The UK Government have now announced that all UK schools, colleges and nurseries are to close until further notice following the coronavirus outbreak.
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And with most parents already working from home or self-isolating, many mums and dads are struggling to work out how they’ll be able to juggle both remote working and childcare at this difficult time.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest news:
- Schools will stay open for children of key workers such as those parents who work in the NHS and cannot be at home. The government have advised that it is safe to still send these children to school during this time.
- If only one parent is a key worker, the other parent will be expected to take care of their child at home.
- Exams in England and Wales will not go ahead. It’s still not clear what will replace them. Decisions still haven’t been made for exams in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Private schools and sixths forms are also being told to close.
- Plans are currently being drawn up to ensure children that are eligible for free school meals won’t go hungry with the Government planning to offer parents vouchers in their place.
Ways to make homeschooling easier
With school out for the forseeable future, no exams and many parents struggling to work from home and home school and care for their children, the Government are continuing to provide support for parents and families having to educate children at home.
For children under 5, the Government have advised parents to head to hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk.
If you have older children and you are relying on the internet for them to access online learning tools, it's likely that your broadband connection will struggle to support the grown-ups working from home and the little ones learning from home. If this is the case in your household, the Government have reassured parents that they are working closely with broadband providers in the UK to improve connections and ensure UK homes have a good connection to the internet. You can read more about the resources and tools provided by the government to support home schooling here.
Looking for further support? Try the Sushi Monster app for help with maths, LifeTopix to organise your day, Brilliant Assignment to help older kids with their written assignments and the Screen Time app to track on control how much time your children's media use.
Ask the expert...
Bestselling author, mother and campaigner Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka and the founder of Flex Appeal (flexible working for all) has shared with us the tools she uses to educate her children and keep them entertained at home.
"Try TedEd – we have found this brilliant. They’re small, educational Ted Talks for kids that they can watch while you work. You can create your own lessons too – perfect for parents now home-schooling. Check them out here."
"Reading Eggs is also great for home-schooling. Children just work through it themselves, learning to read with games, songs and little motivational rewards to let them know they’re achieving. It alleviates any parental screen-time guilt too. That being said, I don’t feel guilty that they are on their screens more – we’re all just doing our best."
"It's also good to get creative, we’ve actually found boredom to be healthy. Kids are so rarely bored these days, and this their time to be as creative as they want. Coming up with their own games, using their imaginations and having fun with it. You can still incorporate this into their learning time and really enjoy the time with them," says Anna.
Best buys for homeschooling
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Parents are being advised not to ask grandparents to take care of children because of their vulnerability to the virus. This means many parents will be forced to miss work days or try and work flexibly around childcare. Ask your employer their advice during these strange circumstances before figuring out how you can make childcare and your job work for you.
Read more about how to work from home while looking after your child
How will schools help?
Many schools have set up helpful homework packs, online tutoring and also, many teachers are planning to run their classes online over video. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re clear on what your child’s teacher has planned before their last day.
What will children be allowed to do?
The same social distancing rules still apply to children at this time meaning they won’t be able to play with friends. The Government are currently working with the BBC to create more entertainment for children over the next few months.
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