I’ve been inspired by a FB Live I watched this morning, by a super woman, design & business powerhouse actually. Adrienne Whitewood of ahu boutique in my home town of Rotorua, New Zealand. I haven’t had the privilege of meeting her in person, but I have been a fan of her beautiful work in fashion for a while. What deeply resonated with me immediately while viewing the live, was her passion to give back to the community in these trying + testing times. I adore people who direct their energy towards solutions. The world is ever changing, we need to adapt and we need to do better. She offered tips on how to start an online business and various insights on how to manage an online store. This live had my brain churning all day. Making me ask ALL the questions! What can I do? What can I offer? How can I help?
We are currently in voluntary self isolation, doing our part to help flatten the curve of this virus in Western Australia. Only making essential trips out for grocery shopping and supplies. One way I thought I could ’give back’ during this time would be to share some simple ideas, activities and fun ways to help make the most of being at home with your tamariki.
We have decided to keep our children home from school until further notice. I have a 14 year old + a seven year old. As my daughter is in year 9 most of her learning resources and lessons will be completed online. My son who is in Year 2, however needs a bit more structure, planning and hands on learning experiences.
Given the current circumstances, it’s understandable things may be a bit overwhelming right now. I have to admit I had a bit of a freak out when the news first broke of what was going on. A quick phone call from Dad calmed my fears (and tears) as he helped me gain perspective and reminded me of what’s really important. Whanau and aroha. I drew strength from his words and got myself organised and drew up a plan.
I am just a Mum, sharing my experience, trying my best to support my whanau through these uncertain times. Here’s a few hints I’ve discovered, which are helping me navigate these uncharted waters. Hopefully they will be helpful for you too, if you find yourself in the same boat.
Have a daily schedule
Basing our new schedule off the regular class timetable is really working for us. It’s serving as a great guide and offers some familiarity from the school setting. My son responds well to routine and he likes to know what we will be covering and when. I have written up the daily plan on a clip board so he can see it, setting it out day by day. It’s simple, clear and manageable.
Tackle learning tasks in the morning
We do all of our school work in the morning when concentration levels are their highest. We leave the afternoons free to do family things like gardening, baking, cooking, games, chores + learning life skills.
Not everything has to be a written lesson or activity
Everyday experiences can become an opportunity for learning. Working in the garden, fixing or cleaning something or even hanging the washing can provide rich learning experiences. Use pegs to count, add and subtract to work out simple equations. Get them to hang small items by pinching and attaching the pegs to a clothes horse to strengthen their fine motor skills. Talk about the different colours they can see, can they name them all? Ask them questions like, how many socks can you find? Can you count them in two’s? Have those conversations. No doubt you will be confined to your whare and your babies will be sticking close to your side, think about how you can bring them along while you complete your daily tasks. Talk, explain, describe, demonstrate, ask questions and take turns. Allow them to teach you! It’s all valuable!
Make lessons fun
Our lessons are short but engaging. As we are stuck at home for sometime I think it’s important to make lessons as enjoyable as possible. We get the more challenging tasks done first thing and always finish with something fun like Music, Art or Science. It really helps with motivation to have something exciting to look forward too. The amount of resources, tutorials and activities available online are almost limit less, use them!
We have a few supplies + some materials on hand ready to go so we aren’t wasting time finding things. It ain’t fancy, but it works! Everything is kept neat and put away ready for next time. A basic supply of pencils, a sharpener, a ruler, scissors, a glue stick and a few exercise books and we are set.
Improvise, invent, innovate
You don’t need a tonne of expensive supplies or resources. Use what you have at home. Collect pieces of cardboard for projects and boxes to store craft materials. Old magazines, scrap paper, cardboard tubes, cereal boxes – they are all useful.
Set up your space
Have a dedicated work space that is comfortable, with good chairs, air flow and good natural lighting. That way your children know it’s time for learning when they are in this space, I find it really helps to maintain a sense of calm in the home if everything is tidy and ready to go. We use our dining table so they have plenty of room and have a simple storage shelf which holds all of our resources. Once we are finished for the day everything gets packed away tidily ready for next time.
In all of this, it’s so important to look after yourself so you can look after the ones you love. If you need a break, allow it. Everything is changing constantly so allow flexibility to feature in your daily life. Take care, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sing songs, share stories, play games, make something together, skype friends + family. Encourage, support and nurture. We are parents first so don’t place extra stress or pressure on yourself to be the ‘perfect ‘ teacher. Stick to what you know and what interests you, share your passions with your tamariki and enjoy this time together. While we maybe isolated physically, we have the advantage of staying connected online showing awhi and support for one another, so let’s work together and make the most of it.