Homework during COVID-19 closure

Dear Parents and Carers,

Firstly, thank you for the very supportive approach that you have taken during these exceptionally challenging times. The sense of community has been very strong.

I am also very proud of my staff. In 48 hours we have organised a home learning project and a childcare project. Like all keyworkers, school staff are providing essential support during difficult times.

The purpose of setting our homework is to continue that sense of community, so that when school reopens, we all have a shared experience.

Homework

Each child will be bringing home an exercise book that they can use as a scrap book to gather work that they complete.

Our main homework will be set by the class teacher to the children in their class using Purple Mash:

https://www.purplemash.com/login/

With their scrapbook each child will be bringing home a letter explaining how to log in.

Each day, at around 10 o’clock, class teachers will post links to work.

Some children will benefit from having a routine and so we plan to set work that will support you in creating a routine.

The first activity will be a ‘wake and shake’ short physical session. We will be using links to ‘Super Movers’ for this.

Maths work will be set with a link to the relevant section on the White Rose website. We use the White Rose scheme in school so this will provide continuity. There are short explanatory videos to accompany the work.

English work will be links Reading or a Writing activity.

If this were a normal school day, children would then break for lunch.

In the afternoon, teachers have prepared a list of open-ended activities which children can work on in their scrapbooks. These have been pasted inside their scrapbooks. New grids will be sent out periodically.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE EQUIPMENT TO ACCESS PURPLE MASH PLEASE EMAIL THE SCHOOL OFFICE. We will prepare a pack of work for you that will be available to collect on Monday.

The limitations

The best type of learning takes place when a teacher is with your child. In these challenging times this is not possible. The work that we are setting is age-appropriate but your child’s interaction with it is not going to be the same without a qualified professional to guide them.

The best form of assessment for learning is a direct conversation with a child.

This is not going to take place, nor are going to collect in work to assess. It could be many weeks before school opens again. Our priority will be organising the days ahead and we will not have the capacity to look back on this work.

We are learning as we go along. There will be technical hitches. We are already experiencing some of these as teachers!

We will be meeting as a staff in a fortnight to review how the system has worked and make any necessary changes.

And finally…

These aren’t my words, but they are wise ones:

You might be inclined to create a minute by minute schedule for your children. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing…

Our children are just as scared as we are right now. Our children not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before.

Although the idea of being off of school for weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like the summer holiday, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behaviour issues with your children. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What children need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect timetable and show your love a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake biscuits and paint pictures. Play board games and watch films. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single child is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all catch up and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your children because they don’t want to do maths. Don’t scream at your children for not following the timetable. Don’t set hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your children’s mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those weeks. So keep that in mind, every single day.