Five Tips We Learned About Homeschooling From Primarylinks' Instagram Takeover

In case you missed our recent Instagram Takeover on Family Friendly HQ, here's a rundown of some of the biggest takeaways we learned.

Karen Riordan aka Primarylinks, is a trainee play therapist and psychotherapist. She's also a full-time primary school teacher and mum to two girls aged eight and five. With all of us spending more time homeschooling our children these days, Karen did an Instagram takeover for us where she shared the best tips for everyone who might be struggling with remote learning.

She also shared some fantastic educational play ideas for when you're at home, which will likely come in handy too! Here's what we learned.

Karen from Primarylinks on Instagram
Primarylinks, how do I keep on top of everything?

It's important to remember that this is emergency education. Be kind to yourself. Put things into context and take it easy on yourself. I'm speaking as a parent. None of us has made this choice to teach from home, its emergency education, and please God we'll never find ourselves in this position again. I know people have more than two kids, or are a single parent, or both parents are trying to work from home. All you can do is what you can do.
I know sometimes tasks are set monthly, and I know if it's me and I see a list I start to panic and I have to get all of that done! I would say to you, prioritize English and Maths. That’s probably across the board, and I’m focusing at primary level. Reading, writing, and little bit of maths work every day is super. I do know from my own daughters, they do like doing a little bit of the wellbeing, so that’s fine because they are motivated and I don’t have to sit over them for that.
Just remember at the end of the day when we get back to school, we know there may be gaps and we will sort it out. It might take a year to gain back everything lost in the past year but that’s okay, just go easy on yourself.
I know as a mother that its really important to mind yourself and keep your own head straight because it filters down. Don’t put the guilt trip on yourself that you're not doing enough. You're doing your best, and that’s enough!

How do I tackle the morning a bit better?

Create structure. For me, I get up before my kids. I will get up at least an hour or an hour and 15 mins before my kids. I grab a cup of tea and do about an hours work. Now, this could be planning or recording lessons, or whatever it is, because I need quiet. I know when I wake the girls up I have an hour done and I'm a little bit ahead of the game, so usually, I'm dragging my kids out of the bed. But I know some people aren’t in that situation - the kids can wake up earlier than you!
On Fridays, before we start doing school work, we do some baking together. But, we only do this if we got all of our other jobs done during the week before starting work - such as making the beds, getting dressed, unloading the dishwasher, and making breakfast.

How do I make break-times fun?

Movement breaks are so important. I know there's no way, especially my 5-year-old, will sit there for two hours of work. The plan is that we try and get all the jobs done within those two hours if we can, but there's no way she will!
So you should implement movement breaks into the day. Some ideas for this includes scarf dancing (literally dancing with a scarf to some music), or putting on Just Dance or GoNoodle videos for free on YouTube.

Primarylinks, what do I do if they've lost interest completely?

Fresh air! This has to happen in our house every day, even if we just leave for 15 mins on wet days. It breaks the monotony of being cooped up all day and is so good for the head. Get them outside with their bikes etc.
If I feel my class need a wake up I always bring them outside for fresh air and it works wonders.

Have you any tips for playtime?

My final tip is making time for play. I know sometimes, especially my 5-year-old, will be looking for "Mummy can you play barbies with me?" or "Will you do LEGO with me?".
If your child is constantly asking you to play, they are just looking to connect with you. You can help meet that need by giving them five minutes of your absolute undivided attention. Then you may be able to get on with other things you have to do.
Some ideas are making bubble volcanos, a quick and easy activity; water play; set them a task to build something using LEGO, such as a house for their teddy; get creative with artwork ideas; or make some "gloop" by adding food colouring and cornflour to some water.

To watch the full Instagram takeover by Karen from Primarylinks, head along to our Instagram page (by clicking here).

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