This is a really strange time but I wanted to come on here to share some tips and ideas that might make the next few weeks at home a little more manageable. Maybe some of them will be useful for you and maybe some won’t work so pick and choose to best suit your children – you know them best! In my school we are meant to be off Monday and Tuesday anyway so its still important that the children have a rest.
While I think it is absolutely brilliant to see so many companies, teachers and early childhood educators sharing ideas and activities for you to use at home, I do also find that it can be totally overwhelming and can lead to parents and guardians wondering if they are doing enough or comparing themselves to other parents. You know your child best – you know what they need and what works best for them so do it your own way. Don’t be under any pressure to complete every single fantastic idea that you see. Pick and choose what you think will work best for you and your family.
Share the information (in a child friendly way)
A lot of children will really benefit from being informed about what is happening. Why are schools closed? Why are we asked not to go to the playground or to crowded places? What will happen if we get Corona Virus? Why can’t we go and visit granny and Grandad?
Some useful videos and resources
Let them be kids
This is a scary time for everyone. It’s strange to be working from home and not really sure when this will all be over. Our ‘normal’ day to day routines are completely changed so it’s really important to remember this – be kind to yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself to perform or meet the same goals and targets you might be able to achieve at work. The same goes for the children. This is a tricky time for them – I’d imagine the initial delight of having 2 weeks off school has worn off a bit as they are not able to just carry on as normal, meeting and playing with friends and going to G.A.A. or rugby or gymnastics. Let them have time to just be kids as they try to make sense of what is happening and process the changes to their normal lives.
- Children need routine – no matter how laid back they may seem. It is really important to maintain some sense of normal for them throughout the time they are off school and can’t go to training etc.
- Make a timetable with them so they know what to expect each day. Include a nice
- This can be as simple as a wake up time each morning and a bedtime at night. This is not the same as the holidays.
- Try to keep screen time limited to the normal amount that you usually would allow. (A little extra won’t do any harm but I would try to stick to a limit where possible.)
- Some school work is likely to be sent home from the child’s teacher. Have a set time each day where the child can complete this work.
- Exercise is really important – every day – whether its a run/jog, a youtube workout or a quick cycle around the estate – try to get outside if possible.
- Chores/jobs around the house
- Family time/ games etc.
- Try to complete the work that has been assigned by your child’s teacher.
- Use the time to revise what the child has learned already and then maybe give them some challenges based on what they’ve learned.
- Teach your child ‘real life’ skills – baking and cooking, sewing on a button, putting on a wash, folding laundry, ironing, budgeting, money, telling the time, cleaning etc.
Some examples of activities
I’m basing these activities based on things you might find in your house rather than having to go out and buy different materials. I’ll put together little packs of resources and share resources and ideas I’ve found online too. (From Wednesday I’ll have a mini maths activity on my instagram page which you can find here)
- Forwards (from 1 or from another given number)
- Backwards (from 1 or from another given number)
- In 2’s/ 5’s/ 10’s etc.
- Objects/ toys
- Estimating and then counting a set of books or teddies etc.
This is one of the most important areas in Maths. If children have a good understanding of place value then this will help them with different operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).
Using a deck of cards or magnetic numbers
- Pick out 2/3 cards (depending on the age of your child)
- What’s the biggest number you can make?
- What’s the smallest number you can make?
Real life Maths pack – this is a pack of material suitable for 3rd to 6th class. (The first few ideas could be used with younger classes too).
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Reading is key – read a range of fiction and non fiction texts. Read together or encourage your child to read independently.
- Predict what might happen in the next chapter
- Design a new cover for the book
- Write a book review
- Summarise the book/ chapter in 100 words or less
- Complete a character profile (draw the character on a piece of paper and write words to describe the character around the drawing – find evidence to back up what adjectives you use)
- Go on a noun hunt/verb hunt/ adjective hunt in one chapter
- Create a quiz based on the book
- Write a letter to the author
Talk about what is happening around the world in relation to Corona Virus. Look at the ‘good news’ stories as well as the news and have discussions about different things.
- Look at pictures from around the world and have a chat about them
- Talk about the people who are helping us at this time (nurses, doctors, truck drivers, Gardaí, ambulance drivers, supermarket workers, scientists, the government, journalists, pharmacists, those working in factories, coffee shops, hotels and hundreds of other people)
- Talk about the positives of working from home/ online schooling and the negatives
- A game my class love – we call it Categories but it is really brilliant for quick recall so a topic or category is chosen e.g. colours and your child then has to list as many as they can. To make it a game you could write down a list of topics and then play together or siblings could play together and take it in turns to name something that fits with the category. It keeps going until someone can’t think of one (only 3-5 seconds allowed for thinking).
- FaceTime or video call family members and friends you can’t be with at the moment
- Websites such as Pobble365 are fantastic – there is a new photo shared daily and lots of ideas for discussion
Below are just a few ideas or topics your child could write about
For younger children – revising and practising the letters they have been taught at school
- Make a cake – write the instructions (procedure writing)
- How to wash your hands (procedure writing)
- A letter to Boris Johnson on why schools should be closed in the U.K. (persuasive writing)
- A letter of thanks to the local supermarket workers/ nurses/ doctors/ truck drivers and everyone who is helping us at this time (letter writing)
- A diary about this time (This could be written or it could be a video diary but it will be something to look back on in the future so I would definitely encourage it) (Recount writing)
- Story – for inspiration give your child a character, setting and problem/event and let them create a story about it (narrative writing)
- Write a letter to grandparents or other relatives who you can’t see at the moment (if you’re worried about going to post it etc. take a photo of the handwritten note and send it by message/WhatsApp or email and ask them to write back by letter too)
Beatha teanga í a labhairt! If possible talk to your children in Irish. I put this video on key phrases for the theme of Mé Féin together last year so this would be a great place to start!
Choose 2/3 phrases to learn and practice each day!
- Learn about the local area – walk around the local area, investigate where the names of estates/ streets came from. What are the local landmarks or tourist attractions? Create a brochure advertising the local area.
- Go on a nature walk – what sounds can you hear? what birds can you see? what trees do you recognise? what signs of spring do you notice?
- Learn about the counties of Ireland. Which counties are close to where you live? Complete a project on a county in Ireland
- Learn the capitals of European countries
- STEM Activities (see below)
- Listen to a piece of music and write about it – what does it remind you of? how does it make you feel?
- Learn a song that your parents loved when they were your age? 5 years ago?
- Listen to the different instruments of the orchestra
- Listen to a variety of different pieces of music
- Draw scenes from the book you’re reading
- Create a monster using recycled materials
- Using an old shoebox create your dream bedroom (use recycled materials or draw)
- Create a rollercoaster using recycled materials
- Walk, jog, run, cycle around your local area.
- Create an obstacle course in your house or back garden.
- Youtube/Go Noodle
- Create a list of movement breaks
I think during this period of time it is really important that children have a place to go for some independent time and space. I can imagine that it may feel a bit cramped in lots of houses with everyone working at home but having a space or a time where your child can go to just have 10-15 minutes of time on their own is really important.
Continue with your usual family routines where possible. Have breakfast/dinner together, play board games or watch TV, do a workout together.