I’m often asked by parents for advice on delivering successful home learning. The truth is, there is no right answer.
Everyone’s home life varies enormously and what works for one family is a non-starter for another. Some parents have the time, resources and confidence to teach their children, but we must not leave any child behind and that means providing the right level of support for everyone, especially the least confident, most vulnerable families.
Parents and carers are battling through this third lockdown that will stretch at least into March. The cold weather means more time indoors and we know that juggling so many responsibilities leads to stress and frustration for parents and children.
It’s hard because there is so much to do, not because you’re doing it wrong.
My advice is to be kind – kind to yourself and to everyone around you. The ethos we share across all Venturers Trust schools is to ‘work hard and be kind’. Everyone is already working so hard, just to get through each day. But the task is much easier if we put kindness at the forefront.
Try to strike a realistic balance of what works for your family to help avoid everyone becoming tired and demotivated. There are many different types of learning, with the least appealing and least effective being intense academic tasks for hours on end.
All of our schools, as a minimum, provide daily time with a teacher online to help frame expectations for the day and to provide support and time together as a class. Depending on the year group, this ranges all the way up to live online teaching for the majority of lessons. Whilst home learning isn’t a choice this time, there is certainly flexibility in how families choose to engage with and deliver home learning.
Establish a routine that works for your family and try to avoid comparing your routine with others. Social media might not be telling the whole story!
Our teachers, leaders and support staff have put in tremendous efforts throughout the pandemic, rising to this latest challenge with energy, enthusiasm and resilience. They are coping by supporting each another – and grateful messages from parents and carers mean a great deal to them. Meanwhile, your children are adapting to yet more changes in their lives and they miss their friends and their teachers.
These are difficult days, but we are all learning from them; and there are some unexpected benefits. Schools and families now have a much greater understanding of each another and this has led to improved relationships. Across all our schools, we have seen so many positive connections being made in the face of adversity.
Above all, parents and carers, be kind to yourselves. You can’t be a great mum/dad/carer, a great teacher and a great employee all at the same time. Focus on finding the easiest way to complete what has to be done: your own work and your children’s school work. Prioritise making time each day to enjoy the fresh air together, do something fun and cherish your family time.
The pandemic has presented steep challenges that families are experiencing together. Alongside their education, children are learning invaluable life lessons at home including empathy, patience, resilience, the value of money and the importance of family. Don’t give up, because one thing we know for certain is that from amongst these children, great leaders of the future will emerge.
David Watson OBE, CEO of Venturers Trust