How music has been helping us through homeschool

So it is the end of week 6 of lockdown for us, and the end of the first week that we have had organised home learning from school.

I had thought that it would help us enormously having access to a full timetable of activities from school for my eldest, and his teachers have clearly worked very hard to provide this full timetable of work. Prior to this week I felt that my son needed a little more structure to his days, my ideas of what on earth to do we’re starting to run out, and he was starting to take a long time to get to sleep every day. I thought he needed more mental stimulation.

It has not exactly worked out as I had imagined though. For a number of reasons.

Like many parents of primary aged children, we are grappling with Seesaw. It is brilliant having access to a platform to host these activities, but it has been very hard to work out how to use it. I am not convinced we are doing it right, and my son, my husband and I have all got thoroughly frustrated with it several times this week.

Having a younger sister who has no set homework, is noisy and whose tasks mummy sets her to keep her busy, or plays with her while he is working is very distracting for my poor boy. At times it seems like she has more fun, because she gets to scribble in a colouring book or stick stickers in a book for 10 minutes before she can go back to just playing with her toys. It has been very hard for him to concentrate, and he often has not wanted to sit and concentrate on his school work. It has not helped that it has been harder to get outside this week with the rainy weather.

We started the week with great intentions of doing all the English and Maths set work, and probably some of the other stuff set too. By the end of the week, we do a phonics activity and either English or Maths, and sometimes do one of the other set activities, though not every day.

The rest of the time we draw or paint, and of course we have a lot of music at home. So how do we use music at home at the moment?:

  • We are still making DIY instruments, and actually my son in particular is really enjoying this. I’ll write about the DIY guitar we made this week at some point. It’s a creative task, and while the making part is generally quite quick, sometimes the children play with it for a while afterwards. It is something new for them, and passes some time!
  • I am trying to teach my son to play ukelele, and learning it with him. We tried learning the piano at the beginning of the academic year, but it didn’t capture my boy. He is much more willing to give this a go and we have learned a few songs so far. I think the fact that I am learning along with him and playing it with him helps.
  • We sing lots of songs together, they can be as loud as they like when we are singing! And my daughter loves singing away to herself.
  • We get our instruments and either just play anything we want to, play along with some music, or just use them to get some frustration out of our system. It’s fun seeing how loud you can play the instruments! They also, unwittingly, are working on their listening skills when they are trying to play along with some music input on for them.
  • When things have got quite tense and the children have been fighting with each other a lot, I have been known to find a “happy songs” or “children’s party songs” playlist and get them to dance away. Our favourites are musical bumps and statues. The children like the idea of musical chairs but my daughter, who is just 3, doesn’t understand how you play the game at all so it always descends into chaos! They burn off some energy and get to jump around like crazy things.
  • I put music on while my son is supposed to be doing some of his work. We have lots of different styles of music on in the background at different times of the day. The children get to listen to and get exposed to many different sorts of music, some they are familiar with and some not so familiar with. I will write more about this, and why it is so good for children another day, but I am hoping it will develop their love of and appreciation for music in the future.
  • When my temper is fraying (and oh my goodness, my patience has been tested on at least a daily basis by us all being together all the time), pretending I am in a musical or opera, and singing to them instead of talking (shouting!) has helped enormously, and I have just about managed to control my temper. Other days I have to walk out the room for 5 minutes…

Do you use music with your homeschooling or to help you cope with lockdown? What do you do and how do you find it helps you?


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