As you will now be aware, school will be closed from Monday for everyone except those children on a child protection plan, at child in need level, or those whose parents are key workers who have no other way of looking after their child while they deliver critical services to the country. The guidance is clear:
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.
For those whose children are staying at home, can I please reiterate what I said in my recent letter: Ensuring that your children feel loved is the most important job that you can do over the next bit of time. If you can, and want to help them with the learning, then great, but if you and they have other priorities, don't worry about it. Give yourself a break. You know your circumstances and your children best, and will do the best for them. If you want to keep to a routine, and/or do some learning at home, we'll put some suggestions on the class pages. If you only have one computer, which you need for work, don't worry about it. We'll try to put some suggestions on for things they can do without a computer. If you can't support, for whatever reason, don't worry - we'll meet the children wherever they're up to whenever we're back, and take it from there; it's what we're experts in!
From the letter:
"Whatever your circumstance next week, it is inevitable that both you and your children will be feeling unsettled due to the changes to normal life. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our tension and anxiety. They (and we) have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off school might sound awesome, they will still be feeling some mixed emotions, particularly about not seeing friends and the change to their routine.
Over the coming weeks, you may see some changes in behaviour with your children as a result. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally, it may happen. You may also see more meltdowns and tantrums in the coming weeks: This is normal and expected under these circumstances.
What children need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. Whilst we will send home some things to do, and put some learning opportunities on the website, the most important thing is that you let them know how loved they are. If you can, play outside or go on a walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.
Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single child is in this boat and they all will be OK. When they are back at school, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Over the next bit of time, your children’s mental health will be more important than their academic skills. If we can help them to feel loved, this is what will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during the next few weeks is long gone."