Amy Smith is a primary school teacher from Hackney who is known because of a joy-filled, popular Twitter account she runs.
The account – @londonteacher_ – is a place where she documents the daily ups and downs of virtually teaching her Year 3 class.
From sharing images of birthday cards she sends her students, to pictures of her work set-up bursting with bright colours and accessories, her feed will put a smile on your face.
Whether you’re a parent looking to keep your young ones’ (and your own!) spirits up, or another teacher looking for some skills, here are some of Mrs Smith’s top tips for keeping your children engaged.
For more news and features about London directly to your inbox sign up to our newsletter here.
Create a learning corner f illed with positive vibes
It is important to create a positive learning environment where children feel comfortable in, and it doesn’t have to be large or filled with expensive decorations. Anything that recreates their physical classroom is great.
“For example, I use lots of bunting on the backdrop on my video calls because we have a lot of bunting in my classroom,” Mrs Smith said.
“So they see those decorations and the whiteboard I have put up on my video and it recreates that classroom environment.”
She says that space doesn’t have to be too large and any decorations don’t need to be particularly fancy. It’s just that about creating a little corner where children will associate with learning.
Keep the kids motivated
“You need to make sure you understand your children’s needs and give them something to look forward to,” said Mrs Smith.
“I have a student who struggles a bit with reading. So I told him that if he reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is what we’re reading as a class, he can watch the movie next week because I know that will get him to do the work.”
Keep the social dynamic going, even if it is virtual
The teacher tries to have as many classroom activities as possible that involve her students speaking to one another.
“For example we play story games, where I get my students to suggest nouns, verbs and adverbs,” she said.
“I’ve had some wacky suggestions, like ‘Boris Johnson’, and these stories end up being really random, but the kids enjoy it. If you are able to, you could hold a virtual game night with the kids.”
Any little activity helps
As we are spending a lot of time in our homes, get your kids involved in the everyday activities in your home. We are all spending a lot of time staring at screens right now and any engagement with the environment around them will help them.
Mrs Smith emphasises that you can get your kids involved in basic activities or chores around the house that you have to do anyway – especially if you are working parents!
“Every day activities like cooking, or go on a short walk with your kids,” she said.
“Any activity that you are able to do with them, it all helps to keep them engaged and active.”
Parents – stop putting pressure on yourselves!
“It is an incredibly challenging time,” said Mrs Smith.
“And all we can do is what we can, given our limitations.”
The teacher believes it’s important to stay positive and make the most of what she says is an “undeniably terrible time.”
“Everyone’s in a bad situation, and what we can do is try to make the most out of it and I try to do that by staying as positive as I can, and spreading that positivity to my kids,” Mrs Smith said.