Schools have closed again so, unless you're a key worker, you're facing taking charge of their learning through another lockdown. Of course it can be a bit daunting, but we're parents ourselves, so we want to pass on our top tips for home-schooling under 5s. We're all in this together - and we know you can smash it this time around too! 💛
1. GO EASY
Go easy on yourself and remember, this is all temporary. Mother Mag has some great advice from parents who regularly work from home, including planning calls for just as you get kids stuck into an activity, as well as taking short breaks to escape the madness. If you haven't already, why not create a little space for them to call their own, such as a play table for their learning activities, reading and mealtimes too?
2. GET A PLAN
Plan the day ahead - a simple schedule can really help keep your day on track. You can create your own timetable, or find one on groups like Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas. Starting your day with some exercise together is a great way to wake up and get focused. Joe Wicks' brilliant morale-boosting morning workouts made him a well-deserved superstar in the first lockdown - you can still find loads of his great lessons online. We especially love his 8 Minute Kids' Workout With Spiderman. (Google it.)
Fill activity slots with some of the awesome remote lessons out there. From Theatre of Sciences online classes to sign language by Ettie Betty Baby Signs and easy peasy art classes on Harptoons Publishing's page, there is so much free inspo to keep them occupied.
3. STOCK UP ON SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Got a craft box full of dried-up felt tips and blunt pencils? Darn it. Fresh stationary will limit the stress right now. For preschoolers, Micador Junior ColourRush Jumbo Pencils are sturdy, easy-grip and come with their own sharpener - yay! Or Crayon Rocks are an ever-popular mess-limiting pick for all ages. For older children, you could choose something like the kitpas chalk pens, which come with a cool, mini black board.
Definitely, definitely, utilise screens too. We are big believers in using technology for good. There are some amazing free-to-use apps and websites to supplement their learning, like the Teach Your Monster To Read app and The Kids Should See This, which has ace educational content for them to get lost in.
4. BE BOOKISH
We love books at KIDLY. Reading to them has so many emotional benefits, as well as being a nice escape from the daily grind! Fun Fact: Reading to them for just 20 minutes a day exposes them to an extra 1.8 million words over the space of a year 🤯 and has proven academic benefits in the long run.
We always have plenty of new titles to refresh your shelves. They can enjoy other voices reading aloud to them at the award-winning children’s literacy resource StoryTime Online. Or get them a Toniebox. A huge hit for Christmas 2020, they bring screen-free spoken word and audio fun to their fingertips, with loads of well-loved stories to access in a whole new way.
We’ve also come across the #covibook, written to help explain the Coronavirus to children under-7s. How about investing some time in creating a cool reading nook - somewhere cosy and fun they'll want to hunker down with a new title? And finally, why not connect with other parents of mini bookworms on our KIDLY Book Club page as well?
5. USE NATURE'S CLASSROOM
Forest schools might also be shut for a while, but this lockdown doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the great outdoors. If you are lucky enough to have a good-sized garden, mow the lawn if it needs it, ensure play equipment is safe, organise their mud kitchens and fill up sand pits as well.
Wrap them up in cosy outerwear and send them out to forage for evergreen leaves, which they can use for collaging later on. Garden centres are staying open - phew! - so you can even start to teach them some simple gardening skills, using their own mini tools or great horticultural short-cuts like Seedboms.
Life may feel a little bit upside down again as we suss out the right balance - but remember, your sanity matters as much as their early learning! So, whether you're going full-on homeschool or are free-styling it with no schedule, give yourself a pat on the back. You earned it.