Covid-19 Lockdown in the UK means school closure and stay-at-home time for children and young people. Initially, it feels like an unexpected holiday. Great. We all enjoy a break! The time at home, however, can soon turn to anxious, fractious, worrying uncertainty about what to do next and how to make the best of enforced school absence. This can include concern for:

[1] Parents:

With childcare, safety, food and family well-being. Difficulties mount with no clubs, friends, parks, shops, and timeout. No school or childcare. We are all stuck inside due to social limits imposed by ‘stay-at-home’ government guidance.

[2] Educational Closure:

For the potential loss of normal progression across the entire school system [3-18 years of age]. How can parents counter this impact upon education? What should they do at home to best support their children’s education?

[3] Covid-19 Virus Pandemic:

Facing implications or consequences of a Covid-19 pandemic for mental health, well-being and security of the whole family. Managing self-isolation involves organising priorities in terms of time, safety and food to sustain a good balance between work, rest and play. This means an even more difficult time management for those parents who are essential workers ensuring supply of resources, support and care for the rest of society.

A positive, purposeful and meaningful response to this challenge is tackling it as opportunity for new learning. LOCKDOWN LEARNING [LL] at home is our suggested approach to this challenge and offers a way to enjoy and ensure education at home. The LL has four parts: [1] the LL context; [2] LL method; [3] the LL content; [4] LL outcomes review.

The LL Context:

To establish and manage a structure and schedule routines that will work as part of daily home-life for at least a week. Time slots for a mix of activity should be discussed together and agreed beginning each week. Lockdown learning needs to reflect 3 principles in its process:

[1] Fairness

Talk, value, uphold fairness in assigning roles, discussing tasks and always giving respect for everyone’s contribution or viewpoint.

[2] Age-Related

Try to keep the detail or challenge linked with any task, activity or talk age appropriate. For example, listen and talk to young children about their own worries for safety or change [even very basic routines]. Teenagers, alternatively, may be worried about personal issues, friendships, using social media, their exams, grades and educational future. Listening is often more important than specific advice.

[3] Engagement/Inclusion

Involve all family members in every key part of the LL approach. Opinion, participation, ownership, are all key aspects to enabling and maintaining motivation and success in preparing and completing any and all learning activity.

LL Method:

LL is an approach to positive learning that can be applied to all areas of the school curriculum. It is equally relevant to any open-ended tasks and a variety of personal and/or shared activities for the whole family. The method takes up three Rs for positive learning: rights, rules, and relationships. Draw up an agreed short-list of [1] basic rights, [2] rules to observe and [3 more open-ended ways to relate to each other. Discuss and regularly review as well as apply in the ‘learning life’ of the family. Mum, or Dad, Granny, everyone is a potential learner. Ideas for deciding on content and tasks for specific subject-based and/or age-related tasks and topics can be found on your school learning platforms, on-line lessons set up for the Lockdown and in on-line media [for a useful e.g. see https://www.stem.org.uk/home-learning]. Please resist the temptation to shove these at your children as a distraction and leave the room. If you do not have a computer at home try obtaining paper materials from school or make use of TV. Finally, more detail of LL will soon be available in the LL Guidance pamphlet.

LL Content:

Personal social education is a key part of LL. A shared sense of self-respect and integrity is the over-all aim in managing positive interactions and facilitating supportive relationships between each member of the family. Views, understanding and beliefs really matter. Listening and showing positive regard are key. Positive psychology tells us authentic praise is a powerful teaching tool. Inauthentic praise, ridicule and sarcasm on the other hand are always corrosive, destructive and distort learning. LL provided in this way is a balanced combination of shared and private activity. It is, for instance, as much about preparing food, tidy up chores, as it is writing email, screen time, study, physical exercise, craft-work, or helping solve a Maths problem and listening to a younger sibling read aloud. It is important to set up and stick to the learning schedule. When something goes wrong [it will] it is important to use this setback too as a learning opportunity [resilience building] and share in a way of re-establishing the rules [mediation] or broken routine [resolution] and making it work.

LL Review:

ASK ALOUD how did we do? Together? Separately? Take soundings, views of aspiration achievement and when relevant levels of attainment in skills based activity. What did we learn? Where did we get it so right and then on occasion, so wrong? Which activity got stuck? When and where did disagreement lead to conflict? Did we sort it? Who took and/or will take responsibility for improving matters, finding an answer or seeking resolution? Most importantly, share in talking about what’s next? Is there something needs more work to improve/ Or something different to help in making further progress or trying out a new task. Draw up a new LL schedule. Make it for a week or perhaps fortnight. Longer if need be but beware losing the freshness and flexibility provided by a shorter time and regular review [shared by all].

So over-all: see challenge as opportunity. Learn together in the Co-vid 19 lockdown: stay at home, be safe, and be positive about deliberately setting up the management of an enjoyable time to work, rest and play. Finally, be ready always to have a laugh. Fun remains an essential fuel for running the best kinds of balanced healthy LL experience.