This is a post for YOU – the home-schooling heroes. We know it’s been a complicated and tough year for parents, educators and students alike.

Firstly of course it goes without saying that we need to give a big thank you to the teachers and carers looking after children with parents who are key-workers or similar. Those that are education/childcare key-workers are doing a brilliant job at facing all the challenges thrown their way, and just mucking through to ensure every kid is cared for. Teachers are managing and overseeing classes of 15-25 from afar. I am pretty sure the majority would much rather be in a classroom interacting with their students than doing live/recorded lessons but they are doing all they can to provide the tools to help families, and many are quietly going above and beyond.

Next up is a well done to the students learning to adapt. The youngsters under 10 are of course missing their friends, bouncing off the energy that takes place in the classroom, and it can be a really critical learning time for them. However, I’m also thinking of the teenagers and higher education youngsters – while generally they can be a lot more independent in their learning, they still thrive when they get that support from friends and teachers. It’s just as important a time in education for them too. I really feel for all the young people forced to adapt. It’s not easy and even when it’s not going right – it needs to be forgiven because it is a really challenging mental change. With that said the parent’s need a hearty round of applause too, for you’ve been thrust upon a new form of responsibilities. I can’t imagine the challenges of trying to keep up with the modern workbooks and techniques and keeping your kids focused on the education – but know that you are doing your best, and that’s all you can do.

With our thanks and applause given; we have been thinking about the ways we can extend our care and support for all those mentioned. The simplest way we could think of, was providing you with a handy guide of resources and ideas to provide some inspiration on the days when you’re lacking it.

English and Maths are the most critical topics of all, and the only way to improve is to work hard and keeping working at it. It’s tricky to make them fun at times, but it’s not impossible. Think of the fun activities you like to do, then think of the ways you can bring these subjects into it. Maybe bring maths into baking, or do a writing task after watching a film?

The Arts are a sector that really need our help (which you can learn more about if you visit our sister company GrapevineLIVE) – and believe it or not they can be a brilliant fun way to keep educated, whether that be through the story being told or the ways you can look at it afterwards. A few local companies have been using the arts to provide some educational fun, one being Red Rose Chain which you can read about here: redrosechain.com/lockdown – be sure to follow them on social media to see what’s next. Local company, Spinning Wheel Theatre have an audio book from their production of The Velveteen Rabbit here, with some activities to go alongside it. The Mercury Theatre in Colchester also have a range of projects available online at mercurytheatre.co.uk/mercury-online for a range of ages and skills. On a nationwide scale, Official London Theatre have collated a wide range of theatre-linked educational resources which can really pack some fun into your learning.

Food may not be on the core curriculum, but it’s essential to our daily routine. I feel now more than ever is a great chance to hone in on those culinary skills. Think of ways you can make healthy food fun – why not start the days with a colourful fruit bowl and sneak the likes of some seeds, nuts, coconut, flaked almonds or ground flax-seed, in there and mix with yogurt? Think of how you can use your vegetables in inventive ways – did you know you can make a vegan Mac’n’Cheese from a butternut squash? Or even just a simple banana loaf (yes, we all hit that point of lockdown right?). Food science is exciting and fun to challenge. Encourage the kids to help you prepare meals or create bakes so they can see what goes into it, and I bet they’ll love it even more for the fact they got to be involved.

Getting creative can be a great stress release for all of us – be it colouring, drawing, painting or crafting. It accesses a different part of the mind, and can still have a link to being educational. Can you think of a way to involve maths, science, or words? Is there a topic that inspires creativity – maybe history or geography? What about a project like the Suffolk Libraries Scarecrow Trail?

There’s a plethora of ways to learn, of course they core pieces of work need to be completed where possible; but don’t be afraid to try and turn the everyday into an opportunity to learn. A brilliant local website called suffolkhomeschooling.co.uk is also providing a wealth of resources and inspiration. There are so many brilliant tools that have been made available online, that the world truly is our oyster!

No matter what, we are all doing our best in this tough time – so don’t be too hard on yourselves or your little ones. We will get there! Here’s to all home-schooling heroes big and small – give yourself a round of applause, you deserve it.

We would love to hear your home-schooling stories – how have you found the experience? What have you learned? What are your tips or favourite resources? Message us via social media.