Exhausted mother with three kids

Home-School Hell

Dear Anna, 

My kids’ school is closed because of Covid. My partner is a key worker and so it is my job to home-school them. On top of this, my parents are recovering from coronavirus. I’m doing their shopping and cleaning, as well working evening shifts in my local supermarket. I have no idea how I’m meant to juggle everything! I feel like I’m failing my kids and their education. Help!

Heidi, Bedfordshire

Dear Heidi

Wow. It sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. Please remember that you are doing your best – none of us are super-human and we can only do so much. Home-schooling is a minefield and one that many parents are struggling with, so you shouldn’t feel alone. 

It’s also great news that your parents are in recovery from the virus – but understandably that comes with additional pressures. 

Let’s look at home-schooling first. The government has published guidance and support for parents here. There’s specific information depending on how old your children are, as well as advice supporting their mental health. 

You’re not a teacher and nobody expects you to be. But there are some simple, practical things you can do to help your children learn independently. (This should also free you up to do everything else on your list!) 

  1. Help your child organise their time

Establishing a structure or routine for your child’s day will benefit them and you. Don’t worry about trying to maintain the full routine your child had at school – this isn’t realistic. But you could try splitting work up into tasks and time-limits, factoring in breaks and a set time for some physical activity (if you don’t have outdoor space try an online PE video like Joe Wicks). Drawing up a timetable at the start of each week will at least act as a guide – even if your child doesn’t always stick to it.

  1. Try to stick to normal, regular bed times (and meal times)
  2. If your child is working from a digital device, make sure parental controls are set up. You can also talk to them about online safety. This website has information for parents about keeping your child safe, as well as what you can do if you are ever concerned.  

As well as the work from your children’s school, make the most of online resources. This way your children can learn independently without much help from you. The BBC has a range of educational videos, quizzes and activities for all ages – check out bbc.co.uk/bitesize 

There’s also a free helpline called Starline which you can call on 0330 313 9162. Starline provides support and advice to parents on home learning during the coronavirus outbreak.

Remember this is only temporary and things will return to some sort of normality at some point. In the meantime, don’t be too hard on yourself!

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