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Becoming a home-school hero

Education 4 min read

21 Apr 2020

It almost feels like we blinked and all of a sudden we we’re expected to become, teachers, referees, principals, chef’s, and entertainers all in one night. Along with trying to be a parent and juggling your day job, the stress levels are rising.

Let’s begin by first of all saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day, mastering all tasks won’t happen overnight. The stress of keeping all the balls bouncing will get to everyone! But how do you avoid feeling like you’re turning into Ms. Trunchbull?

We spoke to a teacher from Dublin, who has listened to the feedback from parents in her class and adapted the work she sends to the kids. This ensures there is no unnecessary stress for all involved. Parents and children aren’t expected to follow any formal regime for getting the work done. But this teacher has given us some handy tips that will keep the questions to a minimum, allowing you to get your own work done.

Above all, be kind to yourself. You are not a teacher, and we are all in unchartered waters right now. Some children will need the routine and structure of a school day, others will not. Some children will enjoy the learning and work sent home, others would rather be outside, or playing.

Be prepared!

It is important for parents to be prepared for the next day’s lessons. Setting out a timetable of what order the work is happening and how long you are spending on each subject will keep everyone focused. It is important to split the timings into slots of concentration rather than getting the work done all in one go! If you feel like you will get 40 minutes concentration for one piece of work put that down on the schedule. If kids are older, you may want to extend this time slot to 50 minutes. Work with what you have, there’s no one size fits all!

 Tips for subjects

If you’re finding it hard to wonder how teachers do it, it’s because they have resources! Home-schooling is more than likely just using a book or an online tool. When a lesson takes place in the classroom, practical examples are put into place. This teacher has given us some helpful tips to get creative to help with learning.

  • Maths

The dreaded subject for many. The memories of our own days in school, grasping the methods for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing would be enough to turn anyone off for life. Maths is difficult, and explaining it may be even harder.
Using resources from around the house can be a useful tool in helping younger kids especially to practice counting or adding and subtracting. Household items like a deck of cards, dominos, dried pasta and straws are all perfect resources for your home class room. Plus, that box full of lego can really be put to use.
For older children, it’s important that we teach them life skills that translate into what they are learning in the classroom. Including them in dinner or baking preparations will allow them to use their maths skills to measure ingredients and add or subtract to make portion sizes fit for all the family at meal times.
Another valuable exercise is to allow older children to help you price an online supermarket shop. This doesn’t mean you are necessarily ordering your shopping online but by giving them a list of things, asking them to price the shop and give you a total at the end allows for classroom learning to take on a real life situation.
There are some excellent online resources that are being offered for free at the moment –  Carol Vorderman’s ‘The Maths Factor’ (For ages 4-12). It’s topic based, designed by age, with videos for each topic and a short practice assignment with each session. There’s also a games section, which is very popular in houses around the country. 

  • STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths – STEM. Now you may be reading this thinking, no way am I participating in any science experience in my house! Science experiments can bring the fun to home schooling. Visuals are always a great asset to have in any classroom, they enhance the learning experience and bring excitement to learning. As STEM subjects become more and more important in schooling life, here are some easy home experiments for any budding Einstein’s!
Building jelly bean structures:

You’ll need toothpicks and jelly beans/marshmallows. The object of this experience is to build a structure that’s stands tall on its own using only two materials. Build whatever you want – but make sure it stands up on its own!
Orange – sink or swim?

What you will need for this is an orange and a clear bowl or vase filled with water. First place the orange with all its skin in tact, in the water and observe that it floats. Next, take the orange out and peel the skin off. Place the peeled orange back in the water and what happens? It sinks of course! This is aimed at younger children and a good way to describe why this happens, is by saying the first orange had its armbands on and so was able to float. The second orange took its arm bands of and so it sank.

Make your own lava lamp:

What you will need for this is a clear plastic or class bottle, some oil and food colouring. Fill the bottle with water. Add some oil and some food colouring and watch your lava lamp come to life!
For some more great science experiments, visit Science Foundation Ireland.

  • History & Geography

A valuable exercise to teach children about both history and geography, is to set children a task of creating a project on the holiday destination they would love to go on when this is all over. This is an exercise that can be tailored to any age. For older children, they must first find out the history of the destination. Then some facts about the landscape, how they would get there, what they would bring with them and finally, what they could get up to when they are there. For younger children, drawing pictures of the place (or places!) they want to visit when this is over, can be their own little project. Why not get them to present it to the rest of the family when finished, you never know, it might be your next holiday planned!

Extra Resources!

You may find that your children are finishing their work in record time, leaving you little or no time to get stuck into your own work. Or, if you’ve more than one child at home, you can be sure that one will fly through the work and the other will drag their heels. A golden ticket of advice is to have early finisher exercises ready to go. These may include, colouring a picture, practicing spellings, practicing writing by writing a letter to their friends or family they can’t see at the moment or indeed, checking out RTÉ’s Homeschool. Another gem is Joe Wicks PE class every morning at 9am. A must do in your daily timetable.


Credit unions and home school: 

At the heart of every community credit unions around Ireland are supporting families who have found themselves in a new routine of homeschooling. One example of this is Derry Credit Union. Derry Credit Union recognised that many parents would not have access to printing facilities for their children's school work. They put out a call on their social media account to support anyone who needs the resources. 

We've also created a colouring sheet of our little friend Finn. You’ll find our very own colouring sheet here.