Homeschooling in ‘Lockdown 3’: Early Years activity ideas

With a third lockdown in place in the UK, many parents and early years carers will be experiencing familiar frustrations and challenges; I know I am feeling those familiar emotions as a grandparent.

Although families with children have experienced lockdowns before, it doesn’t make the process of educating and occupying children at home that much easier – particularly when it involves those of nursery and primary school age.

As a grandparent and an Early Years educator, I write Granny Smith’s Diary to share experiences, play ideas and some of my crafting successes. But you don’t need to be a grandparent to use these weekly activities and play ideas! They are suitable for all parents and early years carers to dip into and find inspiration.

So, if you are stuck for an idea, why not take a look in the categories and see if you can find a suitable idea for your preschool child? Many of my posts are based on the seven areas that make up the UK statutory framework or the Early Years Foundation Stage – the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five.

And if you’re looking for some suggestions that you can get on with straight away, in this blog I’ll outline a few places you can start.

Messy play and messy emotions

Given the increasingly chilly weather, it’s useful to get yourself ready and plan for learning play indoors to make the days a little easier – particularly if you have very young children, for whom regular messy play can be critical to early development.

Getting some exercise every day remains important, so aim to make the most of a daily walk with your child by encouraging them to observe the world around them, from numbers to nature. You might even consider taking them on a smartphone safari to nurture their curiosity and artistic eye. If certain familiar locations are simply impossible to visit because of national lockdown restrictions then you could even take them on a virtual walk via your desktop.

This is bound to be a period of renewed emotional upheaval for children after the freedom of the summer and the ‘new normal’ they experienced at school in the Autumn; if your child is experiencing this, it might be useful to read my blog about understanding emotions in young children.

Screentime and scavenger hunts

Another inevitability during this period is that your little ones will spend more time in front of a screen – whether for education or entertainment – but this can have surprisingly interesting effects, as I note in this blog on how screentime can blend into playtime.

And of course, thanks to the magic of technology, fun activities can be shared remotely: grandparents can stay involved in their children’s play and development with games like the fun photo-based digital scavenger hunt I outlined early this year – maybe it will inspire you to create your own version.

And if none of this takes your fancy, you could check out the best of my blog in 2020, where I outline what was most successful for me as a grandmother during a very challenging year.

For a useful list of further resources, the BBC recently published an excellent article on homeschooling. For struggling parents and early years carers, this bit of wisdom is definitely worth bearing in mind: “Even an hour’s lesson at school is broken down by teachers – it is much better to do a little bit every day.”

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