Home Learning Round Two

a snapperwack made from bark, sticks and ferns

Ding ding ding, seconds out! We’re on our own again, well sort of.

As everyone suspected would be the case, English schools closed for the spring term. No, not at the end of the winter term, during the holidays, or just before reopening. No, they closed after one day of the children being back – on the evening of 4th January 2021. Because no one would want the children, parents and least of all the school staff to have time to prepare, adjust, plan or set expectations. Oh no, that wouldn’t be helpful at all!

For the second time in a bit over nine months our children are learning from their homes. Or trying to. And their parents are trying to support them as best we can, no matter what other responsibilities we might have – whether that’s other children, full time or part time jobs, caring for other people, or struggling with loneliness and isolation. Or maybe our kids are some of the very few who have to go into school because their parents are working in critical roles – healthcare, education, policing, and many other jobs.

Comparisons

We’re all tempted to compare ourselves to one another, again. Its pointless and painful, again. Our social media feeds are full of other parents, often of our kids’ friends, rocking it – they’re organised and doing all the work and more, the kids are in all the lessons with a parent sitting by helping out and providing snacks and wisdom. Right?

Did we learn nothing last time? (even if we claimed to)

Well, its worse than that though isn’t it? We’re not only comparing ourselves with others, but also to how we coped last time too. The worst person to judge yourself against is, well, yourself.

What’s going better than last time? what’s going worse?

Will our children suffer more because they’re going through this again? or will they cope better because we’ve all been here before?

Forgetting the past

When the lockdown kicked in and the kids ended up at home again, a good friend compared the experience to childbirth. After a baby is born, nature encourages a repetition of this event by helping the parents to completely forget the trauma of giving birth.

Post-home learning part 1 we seem to have done the same thing. We can look back on it with rose tinted glasses, think of the magical moments when our children actually learned a thing, remember the happy bits and those sunny afternoons in the garden. How different is that from how we’re feeling right now?

As much as we want to forget it, last time we yelled, we cried, the kids rebelled, the work didn’t always get done, the teachers got confused and the communication failed. All those things are happening to us again, like a second experience of labour turning out to be just as bad as the first.

My outlook

Like any scary proposition, I’ve processed this return to home learning in several phases:

  1. Recommending it as necessary
  2. Bewilderment as why it wasn’t happening
  3. Pretending it wasn’t necessary
  4. Fear that it wouldn’t happen
  5. Trepidation that it was coming round the corner
  6. Horror and loathing that it arrived
  7. Satisfaction that this unpleasantness is for the greater good
  8. Anxiety that it’s impossible
  9. Facing the reality while hoping it was all a dream
  10. Achievement after day 1
  11. Acceptance that day 2 has to be done too
  12. And day 3
  13. Amazement and awe at the way school staff have pulled together
  14. Finally, reminding myself that we did this before and it was horrid but we got through it. We will get through it again, it will be awful again but it will end one day.

Yeah, feeling all those things in the space of a week, a day or even hourly is perfectly normal. Its OK for us to feel any or all of those things at once.

Practically, this period of home learning is different from the last. Himself and I are in the same situation, both working from home. But the boys’ school is approaching learning differently, with much more contact and face to face time over Zoom. This makes things a bit trickier because last time I would take some time out of my work days between Monday and Thursday and we’d get 50% of their work done, then catch up on the other 50% on Friday – taking advantage of my day off. When I was working, I’d juggle the tasks for the children around the meetings I needed to attend. This time the calendar for the kids is defined by the school and none of their classes overlap (that might be good or bad, I can’t tell yet) – so one or neither child is always on a Zoom call but never both. Last time, I had them both doing maths or literacy at the same time so that I only needed to find 3 sessions a day to spend with them. Now its 6 plus work set after about half the sessions. Its exhausting just trying to remember who’s meant to be where when!

But, equally, I don’t need to trawl the depths of my memory for facts about the Tudors or the Iron age. The teachers are doing all the actual teaching. Large boy is fairly independent having received a Raspberry Pi for Christmas that we’ve added a webcam to so that he can use it for school. Small boy can read so much more than last April, he’s much more confident and ready to try.

Its both easier and harder.

We’ve been here before but it wasn’t quite the same. I know we can do this, we just need to adjust and amend our expectations. We need to learn, again, that we don’t need to do all the things that school ask us to. The kids maybe don’t have to go to every Zoom lesson if its impossible or just too hard to fit in with work. They’ll be OK.

My overall approach, even before the lockdown was announced, is “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. I’m prepared for this to last until May half term, hopefully it won’t.

… and that’s why I didn’t brave the shops between Christmas and New Year to buy small boy new school shoes.

26 thoughts on “Home Learning Round Two

  1. I don’t have little ones anymore so I can only imagine how hard this is on you and all parents! Especially with no warning. I hope things go well! From one homeschooler to another, if you have questions I will help as best I can!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have kids so I really can’t even imagine how home-schooling is right now for those who have been forced into it because of this lockdown. I think all parents who have had to do it are absolute rockstars, so I hope you know that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had little to no role in the homeschooling that is happening here in Toronto as well. That’s because at grade 8 and 10 my teenagers are mortified at my offers to assist or lend a helping hand. 🙄

    So my role is to feed them. 😳

    Constantly. 😄

    And then again. 😂

    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel for you as it must be really tricky juggling work and homeschooling! Wishing you all the best with it – and you sound like you’re doing the best job you can xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wise move not buying the school shoes. Thankfully mine is in high school so I knew I had a bit of time for haircuts, new shoes and the PE hoodie they are insisting he has which is only available from a closed shop!

    As a school worker, I am at my wits end already and my son who has pretty much home schooled since October due to isolating bubbles, is totally over it already! We’ve had some real battle so now I am having to sit on him to get the work done which is a bit of a nightmare with my own work taking a back seat.

    We’ve got this, don’t worry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This morning small boy’s teacher sent the pptx for their lesson thru at 8.50am, with a message that they would be doing the exercises. Then another attachment with questions was sent but the app didn’t send a notification until after the lesson. So I fought with the printer to print the pptx only to find it wasn’t needed and then discover the other pdf later. I cried. I can’t cope with 10mins notice to sort stuff like that.

      Like

  6. Back to the old chestnut again. I agree they left it very late. My kids hadn’t gone back to school before it was announced but I know some had gone back for a day. Left many people in the lurch I can imagine. How are you finding it the 2nd time around balancing working from home too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It makes no sense to me that they let the kids go back to school for one day, potentially spread the virus around, and then shift to home learning. At least our government had the decency to make the announcement before the Christmas holidays to give people time to prepare. Although, our government originally said elementary school children were going back to school this week and they have changed their mind on that now.

    Good luck. I don’t envy parents with young children. My boss has 3 kids under 7. I don’t know how he does it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Its absolutely bonkers. School are doing things differently too and I’m just so confused and having to react to messages within 10mins or the kids don’t understand their lessons. Also learning a new app to communicate but it doesn’t handle 2 kids being logged in at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can only imagine how overwhelming and difficult it must be to juggle home learning and work, but I am sure you’re doing a great job! The most important thing is that you’re all healthy and safe! Thanks for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really feel for you. It must be overwhelming trying to juggle your own work and support home schooling. Don’t set your sights too high and congratulate yourself for what you do achieve. Humour. Love. Self care. These are the most important things on the agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

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