When school moves into your home
The British School in the Netherlands (BSN) has been providing remote learning for its students since Monday, March 16.
In this article, I will share the ways that our Junior School parents (living with children aged 3-11 years old) have adjusted to this new arrangement and navigated their way through the last few days. New routines and ways of managing a balance between remote school learning and life within the household are emerging. I hope these insights will be reassuring and prove helpful to families going through the same experiences.
Every child and family are finding their own routine
Every household is finding its own routine and way to manage the experience. There are no perfect solutions and no clear guidelines. Every family is creating a new pathway together. I believe it’s important to celebrate this and to take stock at the end of each day to appreciate the time spent together and what has taken place.
Creating a daily schedule together
Many parents have created a schedule for the family. This adds some structure into the day and helps to keep the children aligned to their usual school day experience as much as possible. An example is below:
Wake up and quiet time
Make bed, get dressed. Quiet time: reading, colouring, lego)
|9:00||Learning Activities||Complete work sent by the teacher|
Go for a walk, do some exercises
No screen time: Drawing, lego, play a game, music, cooking
Help prepare lunch
|Set the table, prepare food|
|13:00||Learning Activities||Complete work sent by the teacher|
|14:00||Quiet time||Reading, drawing, painting, construction|
Go for a walk, bike ride, do some exercises
|16:00||Free time||FaceTime friends, video games, watch TV|
|17:00||Help prepare dinner||Set the table, prepare food|
|18:30||Review the day + plan for tomorrow||Games, reading, no screen time|
|19:00||Get ready for bed||Shower, brush teeth, clothes ready for next day|
Many parents have found it helpful to create this together with their children and discuss the next day schedule. This can then be shared again in the morning and adjusted accordingly.
Creating positive memories
It is important to know that schedules do not have to be followed if the children clearly need to do something different. Parents have found that some days they just need to be more flexible and change all the plans; bake cookies, paint a picture all afternoon, read a book together or do nothing for a while.
Adapting to the needs and emotions of the family are part of this process; it’s important that positive memories are created that can be talked about in the future.
Identify a good place for your child to do their learning
Many families have created a space within the home where their children can go to do their learning activities from school. This could be at the dining room table, distinguished by using a “special” placemat every time schoolwork is being done.
Alternatively, families have set up child-height tables and chairs in a specific room. Delineating a learning space from a play / living space will help the children adapt to the different aspects of their day.
Provide equipment for your child to do their learning
Many families have spent time choosing stationery and setting this out ready for the learning activities. This adds a sense of formality and specialism to the activities that take place at their workspace. Most households have carefully managed access to computers / devices, often involving the production of multiple schedules to accommodate the needs of more than one child.
Encourage siblings to support each other
Children are used to working together on learning activities in school, so encouraging older siblings to work alongside their younger ones has proved to work well in many families. They can often help explain the work and what is expected in a way that it’s “school friendly” and helpful for all concerned.
Help you child be in contact with their teacher
Helping children keep in contact with their teachers by returning the learning when it is completed and then receiving feedback has been a very important part of maintaining some sense of connection during this period. Parents have found it useful to know in advance how the school will do this so that they can support this process.
Give praise when your child has tried their best
Parents have provided wonderful feedback to their children as they complete their work, praising them for completing as much as they can and trying their best. This has been enhanced at the end of the day when they have reviewed the highlights of the day as a whole. This has helped children to feel positive and in control during this time of uncertainty.
Find ways to help your child connect with their friends
Children will inevitably be missing the interaction with their friends and the social interconnectivity of school life. Many of our families have found ways to build time into the day for their children to FaceTime friends and family members to try to keep this connection.
Limit screen time
It is important to build a daily schedule around a variety of activities which help to structure the use of screen time. Children need clear limits placed on their screen time and some element of choice about how to make the most of the time allocated. This has proven to be a useful strategy for our families.
Find time for you too
Many parents have tried hard to grab some time for themselves during the day. They have found slots of time to watch TV, read, pop outside, think, savour a coffee or just stare out the window. Throughout this experience, I have heard parents talk about how much they are valuing this time with their children.
They have told me of the range of conversations they have shared as a family, the games they have played together and the innovative activities they have found to enjoy. The human spirit is inventive and vibrant. School buildings closing cannot stop that.
Even though The British School in The Netherlands's campuses are closed at the moment, Christine and Lynette from the Admissions Team are ready and happy to answer any enquires you may have by telephone (070 315 40 77) or email.
Or take a look inside their campuses via the BSN Virtual Tours.