The first ever Fern Mail should have arrived in your inboxes. If it hasn't then please ping me a quick email and I will send it straight to you.
Happy Friday Fern Class, thank you for being wonderful and have a brilliant Easter.
Each class now has their own email address. This is ours firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to email me pictures of your work, tell me what you have been doing or if you want to ask a question then please do get in touch, I will check the emails regularly in 'term time'.
I look forward to seeing some more of your work and hearing all about what you have been doing.
A thought / challenge to start the week
My 2 boys had this sent through from their school on Friday. I think it is wonderful and wanted to share it with you all… People across the country have been painting rainbows and displaying them on their windows to spread cheer during the national lockdown. It comes as children across the country have been displaying drawings of their rainbows in their windows to show support for NHS workers. If you would like to join in the effort too then paint a rainbow and display it in your window. If you want to take picture to show me I would love to see them.
I am very excited to tell you all that Greenpeace have replied. They sent us a letter, some posters and calendars. Here are photos.
Sorry about the side ways photo, no matter what I do it keeps up loading side ways on!
Dear Fern Parents,
As Friday and the weekend beckons I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support this week; it has been fabulous to have such positive emails from parents and children. I am very proud of all of you.
I saw this on a group chat with some ‘mum friends’ from my children’s school. A lot of them are trying to work from home and ‘teach’ their children. Even after just a few days of this they have all found it challenging (as am I!) . Then this forward was very well received on the chat so I thought I would share it with you too. It was written by a Headteacher in Hastings. I hope it reassures you all that what you are doing at home will be okay, anything is better than nothing. I am still hopeful this won’t carry on for too long but in the meantime I hope this helps...
Dear Parents and Carers,
Lots of people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by everything that's happening.
This includes the work being sent home for your child. I wanted to just give my perspective on it all as a Headteacher and I hope this can help with that somewhat.
A few points to note first:
1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting on the whole world. Let's keep perspective.
Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child's school teacher in whatever form you choose. This is, at best, distance learning.
In reality, it's everyone trying to separate their bums from their elbows, because none of us know what we're doing and what's right and wrong here.
2) You are, and always have been, your child's primary educator.
If you decide that your child isn't going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, then that is your choice.
That is your right. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.
3) Schools don't know what they're doing either. They had no notice, no preparation time and we were NOT told to 'continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home' – that’s NOT possible. If it were, we'd all be out of a job!
4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense.
If you're trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.
So, a few FAQs:
- My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!
You're not, don't try. Your child's teacher spent a couple of hours in utter panic gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there wasn't a lot of complaints that enough didn't go home.
It's not a competition, or a race, it’s unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.
- My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop? Ahhhhhh!
See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried they're not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don't if they don't suit. If you're getting stressed, stop opening the emails. No one will know!
- Someone in my child's class has everything done and we've barely started. Will they fall behind?
Even if everything were equal in terms of support, time and number of children (which it’s not) all children learn at different rates. In the class there's a wide range of levels in all subjects, there's different paces and there are many children working on differentiated levels of work.
It's almost impossible for teachers to differentiate at the moment, so you don’t have to do it either.
Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If children could all learn new concepts without specific teaching, we wouldn't need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.
- I'm not doing any work with my kids. All they're doing is building Lego, cooking and playing outside.
All of this is learning -very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.
- How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?
You can't, stop trying. If they're old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.
- So what's the bare minimum you'd expect?
For me, survival mode. I won't pretend that may be true of all teachers, but you know what?, if they can't have perspective in a time like this then I wouldn't overly worry about their opinion anyway.
My ideal for the children in our school?
- A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)
- Some free writing now and then. If they'll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?
- Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games, physical or digital.
- Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.
- Physical exercise everyday
- Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn't need to be guided.
-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.
- If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.
You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time.
Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health.
Don't let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.
*Apologies, this post is much longer than anticipated! *
Key Workers and School Opening
All the classes are continuing to share this Government statement as a reminder of why schools are doing what we are doing.
If you are not already aware of this; please read this carefully. It is taken directly from the government website and stresses the importance of keeping our children at home as much as possible. We are being asked to do this, not only for the safety of our own children, but for the sake of critical key workers, their families, for the health and well-being of the community and without sounding dramatic the country too. Your support in this is very much appreciated.
The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings (including early years settings, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Thank you all for your support and understanding in this.
I hope you are all as well as possible. These are challenging times so please do not feel this is something you absolutely have to adhere to but I have put together a suggested time table. It is simply a suggestion - I have not included times as some children are early risers and some are not! This is just an idea/ guide, hopefully something you will find useful.
Home learning packs have already been sent home; in addition to these I will be setting work every day. This will be posted on the class page of the school website and will have a variety of English, Maths and Topic based activities.
If possible go into the garden for some fresh air, play a simple catching game or some fun running races – these are a good way to wake the brain up. If this is not possible we use Jump Start Jonny in class and he will definitely wake you up! https://www.jumpstartjonny.co.uk/
Start with some reading – talk about the book, discuss the story and get the children to spot sounds/ spelling rules they know. They can lead you on this and you can use the sound mats (sent home in busy books) to help you see the sounds they know. This activity could last up to 20 minutes.
Reading and writing complement each other so I would then suggest a writing activity. There are several in the pack provided or on the home learning activity sheet. There are also the obvious options of the children writing stories or diaries. They could also write letters (these could be posted to elderly relatives). In class we focus on quality not quantity. It is important that the children have used their phonics to sound out words and can read their work back. We have also worked really hard on letter formation and size so these can be discussed. All the children are familiar with redrafting so once discussed and spellings corrected and work has been edited the children are in the habit of writing a second draft.
At this point (if not before) I would recommend a break – ideally another outside activity or some kind of creative play.
When having a go at Maths it could be a good idea to start with a counting activity – you could always play uno or use playing cards to play matching pairs. These activities help tune the children into numbers. Then have a go at a Maths activity. I would suggest always having apparatus out to help, you could have coins, counters or a ruler for a number line.
Make sure everyone has a proper lunch break, again, if possible I would suggest some fresh air or something active.
After lunch there are some topic based activities; these have been thought through so the children can be more independent. There are also Science and creative ideas in the packs. If it gets to the point where everything is a struggle then games like Cluedo, Monopoly, Rummikub, matching pairs, Connect 4 and Boggle are great fun and will keep them thinking.