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Early Years Teacher Tips for Home Learning During the Pandemic

To help support Early Years home learning, our pre-Nursery and Nursery teachers would like to pass on their 'Teacher Tips' each week. Their experienced team has so many ideas and they will all contribute. They will be published here every Monday in following several weeks. 

26th March, 2021

Household chores for children

Children can learn a lot from doing household chores.

Doing chores helps children learn about what they need to do to care for themselves, a home and a family. They learn skills they can use in their adult lives, like preparing meals, cleaning, organising and keeping a garden.

Being involved in chores also gives children experience of relationship skills like communicating clearly, negotiating, cooperating and working as a team.

When children contribute to family life, it helps them feel competent and responsible. Even if they don’t enjoy the chore, when they keep going they get the feeling of satisfaction that comes with finishing a task.

And sharing housework can also help families work better and reduce family stress. When children help out, chores get done sooner, and parents have less to do. This frees up time for the family to do fun things together.

Here are some tips how to incorporate chores into your child's life:

  • Start by choosing chores that work for children’s ages and abilities
    Here are some ideas for chores for children of different ages:
    • Ages 2 to 3 - put toys and books away, fill pet's food dish, put clothes in laundry basket or on clothes hooks, wipe up spills, dust, set placemats on the dinner table
    • Ages 4 to 5 - make their bed, pull weeds (if you have a garden), use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs, water flowers, unload utensils from dishwasher, wash plastic dishes at sink, set the table for meals, help with preparing meals (under supervision), help with grocery shopping and putting away groceries
  • Let the children help you and show them the way
    Invite your child to help you with housework even if it makes the job take longer. Be patient, demonstrate how to complete the task and do it together until your child can do it on their own.
  • Be specific with instructions
    'Clean your room' is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Instead, be explicit by saying, 'Put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box.'
  • Praise you child
    Keep up positive vibes by offering specific praises for actions. 'You hung your coat on the hook and I'm proud of you!' or, 'Thank you for helping to put away groceries!' This constant communication helps children take initiative in other situations, such as at school.
  • Manage your expectations
    When you ask a 5 year old to make their bed, it may still be lopsided. Don't criticize. Recognize a job well done. The next time you make your own bed, show them how you do it.
  • Avoid rewards
    Save rewards for tasks that go above and beyond what you expect to be your child's normal household responsibilities.
  • Provide structure and routine
    Create a list of every job it takes to keep a family going and have the children pick out the chores they'd most like to do. Then create a chart. First, check that everyone has an age-appropriate chore. Then divide the chart into three columns. One is for the list of chores and whose chore it is; another is for deadlines; the last one is for making a check mark when the chore is done. Put the chart where everyone can see it and let everyone follow through on their own assignments. You might actually find it easiest to have two charts: one for daily household chores and one for weekly household chores. For younger children you might want to use a chart with pictures and mark completed tasks with stickers.

You might argue that chores take up time you could be spending with your children, but chores can actually create special moments between children and adults. By being given responsibility, your little ones will feel important and valued, and will gain important life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Ms Eliška

19th March, 2021

Let's be active together!

Whilst we are in lock down due to Covid-19, our physical activities decrease naturally. It is a challenging time for all of us and it is important to keep active every day. 

The modern life with TV and sofa, computer games and other digital devices keep us sitting down for a lot of our time. However, our bodies are designed to move, and it is important to offer physical activities not only to ourselves but especially to your children. They need to walk, run, jump, and move to be healthy and to expend the right amount of their energy. 

Fresh air and exercise help the children sleep better and these contribute to their positive and balanced energy. Body movement and exercise keep children's bones healthy and encourages muscle strength and flexibility. We need to be consistent and schedule physical activities in our daily life. For the children, play is a natural way to support their physical development.

 Take your children outside and play ball games, tag, frisbee, trampoline, swing ball, skipping, backyard cricket, hopscotch, skateboarding, skipping or ride a bike together. Go for a walk to your local park and play hide and seek or ball games.

There are also many activities to support your child’s physical development that you can do at home. Have a disco in your living room with your favourite music. Make a den using chairs, tables, blankets and pillows. Make an obstacle course using different objects you find at home (stools, jumpers, blankets). Arrange a fashion show where your child parades in the dressing up costumes. Play musical statues or just dance around to your favourite songs. Involve your child in helping with the household jobs such as vacuuming, sweeping the dust or help in the garden. 

It might be tricky to balance work, household jobs and schedule physical activities, however, let’s remember they will definitely make us feel better, stronger and happier!

Ms Silvie

12th March, 2021

Supporting language development

Speech, language and communication skills are crucial to young children’s overall development. Being able to speak clearly and process speech sounds, to express ideas and interact with others are fundamental building blocks for a child’s development. Research shows that the more words adults speak to children, the better language skills children develop. It is vital that children hear talk and engage in ‘real’ conversation. Here are some tips to support your child’s language development at home.

 

  • Tune in and talk about whatever has caught your child’s attention, this is an opportunity to support language development by responding to their curiosity or interests. For instance, when they spot an insect whilst out for a walk, describe what it looks like, wonder where it lives, what it eats or where it’s going. This is a wonderful way for your child to learn new words in context which in turn extends their vocabulary.
  • Read stories together, make story time part of your evening bedtime routine. Talk about the story, the characters, how they feel, the setting and predict what might happen.
  • Enjoy music together, sing songs and rhymes, dance to a beat and make sounds with instruments or household items – Studies show that the children who engaged in musical experiences had higher levels of phonological awareness than those who did not. The development of music skills and language skills go hand in hand because music and language are served by the same underlying brain areas.
  • Talk, Talk, Talk – Encourage your child to be part of everyday routines, preparing food, going shopping, sharing family mealtimes around the table.
  • Never criticise your child's articulation or speech patterns. Instead, repeat the statements back with the correct pronunciation, for example if your child says “I goed to the park”, you repeat “you went to the park”.
  • Use television and computers sparingly. TV programs don't interact with or respond to children, which are the basic needs to learn language. And computer games may be interactive, but they aren't responsive to a child's creative thoughts and ideas.
  • And the most important of all, enjoy chatting and engaging with your young children, it’s magical!

Ms Lesley

5th March, 2021

Self-determined Time

Children need at least 2 hours per day to engage in self-determined play. This means time which is neither adult-led nor being passively 'entertained' by e.g. the television or digital device. 

This time should be uninterrupted by adults where possible (although you can support it by trying to find resources when asked!). However, please try to observe or photograph some of the play so that you can ask about it later. Try to ensure that you show you 'value' this time by asking your child to later reflect on and describe what they were doing. There is always a purpose and it's usually highly creative.

This time is vital for children to build neural links and process information from lessons, experiences, and adult interactions. Unfortunately, the rise of computers, digital games and televisions has eroded this time, instead children are often passively entertained.

Mr Alex