By Helen Bigham
Growing up in the 1970s, my mum would tell me: “If you’re bored, find yourself something to do – or I will.” She was a local primary school teacher and job-shared with someone who loved art and English, whereas my mum preferred science, PE and maths. They split the week’s lessons, playing to their own strengths. When the sun was shining, this would be an opportunity to learn outside; a topical news piece could be covered in class that day. Education without planned targets to be hit provides the opportunity to go down unexpected paths but still have some structure and routine.
For parents, having to take on home schooling during the coronavirus crisis can be overwhelming, especially if you're trying to replicate school while fitting this around personal worries, work and family life. A more balanced and positive way of learning can lessen anxiety and pressure to do the best for children; listening to what they’re interested in and letting siblings share and develop passions.
On my daily walk I’m reassured that nature is carrying on regardless. Bird songs seem louder, air seems fresher with noticeably less pollution, and stars at night are brighter.This can all be linked to curriculum learning. Suntrap Centre, Waltham Forest Council's educational environmental space in High Beach, is offering activities via its website such as natural household dye-making, creating bird feeders, and tips to produce your own wildlife documentary! Just go to suntrapcentre.co.uk An online resource page full of help, advice and ideas to make life easier for families at home is now available at walthamforest.gov.uk/homeactivities.
There’s also the Waltham Forest 'virtual culture' programme which is supporting local artists, running a wide variety of activities online. These include a lively, fun dance session called ‘I’m a Banana Radio’ presented by DJ TBX (alias Rebecca Booker) and her son Max Danger. You can find it on Facebook every weekday from 3.30pm until 4.30pm. Alternatively, Anna Alcock from Inky Cuttlefish Studio in Blackhorse Lane is offering printmaking sessions on her YouTube channel which can be viewed via youtube.com/channel/ UCZGLrfgLq-PGBxIHGgtOETg.
My favourite children’s TV programme growing up was Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead – now is the time to follow this advice