***Update: whilst lockdown is easing I am so glad I followed my timetable and routine below, it made such a difference. Whilst it is great to be back to school and seeing friends there are many things I will miss about the lockdown. I will now use my new home learning skills over the summer holidays.***
There is so much up in the air at the moment and we don’t know if or when we might be on lockdown with the kids and schools may close. As it turns out we have had to start self-isolating with my 6 year old already. He had a cough last week with a couple of days off school. Following the advice on Thursday for those with mild symptoms to self-isolate, school have asked us to keep him off until he is 7 days clear of any symptoms. He is actually better already so hopefully will be back to school before they close! I am lucky that I am already home with my 4 year old in the week.
Whilst I’m sure I will be going stir crazy after a few days I want to try and see this as an opportunity to spend more quality time with the kids.
So we are going to put our self-isolating plans into place from now in the hope we can get off to a good start. Don’t get me wrong I know it is going to be hard with us being used to going out. Over the last 6 years I have got used to managing the kids at home and the best thing for us is to keep them occupied.
It’s all about Routine, Structure and Visual Support
Routine and structure is so important to enable my kids to focus and not be overwhelmed. Most children on the autistic spectrum will benefit from having a structured routine. Using a visual timetable to support this will also provide clarity about what is expected, what is happening now and next and when it will be over.
With all this in mind I have decided on some basic rules and set up a timetable to cover school hours.
With most kids it is important that we set clear rules, once they understand the rules and what is expected of them it is easier for everyone.
- Monday – Friday school time (9-3) will be structured activity time
- Weekends and evenings are free play and more relaxed
- iPads and TV are not available during structured activity time
- We tidy up after each activity together
Whilst I am not going to set my alarm and jump out of bed at 6.45 as usual I am pretty sure the kids will still be up before 7. I do find my kids are much more engaged first thing so I have planned in the activities which need the most attention / concentration for them between breakfast and snack time.
I have added in active time every day and for those energetic days lunchtime will mostly be running around the garden too. My kids are still young so most activities will be short and over within half an hour.
For all of this to work I need to be organised, so my plan is to have the activities planned and ready to go the night before.
If you would like a free printable copy of my timetable or a blank one to fill in your own activities you can get them on the links below:
The plan is to follow this as best we can and re-evaluate at the end of the week. I will need to be flexible as life often doesn’t go to plan. This is where Tiimo will help as I can make activities longer or shorter when needed on the app.
I have also set up a physical timetable we can follow and take off the cards as activities finish. The more visual supports the better.
What is on our timetable?
Every child will have different learning needs so this is a great opportunity to think about what you can work on with them. For us we are including attention and speech based therapies which are right for my kids.
These are the topics we have on our timetable along with links that may be helpful:
Attention Autism is a great way to start the day off and get the kids attention with some fun. I will have my attention bucket filled with attention grabbing items and follow it with an attention builder. If you want more ideas you may want to check out my ebook with 23 attention building ideas which I will be following myself.
Whilst working on improving speech and communication is something we will be doing across the day I have set aside time for some focused activities. This will include commenting with PECS and comprehension work such as supporting my non-verbal son with identifying words using the Downs Ed programme.
This is more for my 6 year old but I will also try some simple Duplo structures with my youngest. LEGO Therapy is a great way to support my LEGO fan with speech and social skills. I do an adapted version that works for us.
My kid have got so much out of Music therapy. Music time can be singing nursery rhymes with visual supports or playing musical instruments.
This can be as simple as making a sandwich for lunch or decorating cupcakes. Cooking and baking with kids is such an important life skill.
For us maths will be basic numeracy and some simple addition.
Art and Craft
This is my least favourite activity as I am useless at art and craft. Thankfully there are lots of people on Pinterest with great ideas I can use and I will probably stick with Easter themed crafts for now.
Role Play / Social Skills
Most kids pick up on social skills naturally but this is something my kids will need to be taught. One way to work on basic social and play skills is to role play and just play with them. Symbolic play is simply pretend play: feeding, combing hair, sleeping, dressing up. So we will do things like pretend shopping or having a tea party.
Messy / Sensory Play
Turn taking is another skill I need to work on with my kids and board games are a great way to do that. We will be playing games like Pop up Pirate, Orchard Toys Shopping List, our goula games and Brainbox games.
This could be Phonics work with my youngest or handwriting practice with my eldest. Lots of mark making for us and using a multi-sensory approach to encourage it.
I would normally advise getting out to the local woods for this but if you are isolating you may have to stick to the garden. Things like a scavenger hunt are great for outdoor learning. If you don’t have a garden can you set up an active course in the house or make a den under a table.
Active Time/ PE
Hopefully this will be in the garden on the trampoline, playing football and running around. If the weather keeps us in we will try some keep fit indoors and use the gym ball or have a dance party.
Reading and story play
Food & Toilet time
I am also working on toilet training so having this on the timetable will hopefully help. I have also allowed an hour for lunch and half an hour for a snack so kids can have a bit of break time.
There are so many great places to get ideas and resources from, my favourites are:
I will be sharing pictures on Instagram using the hashtag #LockdownLearning it would be great to see your home learning ideas too so please use the #LockdownLearning hashtag to share them.
Do you have plans for home learning yet, are you already doing it?