Keeping sane at home with children during the Coronavirus

Keeping sane at home with children during the Coronavirus

Tips for keeping sane at home juggling children, homeschooling and working from home during the Coronavirus or COVID-19 lock down and social distancing period.

Keeping sane at home as COVID-19 is spreading through the UK is difficult. We are now asked not to leave home unless absolutely necessary. Schools are closed and we are now faced with having our children home out of education for many months.

Parents are now juggling working from home, no childcare, no family help, and children homeschooling. So how as parents do we survive?

Keeping Sane at Home – Outdoor Space

While we are home bound and only allowed to leave for exercise once a day, this one chance might be our only chance to be alone. For many it will be the only chance to get fresh air. Let’s make the most of it. Put your favourite music on, or an audio book and breath in the fresh air. Clear your mind and try to reset whilst maintaining social distancing. The weather will slowly be getting warmer. Although it might be extremely difficult to enjoy life being in a lock down, let’s try to call out the things we are grateful for. Health if you have it, family safely at home, the ability for us to be together with our children. This terrible COVID-19 virus can perhaps bring us closer together.

If you take the children out for a walk,  collect rocks, sticks and flowers. Use them to play with later at home, make a fairy garden or a dinosaur jungle. If you can, go to your local beach, woods or even just play in your garden. All these activities are going to help improve everyone’s mood and mental health. Both of which may suffer during this difficult time, but keeping sane at home will have to be our priority.

The key is Routine!

The trick to keeping sane at home is routine. Never has a routine been so important for both you and your children. No matter how old your children are, they will still need to have a routine. Ensure that they get up every morning, get washed and dressed as if they were still attending school, nursery or childcare.

Do not try to set a crazy schedule where you have every minute of every day planned out. Be realistic with how much time you will have to supervise activities, especially if you have to work from home as well. Keep it simple!

One of the best schedules I’ve seen is by Jessica Mchale. It is easy to follow and based on her children’s ages. This can be a starting point for you depending on your children’s ages and how manic your days are at the moment.

School is out but not forgotten

Although school is now out for the foreseeable future it does not mean it should be forgotten. But realistically you cannot replace your child’s teacher. During these uncertain times education may look different. Maths may be helping with the weekly food budget or setting up a snack shop at home. Science may be growing your own fruit and vegetables. Let’s not forget to involve our children in daily chores. Now is the best time to teach children life skills like cooking and doing laundry. 

Due to coronovirus many schools are also sending assignments to do at home. These activities will help children keep busy, but let’s not forget that children are also axcious about the unbelievable disrubtion COVID-19 brought to their life. Ensuring they are feeling safe and secure will have to take precedence. Remember, millions of other children in the world are in the same boat. They will be fine if they miss their homework in these crazy times.

Virtual Get Togethers!

Social distancing is going to be the hardest part for many people but especially us parents! We survive by having a fantastic network of mum friends who we can gossip with, vent about your day and have a good laugh at how surreal your life is!

In order to keep your sanity and not go nuts, set up some virtual dates with friends. These need to be when the kids have gone to bed and you can have some alone time to catch up with friends.

Coronavirus is not forever…

Keeping sane at home is going to be difficult over the next few weeks and months. As parents, we are now wearing many new hats that we never thought we would have to. But it will get better!

If we support each other and come together as a nation, we can beat this virus.  We can show that there are still amazing people in this world and as the human race we can grow!!!! 

Stay Safe!!

Finnish School System vs the UK

Finnish School System vs the UK

The Finnish school system is worlds apart from our current UK system. Are we in a position to be able to implement these kinds of changes in the UK?

The Finnish school system is worlds apart from our own but can we learn from this system? Can we make changes to our own education system and produce the same results?

Questions like these are asked about our current education system all the time. We are told that more children leave primary school unable to read than ever before. Exams are getting easier and our schools are oversubscribed and unable to cope. We have an increasing shortage of teachers and many that do teach hate the politics they have to endure! So where next?

There are no standardised tests

There are no standardised tests for children. The matriculation exam is the only mandatory test and it is set at the end of Vocational Senior High School. While in the UK children from the age of 6 are tested for their academic abilities.

Many say that without this testing system that we have in the UK it would be impossible for teaching staff to assess a childs progress. But the figures from Finland show a very different story. Their figures show that Finlands education system is far superior to that of the UK with 66% of students attending university and 93% of students graduating from High School.

Teachers have to be highly qualified

Finnish teachers have to sit a Masters degree before they are allowed to step into a classroom. Teachers are picked from the top 10% of the highest achieving graduates and because of this, they are given far more respect. Society grants them the same status as other professions, such as Doctors and Lawyers.

There are also many routes into teaching in the UK, with such shortages in qualified teachers this does seem to be quite a sensible option. But does that mean that our teachers are less qualified? Is children’s education severely impacted by a lack of quality?

Teachers have more freedom in the classroom

Teachers in the UK have to follow a strict curriculum with very little if any room for experimenting or change. This is one of the issues that teachers have is the lack of flexibility in the current curriculum that they teach.

The curriculum in Finland is less structured, there are no set texts and as the children are not tested there are no exams to teach towards. Lesson plans allow for greater flexibility and teachers are given complete control with regard to how they teach.

Another reason that Finland appears to lead the way is that because their teachers have such strong academic backgrounds they are fully supported. Their education system is not political so there are no boundaries to schools or teachers using experimental teaching techniques.

Homework isn’t widely used

It is not the case that there is no homework given in Finnish schools there is just significantly less of it than in British schools. In Finland, most of their education happens in the classroom which limits the amount of homework to begin with.

Due to parents knowing that their children are being taught by some of the most educated people in society, they fully support and back the teaching staff. This then means that time would otherwise be spent doing homework is spent building relationships with family and friends.

Children do not start school until they are 7 years old

Children do not start formal schooling until they are 7 years old. This is one of the biggest differences between the Finnish school system and the UK. Up until that time, they will usually attend a preschool, which 97% of children attend. Their preschools are also free to all!

This preschool time is all about learning through play, socialising rather than any academic learning. Now, this sounds very much like the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Foundation Phase that has been introduced in both England and Wales. The basic principles of these new curricula are learning through play rather than fixed academic lessons.

Finnish system in the UK feasible or not?

The Finnish education system could not be easily implemented in the UK. But that does not mean that it should be completely discounted. After all, the education of our children and generations to come should be the top priority.

Small changes are still changes and can be put in place with the least disruption. Could this be the way to repair our own education system? It could be the difference between us having a generation of thinkers, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers or not!

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk is better known for his electric car than for his school. Ad Astra is the private school available fully funded to his employees.

Elon Musk is the CEO and co founder of Tesla. He oversees all product design, engineering, and manufacturing of the company’s electric vehicles, battery products, and Solar Roofs. You are more likely to know him for the Tesla electric car, although for most of us they are out of our budget!

But what you probably did not know about him is that he also opened his own school called Ad Astra.  Ad Astra is no ordinary school, its curriculum is very heavy on science, math, engineering, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. The original purpose of the school was for Musks own 5 boys to attend but now the school has 30 students aged 7-13.

Elon Musk – Ad Astra

Elon Musk has some very different views on what children should be learning and what he deems to be a waste of time. Ad Astra brought these views to reality. Musk believes that studying human language, music and sport are fruitless. Instead, ethical and geopolitical problems are debated by the children.

In the next breath, the children are constructing weather balloons, battling robots or blowing things up (all in the name of education). The children decide on at least 50% of the c subject matter.

Elon Musk tuition fee

Elon Musk funds the school and there are no tuition fees for those children that attend. According to taxes submitted for Mr. Musk, it shows that he has given $475,000 to the school each year. This seems somewhat extravagant for a school that has only 30 pupils.

Children that think?

Elon Musk has produced an environment in which children can think for themselves. Where they can decide the ethics of each situation and also crucially when to make those tough decisions. 

Are these children better prepared for this brave new world than those that have studied a conventional curriculum? Have they missed out by not studying language, music, and sport? By not studying the arts will these children be devoid of human emotion?

Conventional Education

There is no comparison between a conventional curriculum and that of Ad Astra. A curriculum that is heavily devised by children, will only work for the type of child who is of that disposition. For those children that are not academic, the Ad Astra form of the curriculum would be unworkable.

Access to better facilities, better equipment, and far better entrepreneurial opportunities will set these children apart. Unfortunately, without a complete overhaul of the current education system and some serious financial input, anything like Ad Astra is simply unreachable for most schools.

Convential or Ad Astra?

Can you imagine what a school with 300 pupils could do with the same amount of financial backing as Ad Astra? While the Ad Astra kids are asking for flame throwers for an experiment there are schools that do not have enough basic equipment such as books, pens or pencils.

The world in which this generation of children are growing up in is a far cry from the one that many of us did. With this in mind surely our education system needs to move with the times. It needs to provide more opportunities for our children to think ‘outside the box’.

Ad Astra children will be better equipped for critical thinking and problem solving that is certain. However, how will they fare in a conventional school once they are too old to attend the Elon Musk school? The true test of the unconventional but interesting teaching style of Ad Astra will then be seen.

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

The UK has an education system that appears to be broken. Is it able to continue as it is or does it need to be redesigned taking influence from europe.

The British education system was once the envy of many countries. Is this still the case for a system that appears to be failing our children! What other options are available to us? Do we need to look elsewhere for reform and inspiration?

An Education System that is failing

As parents, choosing the schools that our children attend is one of the hardest decisions that we have to make. We are potentially determining their educational path for the rest of their lives. We are determining the opportunities that will be available to them and the culture, friends, and obstacles that they encounter.

Our education system can’t really be that bad, can it? GCSE grades continue to rise steadily across the UK, even amidst claims that the exams are getting easier. Exam regulators have been quick to state that exam pass rates don’t increase greatly because exam standards are kept the same across the board.

With reports that GCSE exams are getting easier, are we not taking away from all the hard work that our children put in. The endless hours of revising and coursework. The stress and worry they endure. Not to mention the extra hours that school staff gives up to ensure that each of our children reaches their full potential.

In the past few years, there have been claims that many children are leaving primary school unable to read. But is this the fault of schools or parents? Teaching a child to read should surely, for the most part, be the parents’ responsibility and not that of our oversubscribed schools and overworked teaching staff.

Other options available in education systems

There are other options available to us as parents. Some are not practical for many parents but there are some that show promise.

Homeschooling is an option that is available in the UK. I have to be honest, in my opinion, I do not agree with homeschooling and believe that children need to be in a school environment with their peers. This helps them with their social skills and gives them the opportunity to experience activities that they would not be able to if homeschooled. But I do have mum friends who either are or intend to take this route with their own children and I admire their dedication to their children’s education.

Another option is the Montessori approach. In these classrooms, you will find children of mixed ages learning through concepts and the use of natural materials. It is very much a child-centered education system based on observations of the children. Designed to encourage children to follow their instincts and interact with the environment around them.

Looking to Europe

Our education system requires some serious reform and reorganisation. But where do we look for this inspiration, it has to be to Europe, specifically Finland. They have one of the top education systems in Europe. A system where children have no formal education until the age of 7. Children attend preschool, kindergarten, and daycare that is free to those on low income and heavily subsidised for others.

The Finnish education system is based on learning through play. This is an aspect that British schools have tried to replicate in the form of the Foundation Phase for younger school children. Creativity and a ‘joy of learning’ are at the heart of their curriculum and they are not ashamed of this at all. Teachers are well trained and respected by both parents and politicians alike. There is no OFSTED-school inspection but instead, they use a system of self-assessment.

Broken or not?

To say that our education system is failing seems to be an exaggeration of the truth. Yes, our education system has problems, faults, and issues. But at the end of the day, we as parents should be taking responsibility for teaching our children the basic building blocks such as reading, numbers, and writing. However, it appears this may not be the case.

Does our education need a change of pace and to be brought into this new decade, of course it does. We need something fresh and different that helps create a generation of free thinkers and entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and fail. This I believe is the only way that we as a country will be able to succeed in this world!!!