We’re over a month deep into this homeschool malarkey and the novelty of the parent-teacher/offspring-pupil dynamic is definitely wearing off. How can you bring more fun and movement into home learning and get kids reengaged as lockdown is set to carry on for weeks or more? One woman extremely experienced at teaching through play is here to help.
There are different ways to tackle home school. There’s the ‘leave them to it’ method; the ‘watch over them like hawks’ madness and when all else fails, the ‘follow in the footsteps of Nike’ and Just Do It for them. None are likely to gain the Ofsted seal of approval.
One mum has, however, come up with a winning formula and if you have children aged between two and eight, you may want to take note. To be fair, she’s an ex-teacher and founder of Pop Up Play Village – a roving role play experience for kids – so she should know what she’s doing. Becky Hoare has a pre-schooler and a child in year one and rather than follow the textbook approach, she bases her education on play.
“Learning through play is one of the best ways for children to learn,” explains Becky, “it comes naturally, gives them space to be creative, imaginative and inventive and it’s fun. Best of all, they don’t even realise they’re learning.” Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? One of Becky’s most popular lockdown teaching ideas (posted daily here) is the ‘create your own office’. She explains: “First we made a laptop from an old cardboard box. My son wrote out all the keyboard letters which was a great way for us to practice his handwriting and phonics. We then made a phone with all the numbers. My daughter decided she wanted her office to be a bank so out came the money, the till and the chance to do some maths.”
After a particularly arduous day working my way through the worksheets we’d been set, I decided to give this a go. I was amazed at what my children did with an old Weetabix box. They loved the laptop idea and even decided to make a mouse to go with it. We did handwriting, phonics, maths and art and design – without me even mentioning the words ‘school’ or ‘work’. What’s more this kept my pre-schooler happy too as I could easily tailor the learning to each age group.
Another first-class idea from Becky was the pop up post office. “I don’t usually prep any resources in advance but for this activity, we did make and paint the post box the day before. I put boxes, paper, card, sticky labels and envelopes on the table and asked my kids who they wanted to write to. The dog was the lucky recipient of letter after letter, written without any fuss by my usually writing reticent son. Once the post office was open, we weighed parcels and sold stamps – great ways for me to bring numbers into the equation.”