Have you ever considered home educating your children? ‘absolutely not!’ is my response! I have the highest respect for parents who choose to teach their own children, but personally I prefer to teach other peoples children rather than my own! In all honesty, I had no idea about the impact of school closure!

I over-prepare for everything (but to be clear I have not stockpiled loo roll, nor do my kitchen cupboards look full, but must confess that I did buy an extra bottle of Gin this week and a boot load of tonic water…just in case). However, I have been organising how I will educate my children and what our daily routine might look like if schools are forced to close. 

My husband and I have two daughters (aged 12 and 14) and I am a secondary school teacher so why not teach them myself? Should be easy right? Well, no! Simply put they don’t do as I ask them with the simplest of requests (think Kevin and Perry, or on occasions Vicky Pollard), so why would they suddenly allow me to teach them how to construct complex sentences or use techniques to deconstruct Shakespeare’s great literary titles? 

They think that school closing will mean hours of Facetime to friends, TikTok dancing and computer games and being able to spend the day in their PJ’s. While a few days of this might be ok, should this rumble on for (what we all suspect) months, I need to work out a sense of routine at the start or I will be doomed (and no I am not being overdramatic).  Without a plan, my sense of wellbeing will be shattered by cabin fever AND teenagers who will just argue all day long, if not occupied productively. 

The importance of routine when dealing with the impact of school closure

Here are my top 3 tips to implement a routine (remember after 20 years of working in schools I’m still hardwired to look at my watch at break time and absently wonder why I haven’t heard the bell sound yet!) 

ONE Agree as a family a routine from the start and write it down. 

It is much easier to start as you mean to go on than introduce once you have all got used to lying in, watching box sets and slobbing out! 

TWO Get the ‘boring’ tasks done in the morning. 

Psychologically having something (however small) to look forward after a task will spur you all on to complete the more mundane things first in your day. Focusing each morning on schoolwork allows the bribe of ‘get it done and then…’ 

THREE Plan exercise every day. 

Exercise might not be my favourite thing, but if I am going to set a good example to my children (particularly to my youngest who loves lounging in her PJ’s and has an insatiable appetite for box sets) then I am going to have to get my butt in gear. Our friends in Italy have built an obstacle course in their (tiny) garden – they compete to see who can finish it the fastest. There is a plethora of online tutorials and workouts to follow and even better I know of wonderful small businesses who are going online to help – so let’s support them and get stuck in.  Exercise is great for body AND mind, it gets the blood pumping so that those brain cells can start fizzing. We recommend that you follow Kierhan Ellis who runs Evolve Fitness Training who will be running live training sessions in our Facebook group

Don’t go overboard. You are not running a military camp! 

Make sure that each day you have some fun and put aside some of the usual screen time limits. This is about coping under unusual circumstances, and for some extremely stressful circumstances, so don’t beat yourself up when you let your children have three times as much screen time as usual. A lot of useful learning resources and games are online; so you might just have to embrace it. A lot of us will be trying to work from home and juggling work, children and isolation will be a challenge for us all.  You can download a suggested Daily Routine Printable Example or a blank version for you to fill out Daily Routine Printable Blank

Setting a new routine may involve getting up earlier than usual to work before the children wake, or doing school work in the morning, to allow Thomas the Tank engine for three hours in the afternoon. But where do you start if schools have not managed to provide work or you are finding it hard to access? 

Supporting your child’s education and minimising the impact of school closure

I have been interested in my friend’s conversation, along the lines of “but that’s the school’s responsibility isn’t it?” Well yes, but urm no! Let’s keep this in perspective. Unless your school already has all their resources online it is a massive task to suddenly do this in such a short space of time. The pressure they must be feeling is immense. As a teacher for 20 years, I can categorically tell you that the technologies commonly used by businesses (e.g. Zoom calling, Loom videos, Facebook private group live videos, etc) are not commonly used or even known about within many teaching circles and education establishments. They are way too busy keeping up with curriculum and inspection changes to keep up with technology too. 

So what how can reading this help? Well, we are lucky that there is a host of incredible resources that we can all access to help our children and keep their brains active. Here are the ones I have tried and tested over the years; 

Twinkle (Primary, Secondary, and SEN) All subjects 

An amazing resource for all ages and includes SEN specific work too. There is a basic package you can sign up for but they are also offering all schools FREE membership for parents to access to help with the impact of school closure.  Read more in their blog here  

SparkleBox (Primary and SEN) All subjects 

All free to download with no need to register or sign in. The resources are basic but there is a fab parent section with loads of printable sheets for activities at home.  

BBC Teach (Primary and Secondary) All subjects 

A huge amount of resources and presented in a child-friendly way. There are videos to watch for nearly every curriculum topic. For secondary aged students, this is a favourite.  

BBC Bitesize (Primary, Secondary and Post 16) All subjects 

Also, available as a phone download. The beauty of bitesize is their questions for each subject and topic. Children can learn and then check their knowledge. It is even broken down by area for GCSE and A level (e.g. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). I am a bit fan of their English KS3 topics  

Seneca Learning (Secondary and P-16) Science, English, Maths, Business, French, Spanish, Geography, History 

Tons of free revision content which most secondary school uses for Y10 and Y11  

Education Quizzes (Primary, Secondary) All subjects 

Everyone loves a quiz right?! Education Quizzes has over 3000 online quizzes written by teachers to help children remember and revise what they are learning in class  

Quizlet (Secondary) All subjects 

Free to access quizzes to check on learning  

The Literacy Shed (Primary and Secondary) English 

My favourite resource! Watch short films and read stories and then practice comprehension skills. Full of ideas to inspire literacy and story writing  

Nessy (Primary and Secondary) English and Maths – SEN (Dyslexia) 

This is sadly not free but it worth every penny. Spelling, writing, and maths programs.  

Teach it English (KS3, 4 and 5) English, Drama and media studies 

It is free to become a member and then you can access a huge amount of free pdf downloads about nearly every aspect imaginable for English, Drama and media studies  

KMtuition (Primary and Secondary) Maths and English 

English and Maths tuition, exam past papers and worksheets to prepare for exams 

Maths is Fun (Primary, Secondary and P-16) Maths 

Split up by topic so simple to pick an area (e.g time tables) and focus on that  

Maths Chase (Primary) Maths 

Times tables games – so easy and most children really enjoy it!  

Transum (Primary and Secondary) Maths 

So many puzzles and games to practice your maths skills and all for free.  

BBC Terrific Scientific (Primary and Secondary) Science 

The BBC excels again with fun experiments to do at home, video’s to watch and topics to work through  

Mystery Science (Primary and Secondary) Science 

American but highly relevant lessons that all children will love. They announced last week a free registration due to the school closures around the world.  

Blockly (Primary) Computer programming  

Why not let your children learn how to program on the computer? Scratch is also a site that allows you to be creative with computer programming  

Ted-Ed and The Kids should see this have an array of engaging and cool educational videos. There is also The Crash Course with hundreds of YouTube videos on many subjects and a younger primary version Crash Course Kids 

Duolingo (Primary and Secondary) Languages 

Both Web and app to learn a language for free 

How about completing an award with your children while they are home? Try one of these; 

Crest science Awards are possible to work through at home and then you can send off for the certificate. There is also a digital enterprise award scheme which can be completed online. 

And last, but not least, YOU. How do you reduce the impact of school closure?

If you are self-employed then find an online community. Relationships built online through Facebook groups are worth their weight in gold and really do help deal with the impact of school closure. A problem shared etc etc..  

The two I recommend are  @Thesocialgiraffe – The Social Giraffe Tower our private Facebook group which is a kind, generous group of all types of business owners. Owned and run by Katie Cooper who founded The Social Giraffe. She has a wealth of knowledge about the running businesses (she has two of her own) and a generous heart and sense of humour which unpins the group ethos. 

We are also involved in #CoronaKindness – Business Support Collective another private Facebook group offering support, advice, and guidance to businesses during this unprecedented time.  

Please feel free to share this resource with anyone who you think it would help. Remember to tag #CoronaKindness and we hope to meet you ‘virtually’ in the coming months.

This blog was written by Philippa, a teacher of 20 years who upskilled to learn everything Social Media with the award-winning TechPixies.