23 March 2020 14:37
ES Lifestyle newsletter The latest lifestyle, fashion and travel trends Enter your email address Continue Please enter an email address Email address is invalid Fill out this field Email address is invalid You already have an account. Please log in Register with your social account or click here to log in I would like to receive trends and interviews from fashion, lifestyle to travel every week, by email Update newsletter preferences With schools across the UK closing in an attempt to slow down the spread of coronavirus, many parents are finding that homeschooling their kids has become an overnight necessity. Luckily there are plenty of free resources available, says Rachel Brooks, who has been homeschooling her 10-year-old daughter Freya since 2018. "My daughter has an autistic spectrum disorder, and while the school was amazing, she was struggling emotionally and she was so stressed about things that she didn't need to be stressed about," Rachel tells the Standard. "When Freya was little, she did really well in school, she exceeded the targets but the more stressed she got the more she was just bobbing along in the middle and we realised we could achieve bobbing along in the middle at home but hopefully better." Rachel says Freya, who is in year six, is 'where she should be' for English and maths but has already completed what she needs to for science, a few months early.
"She's going onto what she should be doing next year for science because she's good at and we both enjoy it." Below, Rachel gives her top tips for parents new to homeschooling. Stick to a timetable, but don't stress when you deviate from it "We tend to do things when Freya's able to concentrate best. So usually for us that's the morning, but if she's had a really bad night or something, I'm not going to make her do long division at 9am in the morning. This is the benefit or doing things at home as we can do things when she can concentrate best." Understand the curriculum "You can find the national curriculum online but most people will have what their schools are covering, under the 'parents' section of the school website. The school would have what the kids are expected to cover that year." Know what free resources are available "There's a website called Twinkl, that covers the national curriculum for all early years through to year six and core subjects through secondary school, normally you have to pay a fee but for the next month you can access all of their website for free. (Twinkl tells the Standard it's offering unlimited access to over 630,000 teaching and learning materials resources by using the link twinkl.co.uk/offer and entering the code CVDTWINKLHELPS alongside an email and password.) "They have lesson plans, worksheets and powerpoint presentations, so if you don't want to plan everything but you want your kids to cover what they cover in school you can type in their year and there will be stuff there. "There's another for little children as well called Reading Eggs, again this is something you would normally have to pay for but they are currently offering it for free. There's one called Mystery Science too that we use a lot. Even without all of this going on, we use a lot of free websites, like National Geographic for kids and the NASA website, they're free all the time. Remember you're not a professional teacher "Don't try to act like your kids' school, because you aren't going to be able to and it will stress you out. Work within your abilities, you might be surprised that they're better or greater than they think they are." Talk to your children to discover the best way they learn "Check in with your children to see what really grabs their interest, so you know what they're going to enjoy. Try to make it enjoyable as well, I think sometimes we've been looking at things and I say, 'you know I hated this at school as well.' And we make a bit of a joke of it and do it together." Set some expectations "It's really important before you start to set some expectations, which will be different for everybody. For us, with Freya, she gets screen time by doing her work and not messing around or making a fuss. She earns fun by working well, that works for us but it might not work for everyone." Get a parents-only WhatsApp support group "It's really great to have a WhatsApp group or some network to get tips and share what's working well for you too. If you're in a WhatsApp group, they're really good for support and when you're having a hard day with it all." Go outside, if you can "It's really important to get some fresh air and exercise. Harder, obviously, now. We're lucky where we live that there is a lot of green space but try and get some fresh air for your mental health as well as physical." Make the most of virtual help "On Monday Joe Wicks is starting his P.E. lessons from 9am so we'll be joining in with that. "Because we can't get to places at the moment, museums are doing virtual tours which is also a good learning activity." Make sure there's as much writing as there is working on the screen "My daughter enjoys working on a screen more than she does writing but that takes a balance, because I don't want her working on a screen all the time." Allow Netflix, but make it educational "For people who are having a day and just think, 'I can't do this anymore', there are programmes, likeBrainchild on Netflix that has six episodes that children find interesting and actually learn something while watching TV."