We are thrilled to hear the news that schools will officially reopen on the 8th March, permitting our students to rejoin their friends, be back in the classroom and start to engage again with the benefits that only in-person, engaged learning can provide. It has been a long and frustrating year of disruption and too much time in front of screens, not to mention missing out on the socialising and teambuilding exercises that school brings…plus the extra pressure on parents to balance home learning with full time work and additional commitments.
So what happens when we are no sooner back in the classroom, and it is time for Easter holidays? As quickly as students resume their time at school they seem to be right back at home with several weeks off. Any activities or novelties being at home during this time have surely been exhausted in the months leading up to what we hope will be the real start of eased restrictions.
The timing cannot be avoided, but we can prepare for it. Our Directors of Consulting, Simon and Jacqui Northcote-Green have prepared some suggestions of ways to plan for this additional stretch of time at home…when many limitations due to Covid have not yet quite been abolished. Between them, Simon and Jacqui have over 20 years of teaching experience, and furthermore as ex Deputy and Assistant Heads of some of the top schools in the UK, they harness an understanding of overall growth, development and the standards students can reach when equipped with the resources they need to thrive.
Firstly, we must stress that both Simon and Jacqui are big advocates of the importance of having a cut off from work and revision, where children can recharge and digest all the learning that has happened thus far. Lockdown has meant, for adults as much as children, that the separation between work and play is a blurred line. It is increasingly difficult to move from one to another and means that true rest and relaxation is not easily achieved. All the more reason to make a plan, and establish a distinction between rest, and productive and engaging ways of filling the days over break so we make the most of this period before school entry once more.
1. Making a plan and keeping a regular routine is key
As we mentioned, no matter who you are, or indeed what stage of life you are at, parent or child – having a good routine that manages your time effectively and is achievable is key to having a productive day. We are all creatures of habit and being able to structure our day helps bring order to our lives, particularly important during this time of uncertainty. From personal experience, starting the day with a short walk, ideal for the dog owners amongst us, is a great way to start your day and clear your mind. Routine also helps with focus and consistency and teaches important lessons in discipline for both young and older!
2. It is important that in creating a routine you do so in partnership with your child.
It’s a collaborative experience. Always try to empathise with your child and ask yourself how you would feel being put in that same situation or having such a routine, particularly at their age. Having a buddy to complete the routine with always helps momentum, in the same way working alone as an adult can be less motivating then collaborating or having a partner to do it with.
3. Ask your child short revision questions, which can be tested by another member of the family.
This is great to do around the dinner table. Particularly if you are able to turn this into a game where the loser gets another serving of sprouts – it helps make the revision less daunting for everyone. Integrating thought and practice into everyday activities makes the practice less daunting and takes the dread out of it!
4. Try and get ‘work’ done in the morning.
This is a great habit to get into. Your child might at the stage where they find it difficult to start work early in the morning, the days are getting lighter and soon the weather will be warmer. There is something to be said for starting fresh and to begin productively, means the whole day will feel successful and well spent. In structuring the school day with lessons in the morning and games and sports in the afternoon, there is an element of getting the worst over it and feeling rewarded. Keep up this habit during the holiday and you will find it makes getting back in the routine once school starts all the easier, too.
5. Play family Trivial Pursuits, chess and other board games such as Scrabble or watching Blue Planet and try reading Junior Week.
These are fun, stimulating activities that can be shared together. Developing your children’s social skills is almost as important as their academic work. Remember most schools will require children to conduct interviews as part of their admissions process. Encourage confidence and love of interactions in a fun environment and see how it relaxes and brings everyone together. From a personal perspective, I cannot recommend highly enough the Blue Planet series – give it a watch. Encourage discussion and debate, these are questions that many assessors will ask in interviews, such as “why is plastic such a problem for the planet” or “how have you noticed the effects of global warming in your daily life?” Another idea is to read a book together and watch the film adaptation afterward to compare and contrast.
6. Play memory games – items on a tray.
As we are sure you have found, remembering key pieces of information and being able to effectively relay it is a key part of the 21st-century working environment. With increasing reliance on technology and memory aids, this skill has never been more important to actively nurture. Throughout our educational experience, nothing has aided us more than being able to remember key pieces of information! Try out different techniques to see how your child remembers best – are you a sensory learner? Do you prefer acting it out, teaching others, reading alone, listening to podcasts or writing it down?
7. Research your ancestry and family tree.
This is a great skill to bring up during the dreaded ‘what did you achieve during your Easter break/lockdown” interview question. Involve the whole family and discover the longest cousins, which countries we all come from, and how the family surname came to be!
For information on how to book a consultation with Simon or Jacqui, or more details on how we can support your family during this time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02070340800.