After last week’s struggle with the options before us – to return to school, or keep them at home until after the summer holidays (Schools Reopening – whatever we choose, we lose) – we weighed it all up and decided that the homeschool journey will continue for the final half term of this academic year. I won’t bore you with all of our considerations, but we are content that we’ve reached the conclusion that’s best for all of us. It’s not a decision I ever thought I would have to take – especially with the limited information available to us all – but we’ve done it. And for many, there wasn’t even a choice to make, if their children’s year groups haven’t yet been given a potential start date.
Choosing this path means that my role as parent teacher continues for another six weeks to the summer holidays; and the fact that I’m feeling quite relaxed about it all, is actually the thing that has surprised me the most. But here’s why I think it is.
First, I always feel better when a path lies ahead that I have been able to choose. I don’t think that’s an unusual feeling, because as humans we’re always happier when we have a modicum of control – something that has been lacking for all of us over the last months.
Second, it gives us more structure, because it’s for longer. That makes me more confident that I’ll be able to do a good job. This may sound strange, but when we first went into lockdown, I felt more panic than anything, and mainly because there was no defined timeframe for the whole thing. It reminded me a bit of when I was started out as a temp for an agency. If you’re on a week to week contract, it’s really hard to get your feet under the table, and figure out what you’re doing.
Gradual extensions agreed every three weeks to the lockdown position meant that I really didn’t want to plan anything aside from the work the schools have been sending through; but now we’ve effectively taken ourselves out of the regular review of lockdown measures routine, I know how much time I will need to cover, and I can begin to make plans for some more exciting, educational activities. The schools have been wonderful, but the problem is, both boys are starting to lose their focus when it comes to settling down to their work – so I’m going to have to come up with some different solutions, if it isn’t to fall into civil disobedience and mutiny.
It would be silly not to use the fantastic lessons and guidance that the schools are sending through, and that will absolutely form the foundation of their day to day activities – particularly for Maths, which is not my area of greatest strength – but different approaches will be needed. So, using the lessons for inspiration, I will also be interspersing various themed days to keep them interested and break things up a bit. Here’s what I’ve thought of so far:
Reading Day – we read a book together (currently Ice Monster by David Walliams); we read separately and share reviews of the books we’ve just read; we design new book covers for our favourite books; we choose a film of a book we know and compare the two.
Country Day – one of us picks a country we’d like to know more about, and we spend the day studying it. We find it on the map, we create fact files, we cook something from there, we play a game, and we try to dress up in whatever approximation of national dress our limited costume supply will afford.
Maths Day – unlimited to access to all of our maths-based games, including Trilemma, What’s the Time Mr Wolf, Magical Maths, and any online games such as TT Rockstars and Purple Mash (two great resources provided by the schools).
History Day – much like Country Day, but one of us picks a time period for us all to research and share. Dressing up for this one will be even more interesting!
I have some great plans – we’ll see how it goes, but do hit me up with any other ideas! I expect many teachers feel like this at the start of a new half term: invigorated, inspired, and excited to see how their enriching timetable will be received by their young pupils.
In six weeks’ time, like many of the online memes, I may just be ready for a massive bottle of wine…