How can we ease the twin pressures that a new lockdown and return to home-schooling impose on children? Members of our whole Harrodian community share their tips on coping in challenging times.
For some children, regardless of learning needs or behavioural difficulties, it is a real challenge to say tuned-in to online lessons. Sarah Codacci-Pisanelli (Head of Learning Support/Senco for the Upper Prep to Sixth Form) and her colleague Ruth Andrews (Senco for Pre-Prep and Lower Prep) have received phone calls from both teachers and parents, seeking their advice on how to keep pupils/children engaged during remote lessons. They created a shortlist of tips, most of which are applicable to all children, for sharing with the wider school community. Please find the list below (or as a printable download at the bottom):
We wanted to share just a few tips with everyone, to flag that we are here to help and that we have more resources available too.
Sarah Codacci-Pisanelli, Head of Learning Support and Safeguarding Designated Lead (Prep School)
The Learning Support team is currently providing most of its pupils with online lessons according to normal timetabled sessions. However, Sarah and Ruth have kept some of their timetable free to take phone/video calls from parents, teachers or students who need some extra advice or resources. Sarah has been working in Learning Support for 14 years and was a Harrodian parent herself for over a decade. Since September, she has also taken on the additional role of Designated Safeguarding Lead in the Prep School – a natural fit with her counselling experience. Asked for the reasoning behind her list of tips, she says:
“We are gaining a real insight into the lives of some of these children during the lockdown as we work 1-to-1 with them. Screen exhaustion, the lack of social interaction or validation and the need for multi-sensory learning are just some of the challenges. We wanted to share just a few tips with everyone, to flag that we are here to help and that we have more resources available too.”
Many of our pupils and their families are already following some of these tips and have also created their own initiatives. One such Harrodian, Farrah in the 11s, is determined to overcome the challenges of lockdown by making sure that she stays both mentally and physically fit. Every day she encourages her two younger brothers and father to go for a run.
She has also been inspiring others to exercise on her official Instagram account where she shares daily challenges and workouts. She receives such lovely messages of support and, with over 1000 followers, she is really trying to make a difference.
Prioritise getting outside for some exercise, even if it's a little bit, as it will make a huge difference to your state of mind
Farrah, 11s (Year 7) pupil
Farrah is also throwing herself into the Harrodian Lockdown Tour, a challenge that was recently set by the Sports department. The goal is to cover the distance of London to Paris virtually by joining together everyone’s efforts in a sport that can be done outside in fresh air, independently or in household bubbles like running, cycling or walking. Determined to motivate and help others to exercise, she shares her home-schooling tip for the week:
“Prioritise getting outside for some exercise, even if it's a little bit, as it will make a huge difference to your state of mind and you will feel so much better and stronger for the week ahead.”
Meanwhile Bryn Davies, Head of 11s, is committed to reducing some of the screen time of his pupils. He set them a year group challenge to practise making origami cranes during Wednesday morning form times. In Japanese culture, the crane is the symbol of hope and longevity and folding 1,000 of them in paper signifies the chance to make one special wish come true. In some variations of the tradition, happiness and eternal good luck is granted, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury.
When the children are finally allowed to return to school, Mr Davies would like all of the 11s pupils to have made 10 cranes each. When these are all hung up and displayed, there will be 1,000 origami cranes in total. By engaging the whole year group, rather than just a few individuals, the challenge aims to show how collective effort can really make a difference, especially relevant when coming together to get through a pandemic.
One of these pupils, Sasha, has really thrown herself into the task and unbeknown to Mr Davies, has been into the art of paper-folding from the age of seven. She has already finished all ten of her cranes (having actually made 56 of them in total!) and her latest lockdown creations have included dragons, birds, flowers, paper balloons and interactive types of origami, such as: ninja stars, transforming flexahedrons, magic stars, magic circles, magic spiral cubes, and even stress toys!
“Whenever I feel I need to take a break, I just start making all kinds of different origami. It is a really fun way to relax, using your hands to create something beautiful,” she says. “My tip is, give origami a go, buy a special origami paper pack and follow the instructions. It makes a change to looking at a screen and is so rewarding when you have created something.”
My tip is, give origami a go......it is a really fun way to relax, using your hands to create something beautiful.
Sasha, 11s (Year 7) pupil
We are very keen to hear from other Harrodians about their home learning initiatives or tips. Please do get in touch and send photos and stories to email@example.com.
For advice and help with online learning issues, or further resources relating to attention difficulties online, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Codacci or Ruth Andrews in our Learning Support team. (Below in the ‘downloads’ section you can find a printable pdf version of their tips, together with more specific ADHD-related resources such as diet suggestions and sensory strategies.)