Home-schooling a six year old
At Christmas time there are plenty of apps you can download to keep the Santa Claus illusion alive. Personalised letters sent from Santa, boxes with personalised gifts delivered and much more. Helping keep the pretence and providing much needed leverage for parents: ‘if don’t stop misbehaving Santa will know, I’ll text him!’
(NOTE: don’t tell your child the alarm sensors in the rooms double as Santa Spy Sensors, it can backfire).
Sunday morning I woke-up thinking much the same as many of you, ‘How are we going to deal with being at home, altogether, juggling work and ‘home-schooling’? Our son is nearly 14 and self-sufficient but our six year old daughter?
Emails and messages from the school, logins for this site and that platform. Reams of paper with ‘tasks’ to do.
A thought came to me! I’ll set her briefs. Fun projects focused on topics, fold-in subjects in to learning about that topic (thanks Finland).
Wait. She’s six, if she figures our it’s me setting the briefs she’ll find reasons not to do it. I need some leverage.
I registered a gmail for our daughter. I created a pretend gmail for our Prime Minister. I wrote a welcome email from him to her, explaining the current COVID–19 situation. Setting out his hopes for all the school children in the UK. In the email our (faux) PM explains how the Education department and him would be setting Special Projects and posting a Special Project diaries and sketchbook to record her Special Project work to show her teachers when she returns to school.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. It might not be. I bought a notepad, sketchbook and large jiffy envelope from WHSmiths. I wrote her name and address, posted a stamp on it and placed it on the doormat this morning with a thud. I called her. She bounded down the stairs and opened it. We read the letter from Boris Johnson PM together, she was very excited.*
Looking, walking and talking
We take Bob dog for a walk in the morning and spend lots of time talking about nature. This morning we walked around Marble Hill Park. We read about the new trees they are planting and she wanted to find out what a ‘Black Poplar’ tree is (why is it rare?).
We made a list of questions and things she wanted to research and find answers for. So far her list is:
- Bio-diversity (Marble Hill Park mentioned the new trees would ‘enhance the local bio-diversity’)
- Grass: what is it made from?
- Indian Chestnut; another tree being planted
- Hippos — why do they have such big teeth if they only eat vegetables?
- Penguins — why can’t they fly, but can swim so well?
- Turtles — why the big shell?
- Dog years — Bob met Bella, who is 12. We worked out her age in dog years. Why are dogs years seven human years?
So far I have written a (faux) ‘Introduction’ email, a ‘welcome’ letter to accompany the diary and sketchbook and four ‘Special project’ briefs from the Ministry of Special Projects.
Aimed at giving her ownership and control during this time, setting-up her own home-school with us helping her, and then projects aimed to compliment her school work, but to be fun — an additional element that can take 30mins, or 3–5days:
Special Project 1: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Historical context of own name, create a name for their own home-school
Special Project 2: HOME-SCHOOL IDENTITY
Memory recall and designing a logo for their home-school
Special Project 3: BOREDOM BEATING BOARDGAMES
Creative thinking, making their own board game for them and their family to play
Special Project 4: CHALK IT UP
Mathematics and times-table practise, drawing their own hop-scotch obstacle course.
I am planning on staggering each one of these out over the next couple of weeks. 1–2 a week alongside the school work and activities provided by the school. These projects are just made-up by me. I will see how they go and update the GDrive folder along the way.
If you would like to use these copy and paste them, edit them, crack-on.
I’m sharing access to the Google Drive folder that contains the GDocs:
You can ‘view’ the docs, copy and paste them. Yes, I used Comic Sans. The school do too, bite me.
A quick note to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. I hope you do not mind me using your name, it was done with the best of intentions and my little girl was thrilled when she received the post from you, it had, so far, the desired effect. I say that, this is onlyDAY ONE!
- WARNING: obviously this presents a few problems. She tells everyone she got a letter from Boris Bohnson (I’ve told her it’s Johnson)
My friend Josh shared a useful link to other online activities available too: