Home-Schooling – Where Every Day is Take Your Child to Work Day!

22 Jan, 2021

I remember sitting there back in March 2020 when the announcement was made that the schools and nurseries were closing and breaking down in tears.  Aside from it really starting to hit about how serious this new ‘corona virus’ thing was, I went into a total panic about how on earth I was going to manage with a two year old and a 5 year old whilst working and home schooling.  It wasn’t long before I realised just how impractical that was and within weeks, I furloughed for what turned out to be 5 ½ looooong months.

By the time September arrived and it was time to send my daughter back to school and my son back to nursery, it’s safe to say I was burned out with homelife.  Coming back to work was like a breath of fresh air that I had longed for. Whilst life was far from normal, I think we’d all slipped in to a ‘new normal’ and accepted it for now.

BUT, fast forward less than 9 months later and here we are again.  I sat there watching the news conference with bated breath thinking “no, Boris won’t shut the schools this time, surely?”  And then those awful words, schools will close and it went on…..”With immediate effect” AAAAHHHH, until at least February half term.  HALF TERM??!!!! I think rather than blind panic like last time, I felt a sinking feeling.  I remembered all too well the trauma of home schooling first time around, the tantrums, the stress, the printing(!) and frankly I was not ready to be going through that again especially with 12 hours’ notice.

However, once I’d slept on the news and came to terms with it, I had a little word with myself.  I was determined not to stress myself out about completing every little task like last time.  After all, my daughter slipped back into school fine last time, I thought “we can do this again, but I’ve got to keep working for my sake as much as everyone else’s”.

So, I approached it rather differently this time.  Less stress, less printing, and more focus on keeping everybody happy and entertained rather than doing every last piece of work.  In the first week I’ll be honest it became very clear that you cannot work and teach at the same time.  I had numerous calls with my daughter’s head popping up in the background or her hanging off my arm saying “Mummy, how do you spell [  ]?” or “My felt tip pens smell nice, do you want to smell?” (errr, no, I don’t).  Suffice to say, in that first week I felt like I barely got any work done and my daughter did even less school work.

When we did eventually get some work done and I handed it in, it was marked as LATE (by Teams!) but I was just pleased we’d got something done that week.  Into the second week we got a little bit more of a routine going between my husband and I sharing looking after our daughter, taking separate lunch breaks with her and going out for a lot of walks to break up the day.  School work was not a focus, if we got some done, it was a bonus and that’s how we are going to ride out this storm.

My daughter asked me the other day when will she be going back to school.  I nearly cried.  She never once asked that last lockdown.  She’s clearly missing her friends and her teacher.  I’m desperately trying to tell myself they’ll all be back after half term.  Who knows?

In the meantime, here are my tips for coping with home schooling:

  • Try not to panic, we really are all in this together.
  • Create a safe, loving environment for your child. They need that right now; don’t we all?
  • Don’t let schoolwork be your focus for the day. If I try to force my daughter, she rebels whereas if I give her the choice to do it, she usually wants to do at least some.
  • Create a workspace for your child if you can rather than trying to get them to work on the sofa/in front of the tv/on the floor.
  • Be prepared, look ahead at what work has been set and be realistic about what you think you may be able to get done. It’s unlikely to be everything.  I usually pick the things that need the least supervision or adapt the things that need too much input from me if I know I’m on calls.
  • Don’t fall out with your child over home schooling. I did a lot of this last time and I won’t do it again.  If it’s descending into chaos, take a break, have a snack, have a walk and come back to it later or even leave it for the day.
  • Look for support from other people home schooling; plenty of people are doing it!
  • Liaise with your child’s teacher, let them know your current situation. They are setting lots of work/online lessons/video calls because they are being told to by higher beings but teachers are human too and many have children of their own.  They understand lots of us are trying to work at the same time as home school, that we are on calls ourselves so can’t always make scheduled online lessons with our kids and that on a practical level (especially if you have primary aged kids) that they need constant supervision with work which makes it impossible to do both tasks at once.

And finally, Google ‘funny home-schooling videos’ and have yourself a laugh.  There are some corkers out there!

*(After I completed this article, I was thrown a lifeline offer from grandparents – in our childcare bubble – who offered to home school for me on the days I work.  I bit their hand off and it’s certainly eased the pressure somewhat.  It still meant I had to a video call yesterday with my daughter by the side of me doing an online Bhangra dance lesson with her class, but luckily my contact saw the funny side!)*

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