The closure of schools in response to the Coronavirus pandemic has meant millions of parents are having to play the role of ‘full-time teacher’ to their already busy work schedule. Murray Morrison, founder of learning program Tassomai and ex-supertutor explains why it’s more than OK to lean on technology for support.
Article by Murray Morrison
Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: it is not your job to replace your child’s teacher for the duration of the school closure. Parents all over the country are piling on way too much pressure to meet their own expectations of what homeschooling “should” be, while also trying to maintain their day-to-day job. Be under no illusions that your main obligation should be to your own work – you are not a teacher, and that’s fine.
Give yourself a break – and remember school will cover everything
When school resumes, the first thing that will happen is that teachers will run over everything from last year, and teach everything that had been planned for teaching during the “lost term”. There is no new learning that is meant to happen now that won’t be taught – so there is no pressure on families to exclusively cover this new content.
That said, getting your children to read what the school sends, and spend time practising, reading around the subject (and making notes where they can) will be positive – it means that when the material is taught in class, it will be easier to absorb. That’s going to be useful when the teaching next year is necessarily compressed.
Find things to occupy them so you can do your stuff
Self-directed learning will be a great stand-by: not only does it make for better, longer-lasting learning for your child, but also it gives you time to focus on your own work. The key thing is to make sure that work is done in a structured way with tangible outcomes that you can check periodically. Don’t let them just “read some notes”; instead ask them to make flashcards, make a video or write an essay. Technology comes in very useful here – especially if there is interactivity: Tassomai helps students practise knowledge through personalised quizzing while parents can see exactly how much has been done; other softwares teach through videos that track engagement.
EdTech can really be your friend when it comes to getting your children studying under their own steam: BBC Bitesize has fantastic learning games for all age groups, and a few minutes browsing YouTube will yield plenty of excellent learning channels for occasional use through the day.
Make the time you spend together happy, enriching, positive time that school cannot offer
When it comes to working one-to-one with your children, if you can take a few hours off for it, I’d recommend parents spend their time doing activities that schools cannot provide. There are a wealth of “enrichment” activities that schools struggle to support, but parents can do fairly easily. There are obvious options like craft projects, story-writing and baking which allow you to be creative and discuss words, ideas, maths and science. But you could also try some gardening projects or – with just a few materials like cardboard and tape – tackle some STEM projects like making beautiful 3D shapes, building bridges or constructing gliders.
Use technology where you can to make learning effective and powerful
My advice to parents is to spend a little time seeing what technology platforms are best-suited to solving your most pressing needs as parents: you want education technology that occupies your child’s attention so you have time to do your own work; you also want products that have a solid evidence base underpinning them, so you can be confident that their use will be beneficial.
Check sites like Edtech Impact and Edtech Evidence Group to see which products can be trusted to have a real learning impact so that you can focus on your work and make the time you spend learning with your children as wonderful as possible.
This is a contribution post written by Murray Morrison for The Expert Agency with consent to be shared on this blog.
I’ve always loved the idea of homeschooling but didn’t think I’d have the intelligence, patience or willpower to do so. After these two – almost three weeks – I can tell you that it’s bloody hard! I’ve always done so but now praise teachers even more for what they do with our children, it’s not an easy job with one let alone a class full of twenty plus.
We also must need to thank all of the key workers working hard to keep our country running. The shop workers, seriously – where would we be without them? It’s amazing that we can all stand together as one and as a community, helping each other out. In Greenwich there is a mutual aid group made up of locals volunteering to help out those in need who are struggling with their daily lives.
So we have been self-isolating since the school closures were announced on Friday 20th March. We have only gone out when necessary for essential shopping which we try to limit to no more than 2-3 a week. We didn’t stockpile but made sure we had a few extras of our normal shop to keep us going for a few weeks. We haven’t been sick or had symptoms *touch wood* and have stayed away from our friends and family.
Of course, we practice social distancing and we try to only nominate one of us to do the essential shop. I get Daddy P to do it as the last time I tried to go to the shops it was a little awkward and I felt very anxious. Social distancing wasn’t entirely possible in our local supermarket and other people noticed it too. One even commented “well we’re all gonna die anyway“… okay(!)
I wanted to say something so badly but we’re all entitled to our own opinion and in these uncertain times, who knows anymore. I wrote an earlier post about the racial tension I experienced which still looms in the air. Even an NHS worker in London was recently racially targeted because she was of Asian-looking heritage. There’s only two words that people need to think of in this situation and it’s “BE KIND”. Be kind to everyone but especially those who are working flat out to keep us safe.
The outbreak is affecting us all mentally, emotionally and physically. The kids are managing well and to be honest, haven’t been asking too many questions about it. They’ve just taken it on board and got along with things. I am so grateful that they are able to have this mindset especially as they’re not allowed outside more than once a week.
How to stay happy & healthy during the lockdown
1. Keep to a routine
Keeping to a routine will not only save your sanity, it will also give the family a sense of structure to your day. Most days, try to wake up at a reasonable time like (before 10am) and get that morning routine going. Especially as most of us are now at home it’s so easy to fall into a slump and put your body clock out of sync with the world.
If you are homeschooling you might want to wake up like you would do on a ‘normal’ school day and start your studies at 9am. For us, we’re a bunch of lazy bones and will wake up around 9-10am and start homeschooling an hour after. Our morning routine includes washing face/brushing teeth, eat breakfast, set up the desk and get into homeschool-mode. So much easier that we don’t have to faff around with school uniform!
Everyone’s routine will be a little different – the same goes with the homeschooling. Before I started, I had big plans for Little Man and a good day’s schedule all planned out. After the first day, we realised it wouldn’t work and so have adapted it to suit us since then. Now we limit school work to 2 hours a day and usually try to do it before their lunch at 1pm. However, we are also flexible so if we’ve had a lazy morning, we’d carry on with relaxing and playing then do the homeschooling after lunch or during the second half of the day.
2. Eat well
Don’t curb on all the processed food as now you’ll actually have the time to cook. If you’re not great at it or stuck for ideas, just head online and you’ll find that the internet world is really your (virtual) oyster. If the kitchen is not really your forte, subscription companies like Gousto, Mindful Chef and Hello Fresh can actually be very helpful however they will be very busy due to demand. Have a look for food boxes from your local grocery, they might even deliver for free. You can even check out their boxes recipes online too, here’s a link to Mindful Chef’s latest recipes to whet your appetite.
Note: get the kids involved with the cooking! It’ll count towards their ‘life skills’ and makes great bonding sessions.
Breakfast: make sure you have a good breakfast to start your day. Our favourite is oat porridge with a small dollop of jam or a slice of toast with cheesy scrambled egg. For myself if I’m being lazy, I have a slice of toast with tea and then coffee!
Lunch: we keep it simple for lunch as the kids usually get involved. Recently we’ve been making easy egg-less fluffy pancakes (recipe here!). There’s also a recipe for ‘protein pancakes’ on this blog if you fancy something different.
Dinner: Daddy P and I take it in turns but I would say 80% of the time, I’ll cook and he’ll clean because he’s the best at cleaning! 🙂 Our recent meals include salmon and dill quiche with salad, seafood and fish pie, easy macaroni cheese, veggie lasagne, and even fish stew! As Daddy P is pescetarian we don’t cook meat anymore – saying that I did make sticky soy and garlic glazed chicken wings the other day which was so tasty.
We try to get in our daily “together time”. This is any fun activity that we can do all together as a family. There’s also a weekly Sunday family rave courtesy of Big Fish Little Fish events at 2pm on Facebook Live so don’t miss that one! It’s pretty amazing. They put on an amazing show, we’ve been to a few family raves in person so it’s really nostalgic to watch them on Sundays. Also an excuse for us to make noise and go crazy with dance.
When I want to workout alone, I put on Zumba Workouts (Youtube) and work up a good sweat, my favourite workouts are from a lady called Ysel Gonzalez – she has such a vibrant energy it’s amazing. Sometimes the kids join in which is nice too. I’ve also bought a rebounder to use at home and the kids are having a good workout on there too! I’ve not had a go yet but will try it out this weekend.
If you’re stuck on ideas, here are some ‘together time’ activities you can fit into your routine:
Games – board games, console games, team player games, made-up games
Messy play or imaginative (role play, dressing up)
Arts and crafts-making
Watching a film together
Gardening (if you have a garden) or planting (indoors or outdoors)
Learning a new language
4. Do more yoga
We’ve been doing family yoga stories together once a week, sometimes more if they’re up to it. There’s also a lot of yoga teachers offering online classes (free, pay-what-you-can and donation-based) so have a look out for them. There’s literally a class for everyone and any family. If you’ve never done yoga before, don’t worry about it – family yoga is fun and the focus is on the bonding experience between parent and child/children and having fun! If you’re still unsure, you can put YouTube’s Cosmic Kids Yoga for the kids (ideally for 3-9 yrs) to keep them busy for an hour or two.
For yourself, now is a better time than any to start your own yoga practice. Yoga really is for everybody. Don’t think that you need to be flexible to start yoga – flexibility is a by-product of yoga!
My advice for you would be to look for yoga ‘flows’ (classes/sessions) that are specifically for beginners if you have no/very little yoga experience. These sessions are the best at easing you into simple poses and will have more options for modification. Restorative yoga flows are also great for beginners and they focus on releasing tight areas and are friendly enough for those who suffer from mobility issues or injuries. It’s also great for those who just want a much slower and relaxing pace.
5. Be flexible and realistic with your expectations
It’s so easy to try and cram as much in as possible, especially when we’re provided with so much choice and now have a lot more time on our hands. Take each day as it comes and as much as having a routine and structure is important, so is the ability to be flexible and realistic with your expectations. If the children seem like they have too much energy, have some time out and maybe even skip the schoolwork for the day. Enjoy the time you have with each other.
It’s hard for the children to not be able to release their wild energy normally like they would do running about in the playground and so they can become restless, mine certainly do! Be more understanding towards them and give them a little lee-way.
6. Practice daily mindfulness
Learning to be in the moment – being present, becoming mindful is something I am trying to teach myself. I can get quite riled up from the children that sometimes I lose my sh*t and go on a shouting rampage. What good does it do? Nothing. How does it make me feel after? Like a crappy parent. So why continue to do it?
Stop the cycle by observing and not judging whether it’s a good or bad situation, just accept it as it is. Only then can we move forward to a more positive outcome. I bought a mindfulness book which helps me to challenge my thoughts and behaviours – almost like a CBT book that helps me to keep calm and become more mindful of everything around. There’s also brilliant mindfulness apps for adults and children. For adults, I love the CALM app and for kids, we use the Moshi Twilight stories app. It really helps the children to relax and usually sends them off to sleep. Other mindfulness activities can include mandala colouring (great for kids too!), guided meditation and yoga nidra.
7. Boost your immunity
I’m sure you have heard this everywhere. Keep your immunity levels high to keep your health in good condition. You don’t have to purchase the world of tablets but multivitamins with omega 3 or vitamin D, and vitamin C tablets can go a long way. A good way of getting in vitamin C is through eating fruits like oranges. Try not to juice them as this extracts mainly the sugars that’s contained in the fruit. You’ll get more benefit from eating oranges whole and eat fruits with the skin on like apples as the fibre is in the skin.
When I’m not feeling too well, I like drinking my honey and ginger tea. Just hot water, a teaspoon of honey and a thumb-size knob of ginger (crushed) is the best thing ever.
Turmeric is also another fantastic ingredient that is an immune-booster, it’s anti-inflammatory and said to help with healing. My mother used to buy fresh turmeric root and rub it over her acne spots to help it heal faster. Unfortunately the root can be hard to find but they would be available in most Asian food stores but turmeric powder can be found in most supermarkets.
I like making turmeric lattes with turmeric powder and dairy-free milk (oat milk or brown rice milk is the best for this!) and enjoy. If you have a frothing tool you can get a really lovely foam going and a professional barista-style turmeric latte.
8. Get some fresh air
Whether you have a big garden or an apartment balcony like me, there’s always time to get some fresh air. We are still currently allowed to go outside for an hour of exercise so you could use a few minutes of this time to go on a gentle walk. If you’re up early enough, take the kids with you so they can get some fresh air too – by going earlier you’ll avoid unnecessary crowds of people. Of course, continue to practice social distancing and stay safe when outside.
If you prefer to go stay indoors the garden is a wonderful place to be, learn to make use of your green space – perhaps get the kids involved with some gardening or have a little campfire (no actual fire of course!) but you can teach them camping skills or scouts activities which you can find online. If like me you have just a balcony, leave the balcony door open for a few hours each day to let fresh air circulate inside the flat.
9. Don’t forget about yourself
When you have a family, looking after number one *yourself* can sometimes become the last priority but during this lockdown, your own mental/physical/emotionally self must be taken care of first. It’s the time to be selfish because you don’t look after yourself, who will look after your family?
I’m not saying splash out on something lavish – unless you can really afford to – I’m saying do something nice for yourself at least once a week or month. Whether it’s allowing yourself to binge on one whole Netflix series or eating that whole batch of chocolate brownies you made, just do it!
I re-joined Birchbox last month and I’m looking forward to this little treat. Other beauty subscription boxes include Look Fantastic (check out their pretty April box here), Glossybox and Beauty Pie. If you prefer natural or vegan beauty products, I’d highly recommend trying out the LoveLula boxes. I need to start reviewing the boxes again but I stopped as it took a lot of time, though now I have a little more time… why not!
These beauty boxes are life right now and the best thing is that you can choose to pay in block to save money or pay on a monthly basis and cancel at anytime. If you change your mind, you can resubscribe at anytime too.
Above all… stay happy, stay healthy, stay safe!
Lots of love to everyone during these uncertain times. Take care of family and more importantly yourself in both mind and body. x
At this time every year, we all set fitness and lifestyle goals, that we are keen to realize. The good intentions in January, can often slip away without the right mental attitude and dedication to what you are trying to achieve. If you have goals you are determined to meet this year, make sure you set an achievable yet challenging plan. Whether it is a home-based session before the school run, or a run through Greenwich Park, make sure you have all the components to make your regimen successful. In addition to exercise, swapping the mince pies for low-carb salads will be essential to kick start your year. Keeping it up past January however, is where the real skill is involved.
Setting Out Your Fitness Plan For Success
Often in January, we can be left feeling lethargic, unhealthy and flabby. If you fell prey to one to many Proseccos during party season, you should be feeling enough motivation to kick start your fitness goals and get that body back into gear. However, after the initial few weeks, motivation can begin to wane and our plans can begin to falter. When this occurs, there is nothing better than seeking the help of others. Sure, your fitness plan is personal to you and it is up to you to achieve those goals. In difficult times though, the inspiration of others can be imperative to getting the job done in as quick a time as possible. Perhaps that extra push, or motivation can come from a personal trainer in the new year?
Remember the story of The Tortoise and The Hare? Well this is also pertinent to your training goals. Do not let your ambition get the better of you. If you over train early in your new fitness regime, this can have a detrimental effect on your overall aims. There is nothing worse than pushing yourself over the limit and being left recovering on the sofa, when all you want to do is be burning off those stubborn calories. Create a realistic, yet challenging fitness plan and stick to it.
The Importance Of Nutrition
When your body is working harder in the gym or on the road, the temptation to over-compensate with food can be high. Although it is important to fuel your body with the correct foods, ensure you are eating the right foods at the right time. Initially after your workout, fill the body with healthy proteins to help build muscle and keep your energy up. The night before a big run, fill up on complex carbs like pasta, so your body has the right energy to keep your plan on track.
To make sure you achieve your fitness goals this year, set a realistic yet challenging plan, seek inspiration and advice when your motivation is low and fuel your body correctly. If you follow these vital steps, you will achieve your goals in next to no time.
A contribution post by freelance writer, Jane Sandwood
Now I don’t know about you but my children can be a handful. Sometimes they can play nicely but the majority of the time, they are like feral creatures that require daily taming! As much as it drives me up the wall and cause me unnecessary stress and repeating myself like a broken record, it does give the home a bit of dynamic. 🙂
They are usually the loudest, wildest and playful one in the room. Sometimes they are so confident in the way they play, people can mistaken them for being naughty or cheeky. This is how Baby Girl is – overly confident in everything she does to a point where it makes her look bossy. She plays with her big brother but when she doesn’t get her way she will tease him and intimidate him. LO is such a softie that he ends up in tears if they go head-to-head (bless him!).
If your little one is like my Baby Girl, here’s how to spot the signs..
1. There’s mess EVERYWHERE!
… I mean everywhere! My house constantly looks like it’s been hit by a hurricane. In the bedroom it only takes her a few seconds to pull open her drawers and pull out all her clothes, pull all the laundry on the bottom drying rack off and throw all her stuffed toys in the cot onto the floor. In the living room and kitchen (why do new builds love open-plan kitchens? They are not practical for a young family!) my books and paperwork on my desk constantly end up on the floor in a large pile and all the plates and tupperware in the kitchen gets scattered on the floor. When her big brother gets involved too, it’s double trouble and endless cleaning.
Advice: Watch out for that small but deadly piece of lego on the floor when you come round to mine!
2. House floods become a possibility
Baby Girl can reach the door handles now and one of the things she loves doing most is opening closed doors. The only door we keep closed in the house is the bathroom and when we’re not watching her like a hawk she will sneak to open the bathroom door, climb onto the toilet seat and play with the tap water. The other night we were seconds away from a flood I would’ve had to call an emergency plumber like these guys to help. Baby Girl had clogged up the bathroom sink with toilet tissue and cotton pads then ran the tap full blast. Luckily I walked in just as the sink filled (almost) to the brim. That would’ve been a costly call out! *hides face*
3. She/he has mastered the art of selective hearing
Baby Girl – I’m sure – has selective hearing (I think she’s picked it up from her brother) and will choose when she wants to listen to me. She doesn’t want anyone to get in the way of her having fun so she’s conjured up a few games for herself which is not the most safe such as playing with the kitchen drawers and cupboards. She likes to sit in the bottom drawer and play with her and LO’s plastic plates and bowls. It’s not bad until she gets overly excited then ends up shutting her fingers in the drawer. Her second favourite game in the kitchen is to rummage through mummy’s spice cupboard and drink the soy sauce or munch on the oxo cubes… yuck. I think I need some child-proof locks in the kitchen pronto!
4. Everything is edible in their eyes
Parents, your child can’t truly certify as a wild child unless she/he has ticked this box – eating anything and everything they can get their hands on. From crayons and watercolour paints to rubber balls, sand and cigarettes Baby Girl has gotten her taste of it all. The photo above was taken after I found her sitting happily on my desk with my mini watercolour palette in her hand. It seemed that she had taken a liking to the orange-red paint brick and decided to munch on it however that’s not the worst thing she’d ate. Oh no… the worst thing by far has to be Daddy P’s cigarettes.
Funnily enough, when I was a little girl I also ate my dad’s cigarette in an attempt to what I thought was smoking it… although I was 5-6yrs old and clearly was being stupid whereas Baby Girl is only 18 months with a taste (pun intended) for trying new things.
5. They do not stop/stay still!
Okay so this last sign is a bit wishy-washy as every baby loves to be on the move but seriously, Baby Girl just doesn’t know when to stop… or maybe she does and just doesn’t want to stop! She is forever exploring every bit of the house, trying to find something new or inventing a new game for herself which is great until I have to tell her to stop and she still carries on. I’ll leave the kids to play in the living room and sneak off to the bedroom to rest and will find that she’s sneaked off to the bathroom AGAIN for the fourth time (I need an outside bolt on the door!) Throughout the day she’ll be screeching, screaming, shouting (getting to know her voice as babies do) and running and climbing everywhere.
Eventually, if I do manage to get more than 5 mins rest, the sound of running water from the bathroom will surely wake me up! So if your little one is anything like mine, it’s possible you have a wild child on your hands… good luck! 🙂
I recently read an interesting article on Wayfair UK. They conducted a street survey asking people what “home” really meant to them. They were met with similar responses – home is all about family, comfort, and happiness. Out of 400 people Wayfair spoke to, 71% said that the sofa was the most important item of furniture in their home.
We do love our sofas and TV moments! 🙂
To me, home and family are synonymous. One cannot be without the other – remember that there is a difference between a home and a house. As much as I love my peace and quiet, I love the feeling of lots of friends and family coming over for a social gathering. A home also can’t really be complete without a sofa, to be honest.
“We hit the streets of London over the Easter weekend equipped with an armchair and a microphone to find out what home really means to us! The findings were both insightful and heartwarming, exposing that our homes are much more than just buildings or places, they are family, comfort, inspiration, happiness and much more.”
I remember when we first moved into our home in Greenwich.
Baby Girl wasn’t born yet and LO was still a baby. We had no sofa for a month and had to sit on the floor for dinner and TV time. We didn’t mind as it was only short term but it definitely didn’t feel warm and inviting without a sofa around so I completely understand why it’s the most important furniture in the home.
Do you remember the first time you moved into your home and the point when it started to feel like a home instead of just a house?
I started my blog just under two years ago and have seen it grow which is a big success to me. I’ve had the chance to work with brilliant brands and am quite proud of myself for still being here and blogging nearly two years on. I really didn’t think I would last this long but so, so glad that I have because I actually like blogging! 🙂
Being a mummy blogger is a niche itself; sometimes it can be really difficult to get your voice out there as there are so many mummy/daddy/parent/family bloggers out there now. I started off blogging about local family activities and reviewing them however, as the months went by I found myself blogging more about other things like home, lifestyle, beauty, fitness, and food. My blog wasn’t just about being a mum and writing about my parenting experiences, it was more than that. It was about me as an individual.
I think in order to survive in the blogosphere, you need to have your personality injected into your blog. People are nosey (no offence to anyone) and we like to learn about how other people live their lives. My favourite mum blogs are the ones that write about their everyday life and what they do in their spare time for fun ie fitness or eating out, how they keep themselves sane during the school holidays and talk about their parenting mistakes and oopsie-moments with their children. People want to see the realness in blogs, especially parent blogs because everyone knows… parenting is not easy and far from ever being perfect.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that blogging is not just about blogging as in the content – it’s also about the amount of followers you have. This is where I fail miserably. I have nearly 3,000 combined followers across all my social media which is nothing compared to some mummy bloggers out there who have over 10,000 followers per social media platform. Brands love it and so do the public; the more followers you have the more ‘respect’ you have online. Having a big social media following will give you that “influencer” status which will make you look very attractive to brands.
The good thing is that nowadays even the little guys like me can get recognised for blogging. If your social media or blog following isn’t as high but your readers or followers are very engaged with your posts, that has a better conversion and can give you an advantage over a bigger blog that has more followers but less engagement. For example… (math lesson time!) you have 10,000 followers and only 100 liked your post, that’s a conversion of 1%. However, if you have 1,000 followers and 100 liked your post… that’s a conversion of 10%. See how good the stats look now?
Say hello to the micro-influencer!
Hurrah! The rise in demand for micro-influencers means we can all get a piece of the blogging-influencer pie, no matter how big or small your blog following is. Yay! 🙂
I think mummy bloggers will continue to stick around for a while. There’s always going to be a new mum searching for parenting advice and what better way to get it than from a mummy blogger? Mummy bloggers are also venturing out into vlogging, podcasting, hosting blog conferences, workshops and even offering their blogging success tips online to connect more with their readers and give them that little bit ‘extra’. I think this innovative way of thinking is what will help them stay ahead of competition and stay in the game for the long haul.
What are your views on the future of blogging? Do you have any innovative strategies in place to connect and engage with your readers?
This post was written as a part of Innovation Company’s study on what bloggers see as the future of blogging. This was a paid post. All words and opinions are my own.
I read a post on the World Vision blog and a couple of other mummy blogs answering the question, “what was the last thing your child needed?” and wanted to give my little response and thoughts on the question.
The last thing my children needed was pretty much the basics… food and changing. Changing nappies for Baby Girl, changing clothes for LO.
Baby Girl did her morning poop and needed me to keep her clean and fresh. She’s such a good baby and doesn’t complain much when it comes to a dirty nappy. She’ll happily stay in the nappy for hours but obviously I’d smell her way before that time. However something as easy and simple as this could’ve been difficult if I didn’t have the right things to hand ie a nappy or wipes. Fair enough, it’s possible to change a baby without wipes – I could just use cotton balls and water but what if I didn’t even have those? In countries where clean water is hard to come by, keeping a baby clean can be a difficult task in itself. Continue reading “What was the last thing your child needed?”→
Just a little post (mini-rant) about public transport – buses in particular – and why I hate it using it sometimes. Unfortunately I don’t drive so usually have no choice but to use the buses. Don’t get me wrong, most days I love it but then there’s those days that I can’t stand it.