By Joanne Tippett with help from her daughter, Iris

It was day three of schools being closed in the UK. I have to admit, by the end of the first two days I was going crazy. So, I decided to get my Ketso out and let Iris (8 years old) develop a plan for her day.

The experience of watching Iris develop her own plan for the day inspired me to think of other ways Ketso could help with home-schooling in this challenging time, when many of us have been thrown in at the deep-end and are also trying to manage work, and help vulnerable friends and family at a distance.

Over the next few months, we will be regularly offering new ideas on how to use Ketso in the home, and collating the ideas here.

Ketso is a hands-on kit for learning and talking together. I invented this re-usable kit my work with villagers in rural Southern Africa, and it has gone on to be used in community development and educational work across the world. This time of lockdown is prompting us to be more creative and think of lots of new ways to use Ketso in home-schooling!

In this blog, I reflect on the experience of developing a plan for the home-schooling day.

Engaging children in making their own plans for schooling at home

Iris and Joanne using Ketso

Iris and Joanne using Ketso in home -schooling

This advice for schooling from home comes from a head teacher: “Let your child create their own structure or timetable for the day, combining their ideas and home learning.” (Joanna Conway)

Ketso is perfect for this. We recommend you let your child be creative with how they want to develop their plan, and you might introduce the idea of using a simple colour code for the ‘leaves’ used to capture ideas, as a way of making sure that some of the things that the children are supposed to do (e.g. schoolwork!) are included in their plans for the day.

A simple start point for this could be:

With the different colour leaves in your Ketso, take one colour at a time, and help your child to write down all the things they need or want to do, like this for example:

  • School work (to get started with younger children, you can write out ones you know will be repeating, e.g. maths and reading, or you can ask the child to do this as a way to help them engage with the school work they are being set (brown leaves)
  • Hobbies and practice – again, you might write out ones you know will repeat e.g. violin practice and any sessions from hobbies that have been scheduled online (grey leaves)
  • Fun / creative/ play activities (yellow leaves)
  • Being helpful (green leaves)

Or you could try a simpler way to break it up, like:

  • School work (brown leaves)
  • Doing things outside (green leaves)
  • Doing things inside (yellow leaves)

Iris’s first plan for a home school day hanging on the wall on a Ketso planner

These can then be arranged in order on a Ketso Planner, to have a well organised plan for the day that your child has made themselves. You can add times for each activity, or just arrange them as before and after lunch, depending on what best suits. When there is a fixed time for an activity, such as a scheduled lesson via video link, you can write the time on a small white icon to make sure it stands out.

You can use the same Ketso to create a new plan each day – with some elements re-used as they repeat every day. This allows a discussion at the start of the day about plans – and an opportunity to think creatively about what new skills or activities could be tried. It also allows for a regular check in and review – How did that go? What worked? Were there any problems to be overcome? This can either be at the end of the ‘school day’, or the next morning if you don’t quite manage to get to it beforehand!

As always, you can adapt these ideas to suit you and your child – you can keep it really simple, or get more creative, as you wish.

How this worked with Iris

Iris making a plan

I started by writing out a few of the activities that I knew the teachers would be setting – two leaves for maths and two leaves for reading, so she could plan breaks between bouts of concentrated school work. Iris wrote out other leaves using the colour code we agreed, and started arranging them in order on the felt.

Activities for specific days

I put the days of the week on the back of the felt, along with activities  that I know will happen on a particular day (both regular events, e,g, violin lesson by video-link, and one-offs, such as her birthday party (also by video link!), so these are ready to move into the schedule on the appropriate day.

I am hoping that by putting the new day of the week to the top of the chart each morning, it will help us to keep track of which day of the week it is as our sense of time starts to get more surreal.

Iris referred to the plan a few times in the day – and rearranged things when she decided she felt like doing some music before maths. We didn’t get around to making bread – so that leaf will get moved to the next day (doing dishes can wait until after her birthday!). We both found that it helped us to communicate, and agree and negotiate how she would manage her school work. This gave me a bit more time to manage my own work, and she got on with the tasks set by her teachers with much more focus and good cheer than the previous days!

During the crisis, Ketso are offering low-cost 3 month rental of our home and family friendly kits, to support home-work and home-schooling during this time. Click here to see the two kits on special offer.