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Learning in Lockdown! – Chinese HBL resources

If you’re feeling the fear (again) of what the next month may look like for homeschooling, then this post is for you. 

This was a post I had hoped wouldn’t be needed.  It’s a simple list of what worked best for us, during a 92 day period where our little family unit didn’t interact physically with another soul ……  the period when I put on three hats (wait, is that five hats?), with homeschooling three kids, and juggling work with homelife, for what felt like forever. Already my different WhatsApp school parent groups are pinging with endless updates on the news, and I’m getting flashbacks to the mayhem of 2020.

Despite the dreary external environment and chaotic internal one, this period of being locked-in together created some of the best family moments we’ve had (and some of the worst, but let’s forget that bit).  There was shared excitement from the kid-zone today when they learn that our humble Homeschool was about to reopen. The kids look back on their home-based learning time with great memories, and it also helped me to become much more engaged and embedded in their individual learning. 

What works for one won’t always work for all

The one thing I learnt last year was NOT to simply replicate school in our house. You home is not a traditional classroom.   And, for our well-meaning school teachers who tried to achieve this via Zoom, I ended up telling them politely that we’d not always be able to participate in all their remote learning classes and suggested home learning activities, because they brought more frustration than it was worth.  I felt bad, but I had to follow the kids, and my own limitations.  Much loved classroom teachers are not always the best in virtual form (it really takes a different skillset and something better than Zoom to engage children meaningfully through the screen), and I didn’t have the time to sit through their sessions alongside my kids (especially when it was three at once on separate computers).  

What worked best for our homeschooling journey

I’m sharing list of what worked for us, in the hope it brings a little comfort to you. If you’re randomly googling how to survive HBL (home-based learning) and virtual schooling during lockdown, please know that we can get through this period together, united, yet separated.  You might be in panic mode trying to remember where the spare printer cartridge is and the glue gun, as the burden on mumschooling + entertaining for an entire school holiday indoors is upon us again.  But you’ve done it before, and you know what works best in your ‘hood. Mums often know best.

There are numerous online platforms and resources that offer lessons (both free and paid for), activities, quizzes and so on, which could potentially be better (or at least a good complement) compared with the work assignment by the teachers. Most of our family’s focus for external support resources was on Chinese, since that’s where we needed it most, with no one in the family able to help the kids.  Where I could, I’ve linked in the blog post to more detailed reviews I’ve written about the resources we liked the most.

These lists are not in any way exhaustive. I’m sure there are many better things out there. And you don’t need everything. Actually, really just focus on filling the needs you need (e.g. is it a specific time with no interruptions from the kids? a particular understanding of a math concept? writing practice? indoor entertainment? etc), and find something great which works, and add it into the routine. We found the huge long lists circulating lists of free online resources and museum visits etc made available during the pandemic were all amazing, but they also took an even bigger amount of energy for the parent to vet, then explain to a child how to use, etc, and then they didn’t last long, and sometimes they just weren’t on point for us. Remember, you really don’t need everything! So why stress on that.

This list is not a homeschool curriculum. It is just what worked for us, without breaking the bank, to fill the void of 3 months of mumschooling whilst we were unable to attend school. Most of these resources we’ve loved so much (especially the Chinese ones) that they’re now incorporated into our regular daily routines, even post the first Circuit Breaker. I’d love to hear your recommendations and suggestions too on resources which have really worked long after the pandemic.

This wasn’t meant to be a long or preachy post (it’s getting that way, I can tell already). But this cannot be shared without a final disclaimer to remind us all that kids need YOU, not technology or things as a replacement. They may not be able to have much of your time, but they need your reassurance and your love more than ever. The move to increased screen-time and removal of green-time is scientifically shown to create heightened tensions, and there’s less downtime/chill time. Your vibe can tell the kids anything and they’ll know. And that’s really all they need to know.

Now for the lists….

Chinese Home Learning Resources

How the week looked:

Math Home Learning Resources

How the week looked:

English Home Learning Resources

How the week looked:

Music Home Learning Resources

How the week looked:

Sport Home Learning Resources

Fun Home Learning Resources

Timetable for Home Learning?

All the experts say to create a schedule. We did just fine without one. We didn’t obsess about HBL. In terms of how we organised this…. we had a good routine or rythm, which was crafted as a choose-your-own-adventure. I simple wrote on popsicle sticks a list of the regular daily tasks, and each child could arrange the popsicle sticks however they wanted, provided that by 4pm each stick task had been completed.  The only rule was that between each ‘screen-based task’ they must have a ten minute no-device brain break (usually scribbling on chalk board, singing songs, dance moves, playing with toys, short walk, etc).

The best time of the schedule was after 4pm, when all the formal HBL learning stopped, and so did the office work. It’s when we could cook as a family, and use it to learn maths (measuring, unit sizes, reading the clock), or tidy up as a family and discuss what items are called (shapes and colours of magnetic tiles and lego), or exercise together. There is so much learning in real life, when we’re just together, with time for each other, rather than shuffling between enrichment centres or commuting to the office.

All in all, this approach taught the five of us some discipline and structure, along with embedding self motivation, self control, and own time management skills (for me as the parent, as much as that for the kids).

Good luck and stay chill

The world will never forget Covid-19. I hope that your family will never forget the happy times you build together over this period, even if the external circumstances are far less rosy.

I wouldn’t wish lockdown upon anyone.  But, I know that the collective benefit of our individual sacrifices during this period will yield great fruit, eventually.  Having been I lockdown last year longer than most other families in Singapore, I can assure you that that after a period of home schooling together, you’ll have learnt a lot about yourselves, and children, and no doubt will be closer, stronger and more united. These will stand us all in good stead for our lives to come, well beyond this temporal Circuit Breaker 2.0.

I hope that some of the things in this list can help you to better make the most of this unique opportunity to be at home and learning with your children.

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