Letter to Parents
1st April 2020
Wednesday 1st April, 2020
I hope you have all had a lovely weekend and managed to find some time to get into the fresh air with your family once each day.
You have now had a week at home with your children and may be wishing for a little guidance on how to structure the day to help keep everyone and everything feeling a little more normal.
It is really important to take time to reconnect with your families and remember the simple things in life. The main focus for the next few weeks is to ensure you and your family are safe and your children feel supported. None of us at St Mary’s Primary School are expecting you try to run a normal school day for many reasons. You may be working from home yourself or you may have a partner or family member who is working from home and may not have access to enough technology, Wi-Fi, or table-top space to run ‘lessons’.
However, if you would like to build in a little more structure then here is some guidance that may help:
Be realistic about what you can do:
You're not expected to become teachers and your children aren't expected to learn as they do in school. Remember, the government has told us that schools have closed, exams have been cancelled and you haven’t elected to home school your children. However, we think that for many families, providing your children with some structure at home will help them to adapt. Please use the tips below to help you make this work for your home.
Experiment for the next week or two, then take stock. What's working and what isn't? Ask your children what they have enjoyed or found tricky.
Share the load if there are 2 parents at home. Split the day into 2-3 hour slots and take turns so you can do your own work. Remember that working in isolation from your usual workplace is intense and it is unlikely you would focus continuously for the same amount of time as you would do in the office. Also remember your child also has a more intense focus as they are usually part of a class of up to 30 friends.
Take care of your own health and wellbeing. This will be new for everyone in your household, so give it time to settle. Take a look at the links at the end of my letter to see some advice on mental health and wellbeing or look at the resources on our website in the school closure tabs. They are being added to each day.
Remember to ensure your children are safe on line. Take a look at our school website to see information and access many links that will help you keep your child safe when using technology to learn.
Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?
There is a lot of support available to keep your child safe online. Below are some useful links to help parents and carers:
- Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
- Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- Net-aware (support for parents and careers from the NSPCC)
Create and stick to a routine if you can. This is what children are used to. For example, eat breakfast at the same time and make sure you are all dressed before starting the ‘school’ day – avoid staying in pyjamas!
Involve your children in setting the timetable where possible. It’s a great opportunity for them to manage their own time better and it’ll give them ownership
Check in with your children and try to keep to the timetable, but be flexible. If a task/activity is going well or they want more time, go with it.
If you have more than 1 child at home, consider combining their timetables. For example, they might exercise and do maths together – see what works for your family.
Set up a working space if possible or needed, and at the end of the day have a clear cut-off to signal school time is over. A story is also a lovely way to end the day and your child will revel in the cosy comfort of a story with you.
Stick the timetable up on the wall so everyone knows what they should be doing when, and tick activities off throughout the day.
Distinguish between weekdays and weekends, to separate school life and home life.
Make time for exercise and breaks throughout the day
Start each morning with a PE lesson at 9am. We like using Joe Wicks in school, but you may have something else you use.
If you have a garden, use it regularly but only with your own family group. If you don’t, try to get out once a day as permitted by the government (you can be together outdoors but remember to stay 2 metres apart from other people who don’t live in your house).
Get your children to write/draw pictures in a diary to show what they did each day – this can also be a clear sign that the ‘school’ day has ended.
Other activities to keep children engaged throughout the day
Where you have more freedom in the timetable, make time for other activities. Add some creative time or watch a dance video from Go Noodle to get everyone’s heart-rate going.
Get your children to write postcards to their grandparents or to their friends or teachers.
Ask grandparents or other family members to listen to your children read (on FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype or a platform you regularly use or ask grandparents to read to younger children). This will be a lovely activity for people who may be self-isolating and really miss spending time with your children.
Give them chores to do so they feel more responsible about the daily routine at home.
Ask them to help you cook and bake. This is great way to learn maths.
Accept that they'll probably watch more TV/spend time on their tablets – that's ok but you might want to set/agree some screen time limits. Research shows that getting a good nights’ sleep helps your body and brain rest and repair. So ensure the tablet is switched off an hour or two before bedtime.
We have put some suggested timetables on the website if you would like guidance on this, but remember this may not work for you and that’s ok.
If you need to contact the school
You can use the email contact as usual (see above). This is a way for you to:
Ask any questions you may have about the learning activities that have been shared on our website. www.stmaryswrithlington.co.uk
Share what your child has been doing at home. This could be a few lines, a picture or photograph or even a voice note. (Of course this is also dependent upon your access to and knowledge of technology). Please don’t feel pressured to send something every day. Do what fits in with your family.
Ask for advice or help with routines or boundaries.
Staff have been organised in a rota system to come into school to look after the children of critical key workers and vulnerable children. Staff who are unable to come into school as they have underlying health conditions or they live with family members with underlying health conditions continue to work at home to plan activities for your children and continue with school development priorities.
It is important that we have as few staff in school as possible to reduce the risk of them catching the virus and passing it on to their loved ones at home.
We are running a rota system to ensure everyone is able to have their Easter holiday whilst maintaining our service for the children of critical key workers during the Easter break. Please note, we will not be open on Good Friday or Easter Monday, as agreed in collaboration with the Teaching Unions. We will also not be planning academic learning over the Easter break, but staff will share some fun activities on our website school closure pages. Please be advised that most staff will be taking their Easter break over the two week holidays. Additionally, the Free School Meal packed lunches will be suspended over Easter.
Please be mindful that staff will respond to conversations on Purple Mash during the school day between the hours of 9.00am and 3.00pm. Additionally, many teachers have their own children at home or family members they are caring for and so they may not be able to respond immediately to your questions. Everything is new and different for us all and as new guidance is sent from the government, we are all likely to evolve and change how we run the run the school day.
Finally, as always, please take care, follow the government guidance and stay safe. We are really missing you all and are so looking forward to seeing you as soon as we can.