National lockdown has seen children out of school for months on end. What the full impact of this will be on well-being and educational outcomes is yet to be seen – but there are many lessons that schools and parents have learnt about home learning (the hard way). Annabel from Ask A Teacher and Bella Learning Games shares what she’s learnt about the home classroom.
- We’ve found out how our children really feel about school.
Overwhelmingly, parents I hear from sit in one of two camps. Either, their child is desperate to get back to school – or they are desperate not to. For many children, schools closures have been a welcome opportunity for breathing space. Often, these are pupils who feel ostracised by the school system – those who are bullied, find social connections difficult or, most commonly – those with additional needs like dyslexia or with ASD. Many of these students have been allowed to learn in their own way and at their own pace – and thrived. Having seen these positive effects, some of these families are now considering full-time homeschooling.
Conversely, there are other children who are have crumbled without the routine and social interaction that school offers. They have found one-to-one learning at home boring and craved the classroom. These families can’t wait until normality resumes and schools are re-opened full time. I’ve heard stories of students going back to the classroom and coming home electric with joy. For these kids, school is their happy place.
2. Being a teacher is HARD – especially if you’re working from home!
Home-schooling has brought with it crying, tantrums, arguments and point blank refusals – and this is just the parents! All over social media, parents talk about the hair-tearing frustration that comes with trying to educate your own child. Around mid-April, proclamations appeared from Mums (and yes… it has been mainly Mums) that they were ‘giving up’ on any sort of structured learning. Working from home AND home-schooling has been deemed nearly impossible and admiration for the teaching profession has grown (at least from parents anyway). Parents have also complained about a lack of understanding of the curriculum – not to mention the money spent on printers, ink and workbooks.
3. Our state schools have been let down by the government – meaning the poorest lose out again.
The government has been slow to support schools in this time. While private schools were able to almost immediately offer full-time online learning, chronically under-funded state schools have not been so lucky. Red tape, lack of technological capacity and clarity have meant that both schools and families have felt set adrift without support. As usual, the most deprived, without the space, internet access and support to home-school have missed out. I’m yet to hear of a school who received any of the promised laptops.
Coupled with the disdain that teachers and schools were treated with by ministers and media once schools were set to open – and the complete lack of national plan, the lockdown has re-iterated that England does not value education as it should.
4. We worry about mental health more than test results.
One positive part of the closures is that parents and schools are united in their belief that the mental well-being of the child is a priority at this time and that the academic side can wait. Teaching groups on Facebook are full of educators sharing ideas of how they can work on mental health in their classrooms and parents have put bonding, quality time and the outdoors at the heart of their schedules. Let’s hope that we will be allowed the space to continue this good work in September.
5. We need a plan going forward.
Experiences of families during this time have not been uniform and a lack of cohesion or plan has left us all struggling. What we need is a clear plan moving forward that will limit as much as possible the damage that pupils will face from this unusual time. How will children catch up? Will expectations and assessments stay the same? How can we help parents to help their children over the summer? Will the tuition come to fruition? (!) And – of course – what if it happens again, which isn’t out of the realms of possibility? We need to learn the lessons of lockdown and be ready for whatever the future holds.
Bella Learning Games offers printable games packs for families that link directly to the curriculum and encourage connection and fun. Like our page on Facebook @bellalearninggames
Schools find out more here: I’m a school – tell me more about your home learning games!
Educators might also be interested in our FREE WEBINAR: Effective Home Learning For Summer 2020
Parents find out more here: I’m a parent – tell me more about your home learning games!