This month we checked in with one of our fantastic tutors, Karima Riley, who has been juggling home and work life under lockdown with her three children, George (Y3), Isabella (Y4), and Emily (Y6).
Karima’s top tips for home schooling young children:
- It’s ok to deviate from the school resources. Online resources are plentiful – there is so much out there and it’s great for your children to try something different
- Let your child research and write about what they are interested in – it’s a great way to engage them. George loves ships for example!
- Google is your friend. Let your children go on a journey to find the answers online. My children use a child-friendly version of Google and it keeps them busy for hours!
- If you see your child is capable of doing more – by all means stretch them!
- Encourage your children to read books to explore different concepts and just read for fun
- Target My Maths books are great for short tasks and quizzes and gives them time to work on targeted maths revision every day
What does your family’s daily routine look like?
Firstly, we always try to get up early to mimic the school week. The children have different routines so I try to work around them and let them choose the study times that work for them. Isabella likes to get up a little later, whereas George and Emily are early risers so they are ready to go from around 8am. They work until lunch time every day, always with a morning break for around 15-30 minutes. If I’m lucky and they are feeling exceptionally motivated after lunch, they continue work, but as it’s got a little hotter, they spend more time in the garden in the afternoon and have a break from learning. The afternoon has been valuable time for art, science experiments, baking, doing jobs around the house and things like painting furniture – all of which I see as an important part of education too. During the school week, the children do not stay up late to ensure they have a school-like routine. They all go to bed no later than 9pm.
What resources having you been using?
I have the school resources to create structure for the children during their mornings and I block out some time to attend to each child and their different needs.
For Maths we start with Times Table Rockstars, a times table app for 10-30 minutes a day. They absolutely love it. It’s quick and easy to use. Mymaths.co.uk is extremely useful, there are tests on there that we use everyday. It’s easy to give them small tasks during this time so I can do other things in the household, and support as and when it’s needed.
For English spag.com is fantastic for spelling, grammar and punctuation exercises that they access every day and then I tackle English using the school’s resources. If I do not feel it would benefit them, I fill that time with something else. We just adapt everyday.
My husband loves History so we have been using his knowledge to ignite their interest and have regular discussions about historical events and the children will then go off and do the research themselves.
What have you learnt from this time at home with your children?
I definitely value the role of teachers and the education system much more, and also the value of tuition as a tool for targeted intervention and support. I had always felt that my children could be pushed and challenged more but now I appreciate the work that goes into creating a school day for them.
I am really looking forward to the children going back to school because I feel the school system is structured and extremely important. It means I can also do what I love best and that is tutoring for TalentEd!
What have been some of the positives during this time?
Of course it’s been lovely to spend more time with the kids. The girls have been extremely helpful around the house. They are doing painting projects in the garden, making cups of tea (which was unheard of before!), helping out around the house with chores, and making little lunches. All three children have become a little bit more independent and are learning things they wouldn’t have learnt in school.
Is there anything you’ve found to be particularly challenging?
For me, it’s having three different attainment levels to attend to. With three children in the house at the same time needing support, guidance and challenge – it can be a struggle. Being a teacher myself I also have very high expectations, meaning I put lots of pressure on myself to do the best in a school day – which isn’t always possible. I am parent, home maker, house wife, cleaner. Of course, my husband helps and is also supporting the children, but he is working full time.
Rewards and screen time have worked well if they do certain tasks, as this is what motivates them at times. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s about adapting and trying to do your best.