Keeping cheerful


Home schooling is not easy. Attain's Editor, Matthew Smith, talked to two prep school Heads – Tim Smith of Hampton Pre-Prep & Prep and Andy Falconer of St Peter's 8-13 – to get their advice on how to keep cheerful and stay motivated.

Lockdown doesn't really need any introduction for parents – we have been here before and know what to expect. It's tough on us all for so many reasons. But there are things we can do, and areas we can focus on, to try and make the best of a pretty poor situation.

I talked to two prep school Heads to try and help find the silver linings among all these clouds. For Tim Smith, Headmaster of Hampton Pre-Prep and Prep in London, the right approach for parents lies in trying to maintain as positive an outlook as possible, regardless of the difficulties we all face: 'I think staying terribly cheerful all the time is terribly important...! It is a bit grim, so I think it's incumbent upon us to stay as cheerful, positive and upbeat as we can, sincerely, of course... I think that makes a big difference and goes a long way to keeping kids involved and motivated.'

For any parent who thinks back to the last lockdown, motivation was a a key problem. Schools have learnt a lot about remote learning since last March and many will be approaching this term in a slightly different way. One area – which also helps motivation – is the importance of structure to the day. 'Most children like structure, even though they may say they don't!' suggests Andy Falconer, Head of St Peter's 8-13 in York. 'They like the reassurance and almost the safety net of structure. I think most schools in the country will now be operating on some form of timetable... so I think trying to maintain structure to the day, particularly in the learning part, is really important and helps to make parents' lives an awful lot easier.'

Tim Smith and Andy Falconer discuss the importance of having structure to the day – and why parents must be kind to themselves during lockdown

Matthew Smith is the Editor of Attain.