Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday 18 March, Phillip Evitt, Headmaster at Highfield School, shares his advice to parents at this unpredictable time.
The closure of schools is unsettling and disappointing news; however, it is not unexpected and many schools will have already taken steps to help prepare for this eventuality. It is important to note that this should be the closure of the physical buildings and not the shutting down of the schools’ operations.
At present, the guidance is that schools will be closed ‘until further notice’. At Highfield and Brookham Schools, we will of course be ready to open our doors and carry on as normal, with the children back where they belong, as soon as we are permitted to do so. In the meantime, teachers across the UK will all relish the challenge of providing an inspirational curriculum via remote learning.
While teachers prepare their curriculum provisions, please consider the following thoughts on how you can support your children at home:
- Try to read every day with your children for at least 20 minutes, ideally longer. Discuss what they are reading with them. Consider their favourite characters, ask them what they think will happen next. Ask them what they are enjoying about the story so far.
- Ask them about the computer games they might be playing – this could be your opportunity to finally grasp what Fortnite is all about. Do consider the amount of screen time you allow your children and please do keep a close eye on what they are up to online.
- For those of you who would like to learn more about Internet safety and protecting your children online, the following sites are extremely helpful: saferinternet.org.uk, www.gooseberryplanet.com, www.thinkuknow.co.uk and www.parentzone.org.uk
- Many children will already be familiar with a number of online resources for which they may have log-ins for.
- Cook with your children – measuring ingredients, adapting ingredients is great for maths!
- Now could be the time to plan and plant a garden of their own, if space permits. It is incredibly rewarding to grow plants, especially if it is something the children could prepare and eat. Cress is an easy thing to get started with and all you need is a window sill.
- Introduce them to a new word every day. Work with them to remember how to spell it and what it means. Can they remember all the new words at the end of the week?
- Play quick games, memory games, card games and board games.
- Allow the children to listen to audio books, but discuss them with them. Ask them to recount the plot. They could draw a picture of what they think the characters look like.
- Encourage them to paint, draw or make things; they will have had wonderful grounding in this from their art and D.T lessons at school.
- Encourage them to make a scrapbook or to keep a diary.
- Encourage them to write stories of their own. These could be inspired by ones they have already read – could they write the missing chapter of Harry Potter?
Above all, we cannot stress enough the importance of routine when working at home as well as fitting in some exercise. Try to ear-mark specific times for the children to work and play.
We are facing times of unprecedented challenge, but I am confident, given all I know and love about teaching these are challenges that by working together and remaining strongly connected we can rise to and overcome. Collaboration, patience and trust will be vital in the times ahead if we are to ensure that children continue to flourish, even though they are temporarily denied access to our magical environment.