the time off work and may struggle to fit in the unexpected additional costs of childcare, so it’s a good idea to work with other parents to share the burden.
“If you’re able to, and your work allows for the flexibility, you could opt to child-care share with another parent, one taking the morning shift, and the other having the kids in the afternoon. This will allow some work to be done for each parent without distraction.
“Group activities will help keep the children engaged and in the mindset of working together. You could arrange a selection of activities from sport, to group learning, or even a trip to a nearby educational museum or location, providing you have enough supervision to ensure one parent isn’t looking after too many children.”
6. Continue reading
“It’s important that reading isn’t treated as a chore. Ask your child what the topics or themes they would like to read about are, these days you can easily find cheap second hand books online and you can get hold of free books in a library.
“Encouraging them to spend time reading will help to keep their minds focused and engaged, and ensure they’re not wasting the day. For younger children, settling them down with an audiobook will allow them to engage in an important educational activity, whilst giving you time to work.”
For more information and resources around homeschooling, safeguarding in schools and children’s mental health, visit: www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/safeguarding/