Tag Archive | school at home

A curriculum for kindness

It gets harder and harder, doesn’t it; coping with the restrictions in life during this Lockdown, without the simple community and social pleasures we’re used to, never mind the distancing from loved ones.

There’s a whole range of challenges right from those who’re suffering total isolation, to the irritations of being clustered continually with those you could do with some space from! All that’s hard enough to deal with never mind the worry and anxiety about becoming ill. Add onto that the children’s progress and it’s enough to tip anyone managing to keep sane over the edge.

I hate to see these awful sensationalist headlines about youngster’s lives being ruined because of this ‘gap’ in their education. It’s so unhelpful and is basically about using our currently delicate emotions to sell news, regardless of the truth of the situation. It’s totally immoral.

This time now is not necessarily a ‘gap’ in education, it’s just a change; potentially an opportunity.

It is, however, a ‘gap’ in the meaningless measurement and box ticking process that the system has made of learning. And media coverage, like suggestions of kids’ lives being ruined, contributes to this sensationalist ignorance about learning.

The children will be learning, even though it’s different. They’ll be learning different skills, educational and practical, developing personally – you cannot stop that process despite what academics you do or don’t do. They’ll also be learning how to learn for themselves perhaps. Learning about life and living with kindness and compassion, and appreciation for those in tougher places than themselves.

This makes them grow into good, caring people and responsible, productive citizens, as much as anything academic will. Ironically, that was one of the reasons behind the setting up of this schooling system all those decades ago; to create literate, productive citizens in the industrial sense of the word. And that’s what the government agenda is right now; citizens who’ll contribute to the economy – that’s their main focus.

Contributing to the economy is desirable, rather than being a burden on it, obviously.

But there is a more important aspect of education that also needs to be contributed to, but which the government doesn’t bother with as it can’t be measured;

the wealth of kindness, empathy and compassion that is necessary in order for us to live happily and without harm alongside each other and upon this planet.

This starts at home and it should be perpetuated through any educational approach.

We’re seeing prompts for kindness all over the place currently. As if we need reminders. Perhaps we do.

In this business of building an industrial and consumerist life, which is what the system educates for, we have side-lined the essential fact that in order to survive, both as a species and in harmonious wellbeing, we need kindness and compassion as well as academic learning.

Do we educate for that?

Would it not be better currently to set exercises in living together with kindness, rather than leaving it as a by product of maths, English and science? Surely that’s what’s needed right now? To help children learn how to put themselves in other people’s shoes, both those in the house and out of it. Learn how to consider everyone’s hardships not just their own. Help youngsters see beyond their own difficulties to a wider picture. Build resilience. Practise everything and anything to do with kindness. Do anything we can just to get through these hard times.

These would be better targets for the day: How can we make this day better? This hard time easier? How can we accommodate all the different temperaments and needs in this household? How can we turn today’s procedures into kindly ones, rather than gruelling ones?

We’ve got to get through these hard times. A curriculum for kindness will make them easier to bear.

And I reckon the general educational progress will be the better for it!

A wider educational perspective beyond school propaganda

I’m really feeling for parents.

Whatever your youngsters are doing; school-at-home, home educating, further or higher education, or working, it’s worrying. For all of us. Everyone is suffering from anxiety over the unprecedented crisis the pandemic has caused.

So I kind of feel it’s unhelpful to suggest that one group, whether that’s the tiddlies or the teens, are suffering more than anyone else. It’s hard for all in different ways, adults included. Each group has their challenges. Everyone needs compassion right now whatever stage we’re at in parenting or education, work or family.

However, I do have particular compassion towards those parents who have dutifully invested in an education system via schooling, now taken away, that had become increasingly flawed. And that was before the pandemic and school closures even started. For those flaws are showing up now more than ever, the rigidity of it most of all.

Parents have been driven to believe that schooling is the best for their youngsters’ education. Urged to believe that a rigid structured approach to learning, with targets, tests and continual measurement is the only way to educate. In fact they’ve been hoodwinked into believing that, without it, their children will be failures with no hope of a successful future. Sold the idea that without endless grades their young people will never be employable.

Parents have been sold these ideas through powerful educational politics and emotional propaganda that keeps parents subservient to a system that suits the government. This is not because it’s best for the learners. But because a subservient population is easier to manage.

And currently parents are bombarded with statements about how this time without school will have a dire effect on their youngsters’ long term future, especially if they don’t do what the school wants.

None of this is helpful. And not actually true anyway.

Let’s face it; this crisis is going to have an effect on everyone’s future, not just the school kids. Whether it will be dire or not depends on how we respond to it. It will be different certainly, but different doesn’t necessarily mean dire.

However, I can understand parents’ anxiety about it.

Maybe what would help is to take a step back from this emotional bombardment from schools and see it from another perspective.

Firstly, success does not necessarily depend on grades. There are both employees and entrepreneurs out there who are proof of that, Richard Branson among them.

Secondly, education is not only about schooling, curricula, how many worksheets or work books you’ve filled, about targets, academic exercises, test passes, graded subject matter and the rest of the school strategies used to so-called educate. It is about developing a broad, cultured, inquiring mind that is curious and keen to develop the skills to learn. It requires far more personal skills than the academic – skills which are equally dependent on being learnt out of school, like motivation, communication, intuition, responsibility, independence, for example. (How can school kids develop independence when they’re constantly coerced into shutting up and doing as they’re told?)

And, thirdly, if you take a wider perspective, success is not confined to what happens between the ages of six and eighteen. Not confined to qualifications. It is a life-long, ongoing process that can be constantly developed and updated – independently of an institution – as much as in it. At any time.

Fourthly, youngsters are not necessarily going to be scarred for life by this disruption to their traditional, systematic schooling any more than any of us are. In fact, you could argue the opposite view, that they may benefit from it, as I hear on social media that some are.

We are all having to diversify, be inventive, manage our well being (particularly tricky with being so confined), whatever group we’re in, to get through this. But they’re good skills to practise!

So it may be wiser to adopt strategies to calm the worrying about how to prop up a system that is outdated, consumerist, blinkered and damagingly conservative anyway, ignore these horrible emotive threats from schools, keep in touch with other parents so that you can question and rebel against the abominable practise of fines against those parents not keeping in line. They can’t fine you all. And besides, how did threats and fines and bullying ever become an acceptable approach to education?

Be bold. Do what your intuition tells you is best for you and your family. Question why schools ask of you what they do. And develop a wider perspective on this out-of-school time, the most difficult of which, for the time being, is looking after your mental well-being.

Learn to look at education differently. Look up how experienced home educators have done it so successfully over many years, resulting in intelligent, productive, qualified and successfully working young people, who mostly ignored school practises and did it their way. Look at their approaches and philosophies (Read mine by scrolling down the ‘About Home Education’ page on this site) and develop a different perspective. Take charge of your children’s education for now. Your child doesn’t need to be fodder for school stats.

Try to encourage your youngsters to be busy with a wide range of activities which interest them, which they may never had time for before. Variety develops intelligence and skills far more than a narrow curriculum does. Hang in there until better times are here.

I very much doubt that in twenty years time anyone is going to look back and say I’m a total failure because I missed a year of schooling. Because by that time they won’t be total failures anyway, they will have adapted, updated, found other ways forward, made a different success. Your child’s success isn’t determined by their school years alone. Have faith. Success is a long term thing often based in an ability to diversify and be resourceful, just as we are doing now.

Better times to come!

Then, maybe, as Spring approaches and parents question and demand changes, not only will you see bulbs blooming, but also the burgeoning of a better education system than the restrictive, inhibiting, coercive, political one we have now, a new one that is not just there to serve the politics, but that actually serves our learners well.

School-at-home, home schooling, home education – what’s in a label?

Whilst schools have been closed and everyone’s children learning at home during lockdown the term ‘home schooling’ has been commonly used to describe all children’s learning out of school.

But those who were ‘home schooling’ before ‘school-at-home’ came into being know that it is not the same thing. And most experienced home educating families prefer the title ‘home educating’ anyway.

But why are we getting up tight about labels?

The main reasons school-at-home, and home schooling or home education which parents were already doing, are different is that school-at-home parents have been thrust into it without choice, but generally with some guidance and practical lessons from schools.

With home schooling or home education, which families were already practising prior to lockdown, parents take full responsibility for their children’s education and deregister themselves from any school and consequently any support from them.

Many experienced home educating families prefer not to use the term home schooling because of the connotations of the words ‘schooling’ and ‘educating’.

Their use of the term ‘home education’ is based on the definition of education in its broadest sense as in bringing out, or developing of potential, rather than the drilling of facts and skills into the young as it has become through schooling. There is a very interesting article ‘What Is Education’ on the Infed.org site which gives a definition of education as ‘the wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning’ which is how many home educating families interpret it and which you can’t help but feel is lacking in many school approaches.

Most definitions of schooling mean educating in school, which is why most experienced home educators like to shy away from using the term ‘schooling’. It suggests a training or drilling of children that can disregard their needs and learning preferences and is often the reason parents step away from mainstream school. Schooling tends to have the agenda of the school at its heart, rather than the needs of the individual.

Home educators generally see the education of their children as a much broader more balanced undertaking and use approaches in line with that, which put the interests, preferences and needs of the child at its heart.

So the difference in the terms is important to them.

However, ‘home education’ it’s more of a mouthful! And ‘home schooling’ has become the most popular term, especially in the media, used to refer to those families whose children do not go to school but do their learning independently of them. But it is not to be confused with school-at-home which no doubt will end.

As parents progress with home schooling, taking advantage of the choices and flexibility it offers, and see how children learn and become educated almost by themselves through the many diverse and varied approaches available, they begin to appreciate these subtle differences.

There are other labels and philosophies attached to home educating, like De-schooling and Un-schooling and World-schooling, which parents also use.

De-schooling usually refers to the time and process of recovery needed for those children who’ve been in school and switch to home educating. It takes a while for children and parents to adjust to learning in different ways, to release any damaging effects of school and get used to new routines, approaches and choices open to them.

Un-schooling is similar, except that it doesn’t necessarily refer to recovery from school, more an approach to learning and educating that doesn’t rely on familiar habits and traditions we associate with a school style approach to learning many of us have ingrained within us. As the saying goes; we can take the child (and ourselves) out of school but it’s more difficult to take the schooling out of us! (Excellent book on the subject which I blogged about recently here).

World-schooling generally refers to parents who facilitate their children’s learning out in the real world, often through travelling, away from the school world, or those who have alternative lifestyles different from the mainstream. They see the world outside of school as a way of making their educational provision.

But labels aside, what’s more important than what it’s called, is what parents do as home educators/home schoolers. That they are guided by the needs of their child within the context of them taking their place in the world, by finding approaches that work for their circumstances and that all are happy with it.

Many understand all the above as the same thing anyway – and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter to the kids what we call it. It’s what we do that counts. And there’s a huge diversity and flexibility in what you can do to make home educating a success!

Lockdown: a good time to question

Well I wasn’t going to put my own mugshot on here, my daughter’s much more photogenic!

My daughter’s given me a haircut.

Is she a hairdresser? No! Does she have any idea about what she’s doing? No! Has she had any training about shaping a short cut?

Nope!

But stuck in during Lockdown and unable to go to the hairdressers I decided to risk it or end up looking like a shaggy dog.

It’s turned out brilliantly. Choppy admittedly but that’s just how I like it. Which has made me question why the heck I’m bothering traipsing to the hairdressers once a month.

Lockdown is inevitably making us confront and question many parts of our life. And I suspect there are others who are now questioning those things they suddenly find they can do for themselves, children’s learning being one of them.

A huge majority of parents have been thrust into the scary position of having their children learn at home, when they wouldn’t choose to. But I guess in some cases, where it’s working quite well, it’s prompting questions about what goes on in schools.

Now I’m not questioning the incredible skills of good hairdressers or brilliant teachers. Neither am I suggesting they’re the same thing! And of course this is only a temporary situation.

What I am suggesting is that lockdown is raising questions about schooling and learning that have long needed to be asked. Questions like; what are schools actually providing – educationally, holistically, health wise, or in terms of child care perhaps? Do kids actually need teachers in order to learn? Or do they need a more nurturing environment in order to reach potential? Can a DIY style home education work just as well as that which schools provide?

The answer to the final question is a definite yes; thousands of home educating families have already proved it. And there is a generation of home schooled youngsters now out in the world working, earning, contributing, and no one would ever know they’d not been to school – as one colleague commented to my eldest.

So there is plenty of proof that home educating is a very successful approach to learning if a child isn’t thriving in school as ours weren’t, as many don’t.

Some just exist, or endure, but is that enough?

A lot of parents say that they’d like to home educate but are worried about the risk. My answer to that would be that we take risks with everything we do, home educating or sending kids to school – certainly with impromptu haircuts and even those at the hairdressers actually!

But whatever we do with our children we can engage in a continual process of review, reassessment, research and analysis of what’s not working and find an approach that does and adapt. Which is more than I can say when I take the risk with a haircut – can hardly stick it back on again if it goes wrong!

We are not going to remain unchanged by this time of lockdown. And perhaps one of the good things that will come of it will be that we review our ideas, values and priorities about many things. The approach to learning and educating our children among them.

This time of school-at-home is not the same as home educating, where you develop a completely different approach to learning than the prescriptive ones schools have to adopt. But if your child has thrived, and you have survived during your time without school in your family life, you might want to reconsider your priorities about schooling and take a more in depth look at the alternative that thousands find fulfilling and successful.

There is plenty of support now to help you!

Are you discombobulated about your children’s learning?

If you’re struggling with your children’s education right now, being mindful in the way you think about it might make you feel a little easier.

Whether you’re doing school-at-home or home educating many of the same issues arise in ‘doing the work’, creating pressures in family life that make everyone feel discombobulated!

I love that word. Discombobulated describes very succinctly what we’re all feeling during this corona crisis. It’s defined as confused and disconcerted. Fits the bill, doesn’t it?

And I imagine many parents are discombobulated about their children’s education right now, both those doing school-set tasks at home and those who were already home educating for whom the lockdown is just as inhibiting.

Some of our feelings are caused by the pressure that we put upon ourselves when we’re not mindful of the way we think about it.

For example; think about the school day. Parents tend to think about kids in school doing useful stuff from 9 am til 3 pm but it doesn’t exactly work like that. During those hours there is a lot of moving about, messing about, distractions, disruptions, wandering attention and general procrastination and time wasting. I averaged it once in a classroom; the children actually only get about 7 minutes an hour of constructive time! So if you’re pressurising your child to do 9 til 3 non stop ‘work’ because that’s what you think they do in school I should stop. Whether you’re home educating or doing school-at-home your child will work more quickly through stuff and will have a lot more time for other valuable pursuits which contribute to their educational advancement in ways you’d never imagine!

Another example, thinking about the basics; the maths, english and science done in schools is designed to be done in schools and in such a way it can be measured. This can make it dull and the children switch off from seeing them as interesting subjects. However maths, english and science come up in everyday life at home all the time in much more relevant ways. For example, budgeting (maths) is a constant consideration (and essential life skill). Messaging, searching online, reading anything, comics, any form of writing like lists for example (not forgetting drawing and colouring are excellent for practising skills involved in writing) all increase the use and understanding of vocabulary and language as do discussions and chats – all useful literacy practice. And we are involved in science all the time in everything we do if you just notice – and use it as a starting point for investigation. We have bodies – biology. We use stuff and live in stuff which all originated at some point from the earth (materials, properties, sources etc). Not only do we have a virus crisis (what’s a virus?) we have a planetary crisis – the planet being one of the most important subjects for scientific research. Do you see what I mean? Scientific questioning and discussion develops a scientific mind as much as anything you might do in a workbook – and it’s real. Making maths english and science relevant to the youngsters’ lives through real stuff is as valuable as the maths, english and science you do on the curriculum. Be innovative about how you tackle it; relating it to life makes it more interesting and doable.

And finally be mindful of the idea that everything you do has the potential to be educative; your family interaction, discussions, contact by tech, cooking, organising, getting your exercise, playing, looking after yourself, managing life together, clapping the NHS. All builds skills, mental, physical, life skills – all has a worth.

This is a time of trauma for everyone. No one needs added pressure brought by needless worry about ‘school work’ or dull academic exercises.

We are all discombobulated! Many of our comfort blankets are gone and we’re all having to work life out in new ways for the time being. Fretting about academics will not help. And is not necessary for I bet that when the kids are in their twenties you’ll never even notice the school days they missed or this time of home schooling – however you’re doing it!

Family harmony, security, nurture and getting through as happily as you can are more important than academics right now. Far better the children remember a happy time of family learning together than the pressure of being forced to do stuff that’s less than relevant in this discombobulated time. Not forgetting that even discombobulated, and how you tackle it, can be educational!

So I suggest you take the pressure of yourselves – and the kids – and rethink it!

Don’t be put off Home Educating; it’s not the same as school at home!

The school closures have completely changed family life. And made it very hard for many I imagine. Must be challenging trying to get the kids to do school work at home. Like permanent homework and I know how hard some parents find that!

As a former home educator you’d think I could offer some advice on how to tackle it. But I can’t really, apart from what’s in the last few blogs, and that’s because home educators rarely do school-at-home.

School-at-home; i.e. following a prescriptive set of tasks set by schools designed to do in a school environment, is wildly different to the learning life you get into when you home educate. Even the title home education, as opposed to home school, defines a difference. (Explained here)

Home Educating has a completely different ethos of learning, educating and raising a child. Basically it’s a DIY education, not one doing school work hand outs, which is what many are doing now and think of as home educating. And contrary to what people think about the kids being tied to apron strings it makes for a more self directed, independent and diversely thinking learner and adult and is something the whole family can get involved in which in no way represents the prescriptive teaching of a classroom.

However, if this period of doing without school has made you want to reconsider home educating – and you can do that whatever age your children are – then there are three of my books that take a deeper look at it.

Learning Without School Home Education’ answers all of the common questions about it; how to start, what it’s like, how kids learn, what about socialisation, what about tests and exams etc.

A Funny Kind of Education’ is an autobiographical story which illustrates the journey into and through the home educating life. It’s an easy, fun, family read, rather than an educational tome of a book no one wants to read, but still has lots of tips and thought provoking ideas that’ll set you thinking. This is the book that many have told me convinced them they wanted to home educate. Some lovely reviews on Amazon!

A Home Education Notebook – to encourage and inspire’ is a collection of pieces which again address all the common issues that home educating families face as they progress into it, with reassuring tips and stories from one who’s been there and how they dealt with it. A Home Ed bedside book it’s been called!

The ‘My Books’ page on this site gives more details and snippets from the books too. They’re all available on Amazon.

Meanwhile you might also find my little YouTube talk interesting.

So take a look and let me know what you think – and what you decide. If you message me in the comments below I always try and respond. I also have a Facebook page which I respond to when I get round to it!

Meanwhile, I hope you and the kids are doing okay and finding ways to survive! It’s just as tough for current home educators not going out as, also contrary to what people generally think, home education is more out of the home than in it!

So we’re all waiting for a lift in Lockdown!

For when you’re losing the will…

I’m finding it tough now! I’m sure you’re the same. Some days I get to the point where I’ve lost the will to be cheerful or motivated.

Bet you know the feeling? Which is what prompted me to doodle this.

Feel free to share…

This Lockdown – or rather the awful pandemic – is a catastrophic challenge for us all, whoever we are, whatever we do. Perhaps a way to help ourselves is by being realistic: We’re not going to manage upbeat, or busy, or motivated all the time as I’ve been trying to. Some days just have to be got through.

Staying in is hard, despite sweet moments we may have. It’s incredibly demanding mentally and spiritually being home based all the time. Our resilience will wear thin at times, without the dilution of going out.

I especially feel for those who are not used to it and the kids who are used to school. Some families, who are not used to being together so much like home educators are, perhaps have it doubly tough. However, home educators have it tough too because they can’t go out as they’re used to. Everyone’s facing challenges if for different reasons.

But we’ve all got to screw up the courage to keep going from somewhere for a very important reason; because the kids will learn how from you. And courage and endurance are important life skills.

So think how you’re going to do it – when you can, that is.

If your children are working at their school stuff online help them keep motivated by talking about how you’d push through your tricky bits. Perhaps you promise yourself a walk/treat/cuppa/Netflicks when you’ve worked for an hour, for example, or start the day with warming exercises or a good dance and a giggle to get you going. Or by discussing what you’re going to enjoy when the tough bit’s done. Explain how you do it at work.

Having conversations in the family about motivation and how to energise it will help your kids learn about motivation and getting through boring bits, another essential life skill.

If you’re a home educating family already used to working in a DIY or self-directed way maybe there are school kids you know who could link up with yours online and share what you’re doing. That’ll help yours keep motivated too.

Children are inspired, remember, not so much by being taught but by the experience of seeing how others tackle and overcome challenges.

This closeted time is a tough one. For all the family. It’s a time for being inventive about living and working together – and surviving amicably with as little damage as possible! Even the bad days.

But on those days remember what it says above – some days it’s enough just to get through and stay well. And even the ability to do that, will be teaching your children something!

Why you shouldn’t worry about ‘getting behind’

It’s threatened by schools constantly. A kind of subversive blackmail to keep parents in check. Keep them sending their kids to school so they can be kept on the conveyor belt of test scores, thus keeping schools high up the dreadful league table competition that the business of education has become.

Did you realise that’s what the education system is mainly about?

The irony is: this is NOT a complete education.

And the tragedy is that this propaganda – this threat of ‘getting behind’ – has made parents desperately afraid; has created at FOMO of education, if you like!

However, true education has no ‘in front’ or ‘behind’. It’s the competitive and political system which has created it. A system which has become less about what’s good for the child and more about what’s good for the politics.

It doesn’t happen so much when home educating because most home educators treat education as something different from the prescriptive hot-house process based around child control and mass teaching. They generally see education as a personal process that a) is for the whole development of an individual not just the academic and b) doesn’t have to measured or scored or graded in order to be successful. And they’re proving this approach works.

But that aside, in these unprecedented times, when everyone’s in the same boat, it’s therefore true that no one is really missing out or getting behind.

What’s more important to focus on is addressing the trauma that everyone’s going through, particularly the children, with the unsettling disturbance of what they knew to be life, and having the concept of mortality brought much closer.

In fact, we’re all suffering a major emotional trauma that has disrupted work, family, life as we know it. And this is what we need to be nurturing ourselves and our children through, not worrying about getting educationally ‘behind.

Even more importantly; this time now is an education in itself.

It doesn’t look like the grade getting, measured process that most parents equate with education, but it is building many personal skills which are an essential element of it and without which grades are of no use at all.

I do understand that this is hard for many parents unfamiliar with this way of thinking to grasp. But maybe now’s the time.

The value of education, and what use it is beyond school, is not only based in grades. It’s also based in the learner’s ability to apply themselves to living and earning and working with others. To do this they need a whole range of non-academic skills; relationships skills, conversational skills, empathy, self-motivation, social skills, confidence, budgeting skills, respect, creative skills – not just for creative activities but to think creatively enough to solve challenges life throws at you, this current crisis being a great example. We’re all having to think creatively, beyond what we normally do, in order to get through it.

This time at home away from the normal institutions, is an opportunity for your children to develop those other aspects of themselves, through their personal pursuits at home and the way you respond to this crisis and live together as a family, that they never get the chance to develop in the treadmill of school. Everything they do out of school is as valuable to their development personally and educationally as that which they do academically.

So don’t worry about ‘getting behind’. Rethink this propaganda – which is what this concept is to keep parents and kids doing what the government wants – and take the opportunity to rethink what are your priorities for the education of your children and how those might be best facilitated. And trust that time will even it all out anyway.

And take care of yourselves whilst you do. Your children are learning from you!

(Scroll down the ‘About Home Education’ page to read about a philosophy of education)

So what are you going to do with the kids today?

I may be a home educator at heart but I really feel for the children who are missing school and contact with their friends. It’ll be a hard adjustment for them, for all the family.

Of course, it is also the same for the home educated kids who are also now isolated. Because despite what most parents generally think, home educating involves being out as much as in; seeing friends, going places, using resources in the community, etc. In fact they probably do that more than school kids who are stuck in one venue all the time.

Everyone will be adjusting. We’re all stuck at home – well – if you’re taking your responsibility seriously.

So maybe now’s the time to rethink the value of home based things.

Obviously we have wonderful digital connections to fall back on. But life shouldn’t be all about staring at your phone. Instead it’s a good time to connect with those in the house, find things you can enjoy together, use your resourcefulness to make your home come alive by the things you do in it. Become ingenuous with whatever’s to hand. It’ll bring a homely flavour to your house which may have become jaded. It’ll restrengthen connections (although it may take a while).

As for ‘education’; as I said before everything is educational as it stimulates and increases skills, mental and physical. You may not be aware of the educational value of cooking for example but it involves maths (weighing, measuring, calculation, understanding temperatures, computation and understanding scales, calibration, estimation, time etc.) language (reading, interpreting recipes, following instructions, language, abbreviations, vocabulary etc) science (changing states of substances like cake becoming solid, heat conduction, food stuffs and materials which can withstand it, etc) As well as all the conversations. All these skills can be transferred to academic learning later on, will be better remembered as they’ve been experienced, and more importantly they’re useful for life!

So don’t think domestic things are separate from educational things. It’s all valuable. So get doing, using ideas online if you’re stuck.

Got any gadgets for the kids to dismantle? They love it and learn a lot!

Here are some things you might do or encourage the kids to:

Cook or bake something.

Discuss something – especially topics you wouldn’t normally.

Create something – be creative with whatever stuff you have to hand. (A blog on its value here)

Read something.

Make something you haven’t made before.

Try and mend something.

Write something.

Debate something.

Draw something.

Construct something.

Film or record something.

Rearrange something.

Research something.

Re-purpose something.

Explore something. (Probably online at this point!)

Get moving (physically in the house if not out)

Grow something.

Do something you haven’t done before.

Doing a variety of these things will be purposeful and developmental in ways you’ll not even be aware of. So get busy, enjoy your home time, and forget trying to ‘educate’ for the time being. The kids will be learning all the time!

How will you respond this Easter?

This is such a strange and challenging time. We’re going to have to dig deeper than ever into our personal resources to respond and cope with these unprecedented circumstances.

Hopefully we will learn something about ourselves by the end of it. It’s bound to change us. Has changed us already – I know my appreciation of many simple things has increased as we do without many of the things we took for granted, like popping to the shop for chocolate!

Ours have grown up now, but I can still remember how difficult it can be at times cloistered in with small children not able to get out. I know many families would occupy their time with a trip to the shops just to buy some non-essential that they don’t need. Out of the question now obviously.

But actually, what children crave – even as much as those chocolate eggs – is the engaged time and attention of their loving adult.

Many parents bemoan the fact they never have time in their lives for that. Many children feel the pinch of life without it.

So maybe that’s a good aspect of being home bound right now. You can do something about it. Children learn as much from the time and attention of an engaged adult as anything else on any curriculum!

And it’s the perfect time to give some effort to making Easter rather than buying it.

It doesn’t have to cost, if you get resourceful with whatever you have in the house. Exercise their minds and problem solving skills by giving up thinking; ‘we need to buy this, this and this’ and start thinking ‘how can we make this with the resources we already have?’

For example, paint or felt tip eggs, or crumpled up paper can make eggs to hang up, a coat hanger would suffice to hang them on although I bet you’ll come up with something better than that. Bunting can be made with old magazines, books you’ll never use again, even old clothes – you don’t have to sew it, think of another way to put it together. Get resourceful with creating rather than buying, get creating this Easter rather than consuming.

And when you get out for the groceries, get the ingredients for a simple cake.

Making a cake together is not about the cake.

Making a cake with kids can be tricky, unless you change your agenda. Your agenda is not to make a perfect cake. Your agenda is to make some happy memories with them about the resourceful way you dealt with this crisis and the things you came up with. Stir your cake with fun and affection and lick your sticky fingers with relish over the sweet times you made together.

You are teaching the kids about resilience and resourcefulness. Both are skills that will be useful to them time and time again throughout their life long after this crisis is over.

We can spend the Easter bemoaning the things we’d usually do that we now cannot. Or we can spend the Easter creating something that’s more important than baking a cake; making good memories that will stay with the youngsters forever.

Hope you stay well and manage a Happy Easter. And if you come up with some good ideas – please share them in the comments below!