With the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, we all find ourselves in situations we have never experienced in our lives. Understandably, anxiety, confusion and worry are rife because, along with this, comes many changes to our everyday lives. For many parents (parent is used to cover parents, carers and anyone tasked with engaging children in learning at home), this includes taking on a new role for which the vast majority have not been trained… to teach their child(ren). We at LWP thought it would be useful for you as parent/carer/unexpected teacher to be reassured about the coming weeks no matter how it goes!
Firstly, you are not a teacher, so do not try to be one. Teachers generally have an innate desire to work with children and experience years of training to get there. They are observed, assessed and qualify to do the job that they do. Therefore, it is unrealistic (unless you are a teacher and a parent) to think that you will be able to do the same job. However, this should be reassuring. This knowledge should relieve the pressure of engaging your child(ren) in learning five subjects a day, for an hour each, with limited breaks. Your role as a new learning partner is to help guide their learning in activities set by school. More broadly, it is to help them navigate their changed daily lives with the best wellbeing possible.
If your child’s school has provided learning packs or uses platforms such as Google classroom, it is important that you are able to see what is being set and that clear instructions have been given. It should not be your job to have to learn a whole new topic to teach your child. Where possible, if instructions or tasks are not clear, then do contact the teacher or school to see if there is someone that can help. Your child may already be hesitant to complete any work at home, so removing the barriers of unclear work can really help them to at least ‘try’ for a short while. This also goes for differentiation. If your child has additional or special educational needs, please communicate with the school about ensuring they have appropriate work to complete. This may mean less writing and more hands-on learning such as drawing, painting or audio recording answers.
Remember, teachers often have between 20-35 children in the classroom at one time. Therefore, it will take them a much longer time to get through the lesson material they have. With a parent to child ratio of 1:1, 1:2 and even 1:3, you may find that you can get their learning tasks done in next to no time. This is not something to panic about; they have been set enough work. It would just take longer in the classroom. Firstly, the teaching hour is often divided up into four 15-minute blocks where there is some teacher input (teacher mostly speaks), some group work (class discussion or pair work), independent work and then checking in at the end. Not to mention getting books out, putting books away, fin