(As always Viruses have a lot to answer for)
Coming out the other side of Self-Isolation into imposed isolation has been a daunting thought. My last post was the hopeful words of a person watching, hawk-like, for any sign that someone in the house was falling ill – and at that time we were clear of symptoms.
Sadly, it didn’t last long. Within days there were three of us all with temperatures & coughs – and that obviously meant everyone locked away from the rest of the world! I started by letting my work know, then the schools & then my OH sat the kids down at breakfast to explain to them what was happening….
The mixture of responses was a bit bizarre frankly.
16yo – *Yes*!*
9yo – Dances around the room
7yo – Bursts in to tears with loud lamentations of how she’ll miss school & her teacher and all her friends (I kid you not)
6yo’s – Twin 1 “Does that mean I don’t have to get dressed?” and Twin 2 “Why?”
See what I mean?
So we set up our laptops in the dining room & began a routine with the kids which would give them some kind of structure when they were feeling fell enough (and we were too!)
It went sort of like this (And PLEASE bear in mind that we are a family of early risers so our day starts at around 5am-ish)
5am – People start to wake (Normally Elliot (Twin 2) who promptly starts looking for someone to talk to – and disturbs daddy, who then gets up.
5.30 am – Daddy’s alarm goes off (if he isn’t already up) and into the bathroom first.
By 6am – Children do themselves breakfast
6.15am – Teeth and hair brushing
6.30 am – Learning tasks on tablets (A combination of Duolingo French for Matthew & Chloë, BBC Bitesize topics for Chloë, Tristan & Elliot and either Timestables Rockstars for Matthew or one of the timetables apps (on android) for the twins.
7.00 am – Self-guided reading (Normally) although I might just sit down with either Elliot or Tristan If I’ve already caught up with my emails (We’ve generally both already logged on our laptops and made a start by 6.30)
7.15 am – Guided learning. The school have provided packs for the KS1 children (Including a pouch full of “making stuff” for our little engineer, Elliot) which we’ve been working through, supplementing it with our own learning materials sourced from various online resources as well as our own heads!
8.00 am – Breaktime. By this point the kids heads would explode if we tried to do anything more (we may have stopped a bit earlier if they’ve got through their tasks already) They go watch TV, or play with their toys or go outside (wakes the neighbours up if they weren’t already!) whatever they want to do.
I generally sit and eat MY breakfast about now – having cleared the table of all the kid’s stuff AND caught up with anything important from the previous day, including making sure that my laundry is rotated by either myself or the relevant child earning their chore money.
9.00 – 11 am – PE of course – and most of you will know all about this. But if you haven’t seen Joe Wicks YouTube PE sessions, then please get everyone moving to the next one!
The next learning tasks, however, will depend on what was completed earlier but may include Scratch coding, mini bug hunts, weather watches, spellings or handwriting practice. Whatever we do, we will make them sit at the table to write up, draw and generally acknowledge the work that they have carried out. It’s essential to give the day some sort of structure – CHILDREN NEED STRUCTURE. They just don’t function well without some kind of routine, even if it’s just the basics of mealtimes, self-care & some attempt at literacy/numeracy.
11 am – 12 pm – Lunchtime. I know that seems early at face value, but remember that we started our day at 5.30 so…
After lunch my OH & I tend to find that our workloads have begin to build up so we shift our focus AWAY from guided learning to letting the children pick what they want to do.
12pm – 3pm Crafts, drama, computer. Having been somewhat more structured in the morning & being able to work alongside them, assist if necessary, my OH and I take a bit of a “back-seat” so to speak, concentrate more on our own work (we’ve taken turns in the morning when it comes to covering each other for conference calls, for example) and get our heads down to clear off our work before the end of our day – rescheduling stuff which might take more time than expected, or breaking it down into manageable pieces, completing items which can be finalised and generally leaving things in the same way you would if you were “physically” leaving your place of work! No-one wants a cluttered desk!
3 – 4 pm TV time (or Gameboy or Lego or whatever) again – they can choose what to do for another hour.
I can already hear people saying that we spend too much time in “learning” mode, but I can genuinely promise you that with the exception of that first period in the morning, when they need to get their heads in the game, we do just let them be creative, and a bit spontaneous, and work around the themes set for them – we don’t make them just sit & write, or hover over them. We will ALWAYS allow for breathers – snacks – disappearing for 10 mins – when that’s needed & as often as it’s needed.
Once 4pm arrives we look at making dinner – one of the children can help (or not) sometimes my 16yo makes a cooked lunch earlier in the day so all that’s needed at tea-time is a sandwich or something similar. If we don’t eat a cooked meal at lunch then we’ll sit down at around 5pm – quick note: THERE IS NO PAID CONNECTION HERE WHATSOEVER – for the last 3 months we’ve been using HelloFresh boxes. It started as a way for the three “Grown-ups” to have a “Proper meal” (excuse all the speech marks) after 2 of us got back from our jobs in central London, and after a quick search around the T’Internet, I picked this one. It’s definitely a fab way to introduce more veg into your diet (if you not great at that) as well as exploring vegetarian food (again something we weren’t great at).
Then, our day is done. Generally, whilst dinner is being done everyone is wherever they want to be – given the nice weather for the last week, that’s been out in our garden for at least some of them – but they might choose to do what we call “Learning tasks” which allow them to earn computer gaming time for pleasure. Something like the twins practising their timetables, or Matthew doing work on BIDMAS, or Chloë going through long multiplication (We’re on a bit of a maths kick for these tasks at the moment if you hadn’t noticed)
Anyway, they have their own space, we eat dinner and then it’s either bath first or straight into PJ’s before sitting down (all 7 of us) to watch a documentary – BBC of course!
All hail Sir David 🙂
I’ll add links to the resources we’ve found particularly helpful on my “Links” page here