With schools closed and no immediate prospect of them reopening, millions of parents across the country have taken on the role of ‘teacher’.
If you’re not used to home schooling your children, it can be a daunting prospect. So, to help you to keep things interesting (and to protect your own mental health) here are some ideas and inspiration to help you make home schooling fun during the lockdown.
- Have a routine, not a timetable
If you have ever tried to do homework with your children, you know how much harder it is to make them work at home. So, you are not failing if you can’t get them to stick to a timetable.
Remember that these are extraordinary circumstances. Most people who choose to home school do lots of research and preparation before they take the leap. You have just been thrown into this!
One way to tackle home schooling is to have a routine rather than a timetable. This will keep you all sane but not put unreasonable pressure on you. Insist on your children getting dressed by a certain time, having breakfast by a certain time, and making their beds every morning.
Then work out a flow to the day that works for you. If you’re also working from home, have a set time in the day when they know not to bother you unless it’s an emergency. This could be their solo-working time.
Routine is good. Stop for lunch at the same time each day. Take a walk every day. Do something for you (and just you) every day.
- Look for artistic inspiration
Art is good. If you’re looking for inspiration, then two of the world’s great art galleries have thrown open their virtual doors during the coronavirus lockdown:
- Join popular children’s author Jacqueline Wilson for a tour of London’s Tate Modern and get inspiration for art projects
- The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s #MetKids programme was designed by kids. Click through a Where’s Wally? style map to learn fun facts about the artefacts best suited to kids, such as William the miniature Egyptian hippo that’s the museum’s unofficial mascot, or head into the Time Machine to discover art and culture from a particular time or place.
- Discover life through a live cam
Offering an incredible range of live experiences, Explore.org’s catalogue of live cams lets kids explore all aspects of the natural world from their laptop.
Featuring hundreds of different live experiences, you can watch anything from a live osprey’s nest to puppy playtime at a care centre.
Explore also has an education centre where more than 300 videos, photos and lesson plans are organised by location or conservation-led topics.
- Make a list of things you want to learn together
Lockdown is a great time for you and your children to learn about subjects together. So, make a list of things you all want to know more about.
Perhaps you have a shared interest in space and want to explore the surface of Mars? Discover African wildlife by going on a virtual safari? Or maybe you just want to learn more about your own garden and spend this time bonding with your children as you all create a great outdoor space (it’s also good physical exercise!)
- Teach life skills as well as academic subjects
Learning doesn’t just have to be opening textbooks and encyclopaedias. Use this opportunity to embrace learning in a different way.
Use the time you have together to teach your children to take more responsibility in the home, helping out with jobs and sharing the load a bit more. Show them how to cook something for themselves, or how to do a load of washing. You might even teach them how your personal and household finances work, such as what a mortgage is and why you should save into a pension!
- Explore the Earth’s natural wonders
Once you and your family have enjoyed your daily exercise in your local park, why not escape from your neighbourhood into some of the world’s most impressive natural wonders?
There are plenty of ways to experience some of the planet’s most amazing sights:
- Hike the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail. One of the most popular long-distance routes in the national park (9.3 miles), it zigzags up from the Colorado River to the south rim
- Climb to Mount Everest’s base camp
- Watch the Northern Lights
- Climb El Capitan
- Take a 360-degree tour of the quartz-sandstone pillars of Zhāngjiājiè, known as the ‘Avatar mountains’.
- Visit a museum
While the world’s great museums may be closed, it’s still possible to take a tour of some of the most famous landmarks.
Start at Paris’ world-famous Louvre, which offers several excellent virtual tours. A highlight is The Advent of the Artist; an exhibition in the Louvre’s Petite Galerie. This features some 40 artworks from the likes of Dürer and Rembrandt alongside literature from the time to trace the emergence and recognition of the concept of the artist.
The British Museum’s fantastic Museum of the World interactive experience will keep children entertained for hours, as they navigate a highly immersive journey through time, continents and cultures.
Or, if your children like art, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum allows you to enjoy YouTube private tour videos from the permanent collection, and a wealth of in-depth website pages containing stories about Van Gogh’s life.