This last couple of weeks has seen many parents become first time home educators – some more willingly taking up the mantle than others – and that’s completely understandable.
My message to you is please don’t be daunted, just do the best you can.
The role of home educator comes with a range of different, often contradictory, expectations; particularly for those of us who are also holding down a full-time job and now working at home!
You might think that 20 years of experience as a primary school teacher would come in handy at a time like this – the fact is that formally educating a class of 30 ten year olds, is pretty far removed from anything I am currently doing with my own two daughters!
Schools have done an amazing job in providing a range of educational and engaging activities, which children can do at home with minimum resources. They have done this with very little notice while also constantly flexing to the evolving situation. Some teachers are contacting children regularly, and many are offering to mark work on our return to normality.
Some friends of mine have embraced home schooling, sticking to a timetable, a lunchbreak slot, and working diligently from 9am until 3.30.
Others are trying desperately to just keep some structure with a partner working at home, or working for a critical service.
There is a third group, like myself, who are continuing to work, with children at home. In all honesty, I am trying to encourage vaguely ‘wholesome’ activities, playing in the garden, reading, cooking and eating dinner together. If one of the children wanders by the study looking aimless I offer them a seat and an activity. This is fine. All of the above are fine.
Home schooling looks different for every child, and for every family – and we call it different things to – distance learning, home educating; this is the attraction for many ‘elective’ home educators. In the current situation, we have become home educators, not by choice but by accident.
And if that wasn’t enough, this has happened at a time where many of us have experienced significant lifestyle changes; no casual catching up with friends, no group dog walks, gym classes, not even a coffee in the County Hall canteen with a colleague. It is so important that we check in with each other, not to see if we are doing the same as everyone else, if our child has completed the assigned work to a respectable standard, but to realise we are all finding our own journey, and that it is ok.
There are many resources you can access online for your children to help ‘buy’ you a little time during the day. Along with half of the world you can join in with Joe Wicks and his 9am PE, there are live history and science lessons online, numerous audio books and maths games.
We are all thankful for the sunshine which has arrived just in time for playing in the garden, (we have fashioned a basketball hoop from a broken hanging basket), sketching, colour matching treasure hunts, bug safaris. Or just send them out there with their imagination. Also fine.
In contrast to the opening sentence, we are not first time ‘home educators’ we have been educating our children from the moment they arrived, we alone know what is best for them, and what will help them through this confusing and different time. That may be a structured routine, it might be knowing that you have promised two hours in the middle of the day where you will close your computer, it might be a ‘virtual playtime’ with their school friends, it might be a movie marathon on a Thursday… All are fine.
Every opportunity for a conversation or any connection is teaching them something, make the most of those extra chances without worrying about what other parents are doing. Do what you can to make your home a positive and safe place, you will all be there for a while.
Submitted by Communications