The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we think about work. Commutes have been replaced by endless video calls, and our work/life balance has become even harder to maintain than usual now that the majority of us are working in our bedrooms or at our dining tables. For working parents, however, the shift is even greater. School runs have been replaced with homemade timetables, as mums and dads find themselves trying to take on the mammoth task of teaching their children on top of their other responsibilities.
It’s a small wonder, then, that screens have become so integral to many family routines - both as a tool to find online teaching resources, and a way for parents to distract their children for an hour while they take that important phone call from the boss. But with that increase in screen time comes an increase in stress - after all, how can you be sure that your children are safe online without standing over their shoulder every hour of the day?
What is Natterhub?
Natterhub is a safe, gated social media platform that teachers can use to teach children how to thrive online. It features easy-to-follow, age-appropriate interactive lessons - all built to align with the following aspects of the curriculum:
- RSE (all targets with a digital slant)
- PSHE (online targets)
- UKCIS Education for a Connected World (all targets)
We also include high-quality content like activities, news reports and meditation sessions, designed to support children with their home learning.
As tempting as it might seem sometimes, we cannot keep children off the internet entirely, or wrap them up in virtual cotton wool while they’re online. The best way to keep them safe is to make sure that they are resilient and empathetic digital citizens. We do this through a variety of lessons, covering everything from recognising fake news and the reasons why people manipulate information online, to dealing with online bullying in a safe way.
It’s also important to give children a sense of accomplishment for learning these vital life skills. Natterhub awards pupils with ‘Badges of Honour’, which can be powered up by taking part in lessons, completing quizzes or demonstrating safe online behaviour.
How to get the most out of home learning
We understand that parents want to make sure their children’s education isn’t suffering - especially since it is uncertain how long the current situation will last, or when schools will reopen. However, it is important to remember that home learning cannot fully replace the school experience - that mindset is unhealthy for parents and children alike.
The most essential thing is to create a routine that is easy to follow. The guidelines put out by the National Education Union recommend that children do a maximum of three hours a day, but this doesn’t necessarily mean working for three uninterrupted hours. Make sure children are taking regular breaks and aren’t overwhelmed by the work they’re being given - don’t forget, the pandemic will be taking a toll on their mental health as well.
It also doesn’t necessarily mean doing the worksheets provided to them by parents or teachers. Spending an hour of ‘PE’ by watching a workout video or playing in the garden (if you’re lucky enough to have one), reading a book, or doing something creative like painting or baking could all be educational, if your child is reflecting on what they’ve done. You could encourage them to keep a journal where they can write about what they’ve learned from various activities, and be honest about how productive they are.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t drive yourself mad by worrying about whether your child is doing enough learning. Remember that this moment is utterly unprecedented, and there’s no such thing as the perfect way to live through it. As long as you and your family are happy, and healthy, you’re already doing enough.