‘Home-schooling’ during lock down: the challenges

I said early on in this process that home schooling is a choice, this is crisis schooling and that is something very different. It’s also different for those families who normally home school their children – why? Well, because they won’t be used to being schooled 100% from home either, they will be used to outdoor learning, museum trips and other learning excursions.

It’s not school

As my children have reminded me multiple times since this all began, what I’m doing with them at home every day is not school. They are quite right. The terminology itself seems problematic somehow.

This is not school – no.

The style of learning is not the same, the atmosphere and surroundings are not the same, the entire process is different – but learning still needs to happen in whatever form that takes.

Distractions

Children are used to learning at school. They go to school five times a week normally, there is structure to the day, they put on their uniforms and so on.

Whilst other children may distract them during the day, or perhaps they may distract others, there are not as many distractions as there are at home.

Aside from homework, children are not used to working from home. They are used to playing, and relaxing at home. To expect them to adapt to suddenly doing all their normal learning at home is totally unrealistic. Yet, even though I know that, I find myself feeling frustrated when they won’t just sit down and do their work. Even if it’s for 10 minutes.

We are all playing catch up

The world watched as China went into lock down and people began to get sick and die. We watched as they closed schools and offices and many small shops. We watched and for a long time thought, well, of course that won’t happen here. It was happening somewhere far away from what we considered reality.

I feel like I just blinked a few times and we went from that to all the schools being shut. There was little time to process what was happening and little time to prepare – although, what being ‘prepared’ may have looked like I’m not even sure.

So parents and children are all playing catch up. Parents are trying to figure out what each child’s school is asking of them, navigate the tech and try to keep up. Whilst, simultaneously helping children manage their emotions about all of this, support them, work themselves and not lose the plot.

We are all playing catch up, that’s just the way it all unfolded.

Multiple needs

Parents are juggling multiple different needs of their children. I know parents with say a pre-schooler and one or two school age children who are struggling to keep the little one away from the older children so they can concentrate, but then also keep the younger child stimulated and be on hand to help and guide the children who are working.

Then there are parents with big age gaps, who are trying to split themselves in half to support very different levels of learning.

For me it’s everyone wanting my help at the same time and not wanting to wait. Or two children working hard and two not interested or being disruptive. The children are 13, 11, 6 and 5, so although there are lots of things they can do together, the work they have been set is quite different .

Whatever your situation, you will have your own unique challenges.

Work to be done

For the bulk of parents there is still work to be done in parallel with crisis schooling. Many parents have been working from home for many weeks now, so having to still do jobs and educate and occupy children is challenging many families.

Someone actually said to me recently, why can’t you both work in one room and the kids do their school work in another? It was very black and white as far as they saw it.

It won’t surprise you to know they don’t have children!

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