We’re over a month deep into this homeschool malarkey and the novelty of the parent-teacher/offspring-pupil dynamic is definitely wearing off. How can you bring more fun and movement into home learning and get kids reengaged as lockdown is set to carry on for weeks more? Two women extremely experienced at teaching through play are here to help.
There are different ways to tackle home school. There’s the ‘leave them to it’ method; the ‘watch over them like hawks’ madness and when all else fails, the ‘follow in the footsteps of Nike’ and Just Do It for them. None are likely to gain the Ofsted seal of approval.
One mum has, however, come up with a winning formula and if you have children aged between two and eight, you may want to take note. To be fair, she’s an ex-teacher and founder of Pop Up Play Village – a roving role play experience for kids – so she should know what she’s doing. Becky Hoare has a pre-schooler and a child in year one and rather than follow the textbook approach, she bases her education on play.
“Learning through play is one of the best ways for children to learn,” explains Becky, “it comes naturally, gives them space to be creative, imaginative and inventive and it’s fun. Best of all, they don’t even realise they’re learning.” Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? One of Becky’s most popular lockdown teaching ideas (posted daily here) is the ‘create your own office’. She explains: “First we made a laptop from an old cardboard box. My son wrote out all the keyboard letters which was a great way for us to practice his handwriting and phonics. We then made a phone with all the numbers. My daughter decided she wanted her office to be a bank so out came the money, the till and the chance to do some maths.”
After a particularly arduous day working my way through the worksheets we’d been set, I decided to give this a go. I was amazed at what my children did with an old Weetabix box. They loved the laptop idea and even decided to make a mouse to go with it. We did handwriting, phonics, maths and art and design – without me even mentioning the words ‘school’ or ‘work’. What’s more this kept my pre-schooler happy too as I could easily tailor the learning to each age group.
Another first-class idea from Becky was the pop up post office. “I don’t usually prep any resources in advance but for this activity, we did make and paint the post box the day before. I put boxes, paper, card, sticky labels and envelopes on the table and asked my kids who they wanted to write to. The dog was the lucky recipient of letter after letter, written without any fuss by my usually writing reticent son. Once the post office was open, we weighed parcels and sold stamps – great ways for me to bring numbers into the equation.”
Of course, it can’t all be about schooling and now, more than ever we know the importance of keeping kids active. Joe Wicks seems to pretty much have got this covered, but younger children perhaps need something a little more age appropriate and who better to deliver this, than London’s ‘funtivity expert’, Action Amanda.
Amanda has spent the past thirty years working with young children and their parents – encouraging them to have fun and be active. She says, “Right now, that message is crucial for health and wellbeing and that’s why I’ve been running daily Zoom classes for the early years. We sing, we dance and most importantly we have fun. Younger children can be forgotten in the home-schooling day and that’s why I offer something tailored, specifically for them.”
You can sign up for Amanda’s classes for as little as £1 a day. I joined in too and do you know what? I found dancing round my living room to ‘Wheels On The Bus’ strangely therapeutic. Maybe something to try before you reach for the gin?!