I can barely believe it’s only been a week since the schools shut down. So many more crazy things have happened since then – the country’s in lockdown, there’s a huge field hospital in development in London, and Bertie the pup has nearly doubled in size. I was expecting to take on the homeschooling challenge with calm and serene confidence, but I surprised myself at the start of the week by feeling much less competent than I thought I would; and coupled with puppy parenting, it’s been an interesting time. Here’s our Homeschool Diary – Week 1.
Let’s start with the cover photo of this blog post – it’s a complete deception. This picture of concentration, dedication and tranquility was the only five minutes in the whole week when none of them wanted a wee, a toy, a different place to sit, or a snack. They were a very precious five minutes!
On the whole, though, the boys were great and ready to learn – the problem was all with me. I felt fine about the reading (we’ve started James and the Giant Peach), the writing (in the form of daily diary entries), history work, and even PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) – but maths was the one I feared. I have an regular understanding of the topic and its importance, and even its many branches, but the teaching of it has all changed so much since I learned it, that I was just terrified about getting it wrong. I remember so clearly, as a child, the feeling of not being able to understand a mathematical concept that someone was trying to explain to me, and I was so worried about that being us – or worse, that I would fail to teach him anything, and he would fall behind. So the boys spent Monday doing things I was more confident about, and I passed it feeling inadequate and apprehensive.
On top of all this, our plumber came to install a new downstairs loo for us, which meant water going on and off all day; and then there was Bertie the pup – only eight weeks old, cute as a fluffy button, and weeing everywhere he possibly could, all through the day and every two hours at night.
No, Monday was not a good day – although we did discover Joe Wicks and his daily PE lessons, which I thought would be a a great substitute for the school run trek each day! What can go wrong with that?
Then at 8:30pm, national lockdown – not a surprise, but an extra layer of weird on top of these already surreal times. Now there’s a weird Handmaid’s Tale feeling about being out for your one walk of the day.
Better day today. I managed most of Joe Wicks, and so did the boys – and then came the Maths revelation I needed: the older one was supposed to have his Maths book at home with him! So once I’d arranged to get my hands on that, all of the online resources made a lot more sense, and he was able to crack on with learning about decimal places in a way that he understood.
The other thing that is swiftly becoming a highlight of the day is the storytime we are having over Zoom with the little one’s Year 1 class, read by a different parent each day. It’s lovely to watch the kids spot their friends and wave hello to them.
A better day, that is, except that the plumber left the downstairs loo half done, and all of his equipment inside – until goodness knows when!
An even better day today, as I really feel like I’m getting a handle on some sort of routine – although my legs have set up screaming at the daily Joe Wicks torture they are enduring. The boys are really getting into James and the Giant Peach, and are happily taking Bertie outside to play with them at break times. Today we also discovered David Walliams’ storytime, streaming free on Audible, which is a lovely accompaniment to the more relaxed crafty and lego sessions we have started in the afternoons.
On this day in a parallel universe, I would have been going to my regular Busy Women Networking meeting – but in the COVID-19 universe, it’s all being held online, and it was even more fab than I thought it would be to see my lovely ladies for a couple of hours, and share our situations.
Bertie had a reasonable night, and I continued with my success in the teaching of decimals. And in the afternoon – baking! Although by the time we got round to it, I was somewhat short on patience after several hours of not being listened to, and probably ended up doing more of the weighing out than I should have (especially when it came to the icing sugar), but both of them said at bedtime that this was their favourite thing of the day. These boys never fail to surprise me.
This is the longest week in the history of ever – but things are turning a corner. Both boys are still concentrating pretty well in their lessons – in spite of one taking a massive tumble off his stool, as a result of peering too nosily over at what his big brother was doing (don’t you dare do anything that needs hospitalisation, child!); Bertie’s toilet training isn’t getting any easier, but we are more confident that we’re doing the right things. And I get a two day break from Joe Wicks.
I’ve had some really lovely words from friends, teachers, clients and family, all saying “Don’t worry – you don’t have to provide the whole curriculum. Do what’s right for the boys in the moment.” This end of the week, I’m really beginning to see how that works. Take it all in your stride – and your kids’ stride – and the most surprising things will be the ones they remember.