The pressures of home schooling during lockdown are taking their toll on everybody involved – children, staff and also parents.
As lockdown goes on the impact on mental health and wellbeing of children being separated from their peers, the restrictions on physical activity, the demands of the curriculum and families trying to juggle work and education all in the same house, is beginning to show.
Many schools recognise the stresses and strains and are doing everything they can to support children and families get through the challenges.
Langton and Weaverthorpe primary schools near Malton have decided to hold online sessions for families as well as children.
Head teacher Rachel Ray said: “We are doing regular Teams meetings with families in the mornings, for social time and a feeling of togetherness.
“It is an opportunity for children to see each other. We use it to support learning. We are letting everyone know we are here and very much here to support them, so parents at home don’t think they cannot contact us,” she said.
With no more than 30 per cent of children actually in class, regular meetings allow those at home to socialise with their peers as well as providing a forum for parents.
While Teams and Zoom – the two schools use one each – help keep direct contact, social media also has a role to play, with regular Twitter updates used to help bridge the gap between classmates who might be in school or learning from home.
That helps to re-assure those away from traditional classes that they are not missing out of what friends may be learning in school.
A key message to parents, who are frequently juggling their own careers while trying to help their children keep up with education, is that mental wellbeing is at the top of the list of importance.
In practice, that means encouraging a culture where parents know their school is open and approachable. Parents have been contacted by letter to re-assure them in the hope of reducing the risk of worrying, with the message that maintaining mental well-being is the most important goal at present. That involves guidance that adults should not press too hard on their children’s learning workload and to stop and allow youngsters to play rather than allow it to become overbearing.
Remote learning policies have been updated with the aim of ensuring consistent learning among children, whether they are in the classroom or at home.
Those who have found difficulties with particular topics have the option of joining in extra sessions to help keep educational progress smooth.
Rewards remain in place, so certificates are still awarded on a weekly basis, and house points notched up, regardless of whether pupils are at home or in school.
Families are encouraged to give feedback and have been sent questionnaires on how the schools’ techniques have worked.