With our school closed for the foreseeable future we would like to provide some guidance on how parents can keep their children healthy, happy and learning at home. We realise that there will be many challenges for families and that everyone's personal circumstances at home will be different, for example, where some parents are required to work from home, balancing childcare and home schooling at the same time. Not an easy thing to ask. Each family will have to work out what works for them. However, we are on hand to help through our Dojo Classroom Communities.
Please sign up to Class Dojo so that you can keep in touch with your child's teacher. Through Class Dojo you'll be able to ask your teachers questions, the children will be able to share their work and maintain a relationship with their teacher and classmates.
Our online virtual school provision will develop over the weeks to come. During the week ahead, we will provide further advice and guidance relating to some of our online learning platforms.
Please let us know what is (and is not) working for you so that we can supplement our virtual school provision. We have never been in this situation before so it is a learning situation for us all. You will find below some suggestions that we believe will help your child to be healthy and happy while continuing learning away from school:
It can be hard to maintain a routine for both adults and children when you face an entire day spent in the house - things quickly become unstructured. Trying to mimic a classroom environment at home probably isn't going to work, but setting out roughly what you plan to do each day will really help. Our teachers have put together a weekly timetable of activities for different year groups. You may choose to use these but may want to draw up your own that suits all children in the family and the adults' working commitments too.
Holding a family 'meeting' where everyone can discuss the changes taking place at home could be a good idea. Children may have questions and it is important that parents take the time to explain the coronavirus pandemic in an age-appropriate way.
2. Exercise & Activity
Everyone knows that exercise improves physical health. But perhaps what is less known is the impact it can have on our mental health - this is especially true for children. We’ll probably all soon discover that solitary confinement is not good for human beings, we don't cope with it terribly well - especially children.
We suggest you aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day across the week and that this should include a variety of types and intensities of physical activity to develop movement skills, muscles and bones.
Guidance also asks parents to reduce the time their children spend sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some form of activity. Aim to spread the activity throughout the day. There will be many online routines that you can follow including the Joe Wicks’ live 30 minute PE classes being run between 9am and 5pm every weekday.
Focused activities such as puzzles and building Lego constructions can help keep children occupied, while arts and crafts help them stay creative. But remember that these methods won't work for every child. You’ll need to do what’s right for you and your child. It may be a good time to try and introduce them to new things such as cooking or baking or gardening. Good old fashioned board games are also a great way to pass the time, often whilst working on literacy, numeracy and thinking skills.
3. Socialise as much as possible – remotely of course!
Children will undoubtedly miss their friends and crave the social aspect provided by the classroom. You can make use of technology to fill the void. Setting up playdates via 'Skype' or 'Zoom' can help while at home.
Going online with some members of the class to complete home learning tasks may increase children’s enthusiasm.
We’re not going to be running live streamed school lessons or coordinating “hook ups”; we know that internet access and IT availability may be a challenge for some families if things have to be done at a set time. Teachers will post videos and talk to their children in the Dojo Classroom Community to keep in touch.
At this stage it’s very difficult for us to say the frequency of teachers' video posts or set a school wide expectation since staff will be working in Monmouthshire’s Hub schools to care for the children of critical workers and vulnerable learners. It would be a huge ask of them to have to post a daily video etc. when they are working in challenging situations. Our staff will also have their own child care commitments and other demands on their time during these unprecedented times.
4. Continue learning where you can
Our staff have been very busy preparing and identifying materials for the children to use at home. A number of charities and education firms are also offering resources on their websites, for example, the BBC has announced it will ramp us its educational programmes to help parents staying home with children and will be launching a whole new iPlayer experience for children.
Teachers will upload a home learning menu to the school website each week which will include literacy and numeracy tasks for your child to complete at home. There will also be plenty of other ideas and activities on the school website. Some parents and carers may think that there’s too much work to get through, but we'd prefer to offer too much than too little. While you may be anxious about sustaining your child's learning at home, it is also important to enjoy building relationships by spending time together, taking turns and sharing activities and reassuring your child that you are proud of the effort they're making in engaging with distance learning.