Home learning at Harmeny – one teacher’s story

As a teacher at Harmeny, Fiona Jenkins wondered what it would be like to move from her usual classroom setting into the residential cottages for schooling, lockdown-style. She soon discovered that there are real benefits in “home learning” for children who don’t find the classroom easy.

“Monday morning and the start of a new school week. . . and the first thing to notice is the fluid cross-over between care and education staff within the home environment. Not the usual difficult transition back to school following the weekend.

I walk into the cottage to find the children eating breakfast, coming downstairs from brushing their teeth, finding a pair of socks, and taking a seat on a couch in the living room. 

Casually, we start the ‘school day’, checking in by taking turns to give someone a compliment and ask how they are feeling.  This lets me see who has not quite woken up yet, who’s a bit grumpy and needs a wee chat and reassurance before picking up a pencil, and who is raring to get going.

It is a natural move to our literacy and numeracy work, as the teaching and discussions continue in the comfort of the living room before we go to the playroom to complete the session.  We have lots of opportunities for exercise, too, with daily PE sessions comprising either a dance workout indoors or circuit training in the garden.  We also have a 45-minute session ‘out the front’, which usually involves climbing trees, riding bikes and pedalling go-karts!

Lunch time is by far my favourite time of the day. We chat, we laugh, we share our dreams and we eat at tables together, not as a class but as a family, before going out into the garden to play together.

Afternoons are about health and wellbeing.  We learn strategies together that help self and peer-regulation, such as structured massage, visualisation, relaxation exercises and yoga, before ending the day with a chat about all the positive things we’ve done and skills we have learned. Each day of the week has a similar pattern; made up of the rhythms, routines, expectations and predictable responses that our children need to flourish – with understanding, love and care at the centre of everything we do.”

Help teachers, like Fiona, to support our children beyond primary age

Our vision is to ensure that we can provide our young people with the support they need to build vital life and educational skills throughout their school journey. At present we can support children up to the age of 14 but, with your support, we can be there until they reach 18 years old. Please support our Learning for Life Appeal and help build the facilities needed to support some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged, yet inspiring young people reach their full educational potential.