Home schooling, lockdown vol.2 – the winter edition

Four days in to January 2021 in the UK, any hope was slashed by the Prime Minister’s announcement to return to life in March 2020, you have every right to feel the emotions you do; whether you are fearful, angry, bored, or nonplus *or perhaps like me fly between them all like a Meerkat on look out. It’s perfectly normal to not feel normal, that’s the new normal.

However, hope is on the horizon and that’s why I have popped this midweek post together. This time we have several super powers within us and we should unleash them…well it could make all the difference to us and our families thriving in 2021. Although I write as both a parent and teacher, I would also like to highlight that everyone is in their own personal battle at present and hopefully non parents can take some joy from this post too.

Super power one: knowledge: Volume two means there was a volume one. I know you know that, I know things aren’t exactly the same BUT we lived through volume one! Knowledge is power, something I never had last time. This time I can see an end, volume 1 was six months of ‘maybe next week’ a blur, a really long Sunday…this time I know it will end because it did before. Maybe we didn’t all thrive, but it’s well worth taking time to reflect on the things that did work, adapting them where necessary and making them work for the winter edition, hindsight is a beautiful thing – use it. For example, a paddling pool in January probably isn’t going to go down well, but we as a family in vol.1 took the time each day to come together and watch a film, it was a calming time (it was always Disney) and it added a drop of structure to an otherwise chaotic day.

I took the time to ask my son what he wanted to do, sure home schooling was usually part of the day but actually with no commutes we did have time to bake or build some Lego. We went for walks, okay if I’m honest I’m a little walked out but I also know that nature always makes me feel better…do the things that served you last time.

Superpower two: Know your child isn’t behind: You are giving them an experience. Like most adventures in life it comes with highs (we uploaded work to the school site) and lows (no work was achieved and my son claimed corona stole all of the pencils in the house) but it’s how we look at them that counts. My child is where he is academically; I can’t rewind 2020, I can’t push knowledge into his brain, but I can make sure that no matter what he is safe and healthy. Today the juggle was real. My full time job, our home, my sons education, our families sanity, our mental health all rolled into one and it was messy…but it was also good too….

Super power three: Hold on to the gratitude: Being thankful, for whatever small glimmer of hope, joy, love, appreciation you see or feel…it matters. I’m eternally indebted to frontline workers, I’m pleased my family is healthy, that today we are ok, that the internet connection works, that I have the skill set to break down tasks set for my child and can make them applicable to him, that the dog didn’t bark when the postman came and I was on a Teams call for work, that we did our best.

Super power four: Small steps are mighty: This may be part of your existing super power one, but I know that small steps, low expectations and being kind to myself is the only way I can manage at present. I didn’t do all the work tasks I had the intention of completing, by 10am I prioritised them and spread them out over the next few days. I can only do what I can. I did take a few minutes to do a facial this evening so that tomorrow I wake feeling topped up with self love, I also treated myself to a hot chocolate because this life is precious. Small steps with treats along the way make unstructured time’s a little easier. Also, a technique that works well for most children and age groups is Now, Next and then. It works like this: Now we are doing maths, next we will read and then you can play. Forget the rest of the day for a few small steps, when they are heading off to play, remind them that now they are having play time, next they can read and then we will have lunch. Those three small words can give enough knowledge to make your child feel safer. If you have multiple children it might be that time is divided and your ‘Now i’m helping Bethan, next we will go and play and then we will revisit your history work together’ feeling heard is so important and often grounds us far more than Mummy spending 5 hours the night before creating a complex rota that due to a tantrum and a high temp from the baby has all gone out of the window before 7:30am

I hope by reading this you maybe remembered how awesome you already are, that you’ve got this and that with a few super powers under your belt you can achieve anything.

Don’t make change too complex, just begin.

Quote Anon

When I was a child and had to revise for exams or complete homework of little interest, I would procrastinate like my life depended on it. I’d sit down, stand up, get a drink, go back for a snack, doodle…anything to delay the revision, until I was so tired or it was too late to bother.

Luckily along the way I grew a little more patience, a cup full of endurance and a scattering or resilience to help me power up as an adult me…but I still have my moments.

Currently across the nation / world the majority of children are still home schooling, well meant to be. In the last few weeks I’ve met with children and their parents and similar messages were echoed out “She started off well but…” or “Unfortunately we never found a routine” others have thrived, particularly without social pressures lifted from them or the demand of being up early and ready to learn in the classroom before 9am.

The great news, I promise from a teacher to you, is nobody is behind. We’re all in this together and come a time when our classes are back to bursting the magical skills of a teacher will prevail. Every child is unique, learns in different ways about a range of different things to a future carved out specifically for them.

However, as the quote above suggests some momentum is needed. For pupils that have lost their way and are overwhelmed with deadlines – I’ve emailed support by asking them to complete one piece of work and then to show me…a sense of completing something, recognition in making progress and a step (no matter how small) towards the never ending mountain is sometimes enough to take another step…a few more and change occurs. It’s a magical moment between and idea and a result. It can’t be pinpointed but it’s a sweet spot of success that occurs before the challenge or change is complete.

Better still, it can be applied to anything at any age; learning a new skill, stopping a bad habit, altering your life to align with your dreams, it all begins with a tiny thought and a small gesture – the rest is called living.

*Best of luck if you are a home schooler or are the adult with no idea what you should, shouldn’t be doing and perhaps even google can’t tell you how to do it…you care enough to worry and that’s all you need to do. Keep them safe, loved and healthy. Nothing else matters.