Being both a parent and teacher at this time has really made me reflect on what parents actually need during these unprecedented times.
Ten weeks is a long time! We need to reassure parents that they are doing an amazing job.
Knowing though what to suggest to parents can be ‘tricky’ at the best of times so first, let’s stop and reflect on what we think about ‘home schooling.’
Personally, I would like to call home schooling ‘home learning’ or ‘learning from home’ because children will be continuously learning at home.
It is important to let your parents know and understand that their child’s brain grows the fastest in the first five years of their life and that their roles as parents are so crucial in their child’s development.
Together with reassuring them that through every interaction they have with their child, their child is learning.
They may think that they are not doing enough so here are my five top tips to reassure your parents that they are all doing a fantastic job during these unprecedented times.
As a parent myself, on a daily basis I have to remind myself of these too!
Parents put pressure on themselves as they know that it is important to spend time with their children. It is important to reassure parents that having ‘quality time’ with their children will make the difference.
It is letting parents know that it is ok if they can’t play with their children all of the time, as they juggle work and older or younger siblings. Children need time to follow their interests and get really involved in their learning.
Children need to develop their independence, resilience and perseverance. It is ok for them to:
- Day dream
- Be bored – it helps them to decide for themselves and make decisions
It’s important for parents to prioritise the time they can spend with their children, for example, making time to go for their daily exercise. This will support their child’s physical health and the parents too.
When providing ideas for parents to support their children at home please consider the ‘time’ it will take to do the activities and the resources that would be available.
Consider activities that link back to the prime areas of learning.
- Personal, Social and Emotional development
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
Knowing about the EYFS does really support me as a parent when I have a day of ‘mum guilt’!
Here are just some examples:
- Personal, social and emotional development – I think, “well he has had the confidence to choose what to do by himself, making stronger relationship with his brother, managed his feelings when I couldn’t play with him but then understood when I could, spoke on ‘What app’ to his Uncle”
- Physical development – “he played football in the garden, went on his bike for his daily exercise, able to go to the toilet dependently, getting dressed on his own, picking his toys up”
- Communication and language – “He played hide and seek, two bed time stories, speaking and listening to mum and his brother and able to take turns in conversation, played eye spy when looking out of the window, heard a helicopter in the sky, sang ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ when climbing the stairs.”
Like I mentioned before, please be mindful when providing ideas for parents, link them to the prime areas and reassure them that daily their children will be learning without them even realising!
This now bring me onto the importance of talk…
2. Talk – Communication, communication and more communication!
Parents mustn’t underestimate the power of talk with their children.
They may be thinking “I am so worried that I am not teaching my 3 year old anything”. Reassure them by letting them know that during everyday interactions, they are ‘teaching’ their children.
Let’s look at ‘talk’ and how those everyday experiences are building up their vocabulary;
- Going for a walk – talking about the houses, cars, playing eye spy
- Bed time story – talking about words that they may not know, understanding what had happened in the story
- Watching their favourite programme or a film on TV – talking about what is happening, singing songs together
- Bath time – using their senses, encouraging talk e.g. what can they smell, how does the water feel? Pretending to be a scuba diver?
Every day experiences aren’t always possible at the moment due to lockdown so it’s all about trying to capture those opportunities within the home.
It is really important that parents know that there are lots they are doing to support their child’s language development without even knowing it.
Share the Hungry Minds website with your parents as it provides videos and fun activities that parents can do to develop communication with their children from birth to five.
All the videos on the site are following the children’s interests and it is important that parents know the value of this and how it is so important to allow their child to lead the learning.
3. Follow their interests
Children learn by being engaged and exploring, motivated and being able to make links in their own learning.
As an example, tell parents that finding a snail in the garden or a spider in their home could spark their child’s interests for learning. Suggest what they can then do to support their child’s interest
- Find a book about a snail/spider or ‘google’ about a snail to learn about them
- On YouTube your child can learn how to draw a snail/spider
- Make a snail/spider out of used cereal boxes
Tell parents to take a moment and step back today; to watch their child exploring…
Here is a good article to share with your parents as it explores how following their child’s interests fosters communication skills.
4. Play is how children learn and make sense of the world
Albert Einstein once wrote – ‘Play is the highest form of research’.
Being a teacher I know that you would agree with this. Some parents though may not know how to play with their children.
It’s ok… just let the parents know that their child will show them what to do!
This article provides information about the ‘power’ of play and provides guidance from birth to five. Some useful information to share!
My son loves playing ‘schools’ and ‘Mummies and babies’ at the moment. I know that he is trying to make sense of what is going on in the world through play.
Please let your parents know not to feel guilty if they can’t always play with their child due to work and other siblings. Children need time by themselves so that they can consolidate, rehearse, explore.
Here is a great article to share with your parents as it provides lots of ideas.
I love one idea of having a laughing contest!
5. Fun for emotional well-being
The final and most important tip for parents…
I can appreciate that during these very unusual times, parents may not feel like having fun but children will be picking up on all their parent’s body language and behaviours, positive and negative.
Telling your parents that showing their child that they are having fun with them will really support their child’s emotional well-being.
My son’s favourite game is ‘hide and seek’ and even though at times I think ‘Oh no, I haven’t got time to play with him’ I then think, ‘No, it is important for me as a parent to have some time out and have fun too’.
When he hides, all I can hear is ‘giggling’. He then makes me laugh because he thinks I do not know where he is.
I then say ‘Oh, I can’t find you?’
He then says. ‘I am here’.
This makes me laugh even more!
Having fun like this not only supports his emotional well-being but mine too. It is sharing with parents that all the things that they are doing with their children, ‘big’ or ‘small’ will be making a difference to their child’s development.
Overall it is about sharing with your parents that as long as their children are feeling safe and secure, they will be learning.
Reassure them that they are all doing an amazing job during these very difficult times.
By providing these ideas and support to parents it will also reassure you that the children you are dearly missing are being supported.
I’d also recommend having a look at this page of our website: Resources For Teachers. Here, we have collated a huge list of resources for you, parents and teachers to help them through this troubling time. Go to the EYFS tab to find ideas for all of the seven areas of learning.
Finally, if you would like any advice during this time, please do get in touch : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please keep safe and well during these times.
About the Author
Serena Caine – Adviser, Services For Education
Serena works as an Education Adviser for Services for Education and over the past ten years she has largely worked on EYFS CPD training, School Improvement and Profile moderation. She became an accredited EYFS profile moderator in 2009 and leads a team of 15 experienced teacher based moderators for the EYFSP statutory duty on behalf of Birmingham LA.
Serena’s began teaching over 25 years ago and has extensive experience, particularly of working with children in the early Years.
She firstly qualified as a Nursery Nurse; then completed a BA (hons) and PGCE in Early Years (0-8) and during her teaching career she taught EYFS, Key stage one and two so has a wide breath of experiences. Due to her interest in education research when she was teaching she completed an action research MA in Education which focused on eyfs and assessment.
Serena is extremely passionate about providing all children with quality early years education so that they can build on their strong foundations for future life long learning.