Tips from the Storytellers - writing at home

We asked our storytellers for their top tips for parents and kids adjusting to learning at home. Their biggest tip? Take it easy on yourself! We’re all adjusting to this brave new world, and we’re all working out what works best. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve had a challenging day, because tomorrow is a new day.

Once you’ve taken a deep breath and some time to regroup, here are some working principles to help you along the way.

  1. Encourage playtime. At school, there is a lot of emphasis on syllabus and learning outcomes. What this means is less focus on exploring ideas and concepts through play in the classroom. Now is a great time to allow your children to spend time creating their own imaginary games. It is wonderful for promoting problem solving, sharing, extended attention and creative thinking. This can be through lego, pillow forts, toys interacting with each other, or anything they come up with!

  2. Reading: If you have the time, spend it reading with your kids. Facilitating a love of reading is one of the best things you can pass on to a young person. The best way is to model it yourself (take the time to sit and enjoy an article, or a novel in front of them) or to take the time to read something together. Reading exposes children to new ideas and concepts, whole new ways of thinking, new worlds… it teaches them to spend time alone, to have a means of escape, a talking point with adults and other children. The wonders of reading! You can do this by encouraging them to read something and tell you about it, or by reading to them if they are younger or having difficulty with it. Be patient if you’re sitting with them, allow them to get words wrong and problem solve and sound it out. Also, support the independent bookstores that are delivering to your door if you can!

  3. Avoid limitless passive screen time (or too much screen time in general): If you have the capacity to limit screen time, do it. While there are many “interactive” learning games and applications available now, most do not require more than passive observation or guesswork by students. If your kids are desperate to stay on the iPad or phone, give them a project where they can self-teach new skills, like creating a movie, creating music, or developing a story online.

  4. Encourage research. Again, if your children are old enough and are desperate to stay online, assign them a research task. Knowing how to navigate the internet and google searching is not an intuitive skill. Most children will need direction, but once they begin to navigate it, it can be fun! These can be everyday research tasks; finding a recipe, researching an actor or comic book they like, looking up riddles, determining the ‘best’ watch for children their age etc.

  5. Give structure. Most children respond to a routine, especially if it is similar to that at school. School tends to start with reading and writing, then a break, following by maths and a new subject (science, religion, geography, sport) and a break. Draw up a visual outline/timetable with them and fill it in together. Knowing what comes next removes a huge burden for most children. Check them out on Pinterest if you’re not sure what they look like.

Now you’ve got our tips, why not check out these resources for writing at home and get writing!