For those of you with a child loving lockdown learning, I am genuinely happy for you. But if they aren’t, then here are my top 7 questions to ask…
(1) Do they just need a break from screens? It’s hard when other people’s children seem to be coping fine all alone on ‘Teams’ and maybe they are… but children just aren’t supposed to learn alone on a screen.
We spent millions of years as hunter gatherers, tracking animals, navigating by the stars, learning what plants heal. Our brains are designed to learn a little, moving, with different surroundings, interacting with others, then having a wordless break to store that knowledge. We aren’t supposed to learn from a powerpoint hastily shoved together by a sleep-deprived teacher who is clinging on by their eyelashes, delivered in a sleepy monotone.
Most teachers really will understand if your child needs a break, they probably need one themselves. Here’s a link to my post ‘It’s OK to say NO to school’
(2) Would they benefit more from exercise? I know it’s cold, it’s often wet, but functional neurologists will tell you it’s the most important thing you can do for their brain, psychologists will tell you how good it is for their mood, doctors will tell you how vital it is for their health and sleep and I will always argue it’s the best for learning and focus.
After ten months of on-off lockdown, some children are now quite scared about leaving the house. But hopefully we can show them how much better they feel for running, swinging, jumping, climbing, messing around and just being silly. When we are anxious, we are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol and our body expects us to run. When we don’t, that’s when we feel out of balance.
Getting out into nature can help them to get that blue sky, green space and white light they need to sleep well and feel better. The break from EMFs is also key. I know it sounds weird, but try turning your wifi off at night and see if anyone sleeps better. My kids definitely do!
(3) Could you make chores an alternative? This gives them a choice, helps us find out how much they hate that particular subject/task, and gives us extra time to spend with them, I also like it as an overwhelmed mum to feel like I haven’t just rolled over and given in.
It builds executive functioning, helps prepare them for independent living later and genuinely helps with handwriting. Oh and helping others makes us feel good.
(4) Would they be better off revising things they’ve already learned? If they don’t seem to be learning much, then you might want to switch to revision. Most dyslexics are fast learners but fast forgetters, so revision can make all the difference in the world. Here are my six keys to effective revision and also why I reckon children should be making flashcards.
(5) Could they make dinner? Hyperactivity, attention problems, headaches, sleep, anxiety and memory difficulties often can be helped (or sometimes fixed) by sorting out nutrient deficiencies. Common ones are iron, magnesium, zinc, omega 3, B vitamins and vitamin D. We can’t make enough vitamin D from October to March and so need a daily supplement, luckily they are cheap as chips.
When one of my boys was really struggling, I gave him IntraKid, which is just an extraordinary multivitamin. It’s expensive (£3 a day!) but it changed our family’s life. I love IntraMax for me, it is so calming that it has allowed me to cut out alcohol completely. No, I don’t have shares in it, but I wish I did.
Nowadays, my boys just try to eat a rainbow each day (e.g. red raspberries, orange carrots, yellow sweetcorn, green peas, purple beetroot, white pears). If at all possible, organic is best for the “dirty dozen” (the 12 fruit/veg highest in pesticide residue which attacks the gut). Today my son made left over chicken soup with noodles and frozen veg. Anything to get out of writing that awful non-chronological report.
(6) Might a project or two be a better idea? Here are 7 things you could focus on during emergency home-schooling. This is my guide to improving spelling via touch-typing. You could check their reading age, spelling age and writing speed, and see if one of those needs a boost instead. Is now a good time to master telling the time? Would they benefit from a focus on times tables or learning to tell the time? Could you do some practical fractions?
Finally, when things are bad, my boys and I take amino acids to flood our brains with happy hormones: 5HTP for happiness two hours before bed, GABA for panic attacks and Tyrosine for hyperactivity. Get in touch if you’d like to know what we take and why. This is definitely not health advice, just a mum who has tried out a hundred and one nice, natural fixes.