While things have changed over the last few months the essence of our work at The Linking Network is ongoing as we continue to seek to support children, teachers, schools, families and communities to be at ease with themselves and others at this time.
Our new resources for Home Learning focus on developing well-being, hope, curiosity and resilience and finding ways for pupils to connect with others. They build on the resource writing experience that is central to our #schoolslinking work, providing activities that connect different communities and use our four questions to support families and pupils in thinking: Who am I? Who are we? Where do we live? How do we all live together? to foster dialogue , thinking and activity. The section It’s Good to Talk helps foster families talk about feelings and experiences. Our aim has been to create accessible resources which encourage children and young people to learn, stay active and have fun at home. We currently have over 200 resources.
For our older students we have created resources which hopefully support their mental health, encourage them to stay safe online whilst remaining curious. The resources promote critical thinking and dialogue and the skills to navigate fake news. These secondary resources include tutorial style materials suitable for schools to adapt and send out and are all provided with voice over.
We remain aware of the different circumstances families find themselves in. So, whilst our reach is currently primarily via digital forms of communication including a smart phones we have chosen activities that usually just use things you’d find easily at home, to try and make them as accessible as possible. They include fun challenges and ideas for art activities, stories, songs, with an ongoing focus on thoughtful dialogue and reflection. Some of the resources have a teacher voice over so that the resource resembles a teacher input prior to the activity, thus supporting children working without adult input. We currently have over 15 voiced resources and have created a number of bilingual resources which we will extend if it proves useful to families. We have added questions for reflection to the wonderful Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler images of social distancing to help children make sense of the current context. We hope you find time to sit back and enjoy The Suitcase about journeys and connections or How to be a Lion about finding courage and voice.
We are using our existing website www.thelinkingnetwork.org.uk to share our resources. We use Twitter as a space to share ideas, connect with teachers and others and keep an eye on what gaps and needs are emerging. We continue to use our Facebook group for teachers and facilitators leading the Schools Linking programme and as lockdown began we launched a new Facebook open page for families supporting their children with home learning. Our aim is to reach as many families as we can via social media and are keen to share our resources and signpost to ideas from other organisations such as the lovely Wild Art pictured below from the National Trust or the Eden Project Communities Chatterbox we use on linking days or the Nature Treasurehunt their resources inspired!
These materials are freely available to all schools and families as well as bring shared by the 28 local authorities across England whose schools are engaged in Schools Linking.
We are delighted to be working to develop Intergenerational Linking in partnership with My Home Life with a member of our team focused on developing and sharing ideas for staying in touch across the generations.
We know the importance of helping children and young people contribute to their communities engaging in social action and this is a key aspect of our Schools Linking programmes. The Home Learning resources include many practical accessible ideas for community and environmental social action opportunities that are possible while learning at home. You might try Kindness Yogurt Pot Flowers or Show the Love bunting or Learn a Language
As a charity we are grateful for the ongoing support of all our funders DfE, MHCLG, Pears Foundation, the Dulverton Trust and Culham St Gabriels and Bradford Council.
Looking to the future
We maintain a focus on supporting our National Network, the families and pupils, the teachers and all we work with and we are looking to the future and creating new and innovative ways to continue linking during whatever social distancing measures may be required for the coming academic year and beyond. We believe that ensuring that children and young people have the opportunity to connect with others different to themselves in the coming months and years will continue to be a crucial part of education. Our linking programmes have always included work within class to explore identity and diversity and exchange of information with another class and we are exploring new ways of bringing people together digitally and designing approaches which will be effective with the various settings and age ranges we work with.We all know how isolating the experience of this global pandemic can be and what the impact of isolation, fear and anxiety can have on our ability and willingness to reach out and remain open to each other. We hope that The Linking Network can play a part in continuing to build empathy, trust and togetherness and ensure that the skills, capacity and opportunity needed are readily available as we move forward.
The Linking Network is a national education charity rooted in Bradford in West Yorkshire which supports schools and communities to develop a positive, cohesive ethos. We work with schools to help children, young people and adults to explore identity, celebrate diversity, promote community and champion equality. We directly deliver a schools linking programme across Bradford and we support a national network of facilitators in 28 local areas across the country with training and classroom resources to bring together children and young people in their locality.
Please do get in touch if you would like more information. Find our new Facebook Page for families here.