So, we have been in this pandemic a while now and lets not pretend it is easy. As parents, we are struggling big time. Even parents of neurotypical children are pulling their hair out.
This blog is not catered for parents of special needs children only, but parents of ALL children. Parents that are trying their best to log on to the 4 different sites their child has to access as well as the Microsoft teams or the google classroom and navigate around a minefield to upload work after a 3 hour battle of getting your child to complete just one piece. It is hard and we all know it. Juggling your child’s school work responsibilities as well as working, shopping, cooking and organising now 3 meals a day, cleaning up after housebound individuals (which is extremely time consuming) and possibly, like me, taking care of a baby as well.
So, if you feel like you are failing miserably or your child is not doing their work as asked, then do not worry. I have some tips and strategies that I hope will help you along the way.
The schools work is developed to get information into your child’s head so they can keep up with the curriculum. Lets face it, how this happens is irrelevant as long as they don’t go back to school and they are so behind that school becomes a huge task in itself.
Here are some tips for you across subjects. If you struggle with something I haven’t mentioned or you have different challenges, please do let me know. I have plenty of things you can try that may prove successful. If your child is struggling to simply not understand the work and cannot remember the information, again, please let me know. I can create a blog regarding ‘thought association’ which I hope is really useful. Below I have covered some subjects to help you along the way in the meantime …
- Spellings: Just writing these out and recapping is useful for some, but does not work for others. Create a word search. They can visualise the words at the bottom. Do a simple square pattern on excel and use it to write letters in. That way you can use the template going forward for other things. Circling the words carefully also gets the spellings into their heads. After this, if you feel they need more practice, the child can then use a blank template to put the words into a word search and fill the rest out with random letters, then it can be your turn to find the words. This is a much more interactive way to learn and it helps to visualise what they are doing.
- Sporcle: This website has become a friend of mine over the years. Personally, I find it fun and very educational. It is a world full of quizzes and fun things to do. If your child is trying to learn something like ‘countries of Europe’, they can visualise the map on the website and every time they type a country in, the colour of the country is filled in. They can then see where the country is located without consciously learning it, plus they learn the spellings of the countries too. I have learned every single country of the world through sporcle plus all 50 states of America. There are so many different topics. Whatever you need, it will probably be on there … even harry potter. Give it a browse here
- Topic specific: OK, so your child is trying to learn verbs and adjectives but s/he gets jumbled up. A crossword is a fantastic tool for things like this. Again, create it using excel, or even on paper. You need to come up with the questions and answers first and then slot them in otherwise it will be tricky. Only once have you placed the boxes in the right place can you number the clues. But you could do adjectives across and verbs going down. Clues like ‘an activity in the water’ – SWIMMING. Again a great tool to help them with the language.
- Exercise: We are all worrying about the lack of exercise our children are getting during lockdown. There are lots of things you can do, especially if you have a garden. But if you want to get out, you can create an ‘eye spy’ list and the kids will need to tick the items off the list when you are out walking. It can be simple or more educational. For example, a black cat, a red car, a tree, a bird etc OR if they are learning different things in science like types of trees, then this could be your tick list: Oak tree, sycamore, ash etc You can google pictures and put the names underneath. This is a fun way of being outside whilst learning subconsciously. I am a karate instructor at Kosmo SKC and just the other day was asked to start creating videos for parents who wish to learn about warm ups, exercising and some karate techniques too. I have only just started and more videos will be uploaded. But I have posted a warm up video to start you off so if you wish to take a look you can: (15) Lesson 1 Kosmo, basic warm up/stretching with Moley Brown – YouTube
- BBC Bitesize: This is also a great tool for all subjects and categorises it in age related topics and covers the national curriculum. Check the out here
- Languages: Very tricky to learn, especially when no one else in the household may know the language your child is trying to learn. Books can be boring. Stimulations is best when it comes to learning a language. There are some brilliant tools out there. FB groups can help for the older kids. For younger ones or even for you, Duolingo is a great little app. It is also free. Many adults pick up languages this way and they have many languages to offer. If Spanish is your thing, and your child is learning, then LingoPie TV is great. It is a subscription, but they can pick and choose different programmes to watch. It will tell you whether it is for beginners or advanced etc. When watching the show, you can have English and Spanish subtitles on. You can slow the show down to listen to words more clearly and even pause the video and click on words which will tell you the words meaning. After the show, there is a word bank you can access that will show you all te words you clicked on. You can then bin it if you have remembered them or keep them in your bank until you do. The only warning that comes with LingoPie is if young children are using it for language then please ensure you are supervising them as some of the programmes will not be suitable for their eyes.
- Maths: This is a tricky one to help with right now unless I know what it is your child is struggling with. Again, if you ping me a message on here, I can make another blog and attach videos to make simple lessons to help with what it is they are working on. Number bonds are the most important thing in maths. Working on number bonds to 10 and knowing them off by heart is really important. For eg 1/9, 2/8, 3/7, 4/6 etc. If they have this in the bag then working on 2 numbers to 100 for eg 41 and 59. Then multiplication. It is important with 12×12 grids that they learn something more simplified first, so learning their 2s, 5s and 10s before they move on to 3s, 4s and 6s. But please, please, if your child is simply not understanding a method in maths which is making it really tricky for them, then let me know. Learning numbers can be fun in the way of recipes. Maybe make some biscuits, Have the ingredients on a piece of paper. You could even say ‘I have a recipe to make a cake/biscuits but I need your help because it is in a puzzle, You could write things like ‘Butter – 50g add 150g’. If your child is working on more complicated things then make the recipe more complicated ‘Butter 75 x 2’ etc. If you want some simple recipes, ping me and I will add some.
- Bucket List: Finally, apart from school work and the worry of them keeping up. I suggest you take a deep breath and ask yourself ‘What skills does my child not yet know that they will not learn in school?’ You have quality time together and you can use this time to teach your child life skills. I recommend a bucket list of things you think your child would find very useful in life. We made one, here are some of the things we included in the list:
How to make a bed How to use the washing machine How to hang a picture
How to write a letter How to apologise properly How to bake a cake
How to earn money How to wash up/dry up How to count money
We had over 50 things on the list. But the best, was opening up a tuck shop. I set the kids some work, I stuck a rota on the wall about their expectations. For example:
08:00 Brush Teeth, wash face, brush hair
08: 15 Breakfast at table
08:30 Clearing desks/rooms, ensuring work is ready
09:00 work starts. Assignment #1
09:50 Assignment #2
Now depending on chores, behaviour etc, they would receive a little pocket money and they could come to the tuck shop and spend it on a snack. They would work out what they could spend and how much change they would receive. Then they could have their break time.
The money would only go back in the tin, so I wasn’t really losing it and the snacks they would be getting each day anyway. Therefore it cost nothing but still allowed them to be a part of something bigger whilst subconsciously learning and having fun. Life skills are just as important.
You can even get them to create posters and menus using art and creativity skills to make an official shop.
I hope I have listed lots of fun and different ways to help your child learn. Remember, do not stress too much. There are always different ways to learn things and there is so much to learn too. So, create your own routine and help your child develop life skills, self management, self improvement, responsibility, and creativity in these difficult times. And if there is ANYTHING I can help you with in the meantime, please just ping me a message and I will get on it as soon as I can.
Lots of love to everyone and wishing you all stay safe in these uncertain times.