As a single Mum of 4 (all aged 10 and under), I go through most winters waiting for the ‘bug’ of the season to strike and am used to dealing with staying home for a week or two while it does the rounds in our house. I am used to staying home in the evenings and filling my time with the routine jobs around the house, watching cheesy tv … however, nothing has prepared me for the Corona Virus and isolating ourselves.
When the school closures were announced we had already been isolating ourselves for a week due to high temperatures in the kids. We were already having not seen anyone for a week and I had been giving my older children some maths work to keep them occupied. We were already feeling the cabin fever.
Being a teacher, I wasn’t phased by the idea of home schooling, but I hadn’t accounted for several factors in my hopeful optimism it would be an amazing enriching experience for us all. Schools come with a host of routines and expectations which we don’t have in our homes and in all honesty we wouldn’t want. Our homes should be for relaxing right?
My children work hard and have great attitudes at school… hanging on their teachers every word… turns out mine – not so much. Not only this but their 4 and 2 year old sibling’s constant demands for snacks, playing games and general entertaining meant that my amazing enriching experience slowly descended into chaos… leaving me feeling exasperated and stressed to the max before I actually stopped and thought about it. Whilst helping with some maths work – my 2 and 4 year old managed to ‘redecorate a wall in the hallway using only pink and orange crayons (at least choose colours that don’t clash kids!) After 2 days of stress (and the discovery of a grey eyebrow hair – I mean really – an eyebrow hair going grey!) something has to change. The pressure as a teacher with all the resources to hand was immense… but I had to let it go (yes I know you are all singing that phrase in your heads too, and when this realisation struck I felt like singing). We aren’t being expected to recreate school, but actually make sure the children are safe and keep their basic skills ticking over so when they return the children haven’t regressed but are ready to pick up where they left off.
Teachers have trained for years, are only dealing with children on the same age and they are in an environment set up for this exact experience. We as sudden home schoolers aren’t … perhaps home schooling isn’t what we are doing. Perhaps creative learning is more how we should view it, using what resources the schools are so kindly supporting us with and then having fun and allowing our children to enjoy this experience however we can… be it painting, puzzle ,board games … so my home school timetable turned into a to do tick list for the older boys. It means they take control of their own day (time management is a life skill right?) and alongside the maths and English set by school they get to build a Lego model, or complete a jigsaw puzzle, make an obstacle course and complete it in the garden…creative learning and more importantly a fun experience. It also helps me as they don’t complete it all in the same order, allowing me to focus on the supporting whoever needs it whenever they need it.
Ultimately – I need to remember there will be good days and bad days but I just need to not get stressed and let it go… let it go…