Homes & Schools

The lockdown has imposed many changes. Home-schooling is by no means the most severe, but at times it will have felt so for those doing it.

Whilst there are natural overlaps between school and home, there are also areas where confusing the two is counter-productive. I cannot teach my sons in the same way that I would teach my pupils. To try to do so would be unrewarding for all involved, yet many parents have had those boundaries blurred since schools closed. Thus the first tactic to get the best out of home-schooling is not for parents to become teachers, but pupils. Schools enjoy the considerable benefit of a critical mass of children getting on with the task in hand. This creates a current which guides everyone, especially when individual momentum falters. Without that, commas become full-stops. If a child at home is stumped by a task, the trick is to get them back into the flow. If you give the answer or permission to skip, that does not remove the snag. If you start to work the problem out in a way that they can complete for themselves, you’ve eased them back into the learning. This does not mean that you need to take the lesson alongside of them, simply that your child will respond to you better as a fellow-learner rather than a role they do not want you to take.

A great deal of learning at schools happens between lessons and at lunch or break-times. Breaks, snacks and chatting all have a role to play in the structure of any learning environment. Social contact is vital for all children; older ones are likely to have better access to communication tools than younger and this probably requires compensation. At Chafyn we are one big community and maintaining special bonds between children and teachers has played a big part in how lessons are structured for home learning; ensuring we boost moral as much as possible. Tutor groups still meet but instead of face to face this is done online, group chats occasionally have a theme e.g. wear the silliest headgear. In addition weekly challenges are set to encourage children to complete Chafyn set challenges. Fresh air is such an important part of our school day, to encourage exercising from home combined with a bit of healthy competition challenges from exercising with your pet through to recording running/cycling miles over the course of the week have been thoroughly enjoyed by our children. Our teachers are doing everything they can to minimise the home-school gap, but teaching is inherently personal and technology is 2D.

If the importance of schools is now being appreciated more, I hope the same is true for homes. A home can accommodate some schooling, but that must always remain subordinate to providing a safe and happy place for your children.