17 weeks – minus three weeks of school holidays – and here we are, at the end of the summer term. When all this started back in March, there were dark predictions that the children wouldn’t all be back in school until September. Insane! That’s months off – surely we can’t all be locked down until then! And yet, it has come to pass and the summer holidays officially start here. As the boys lay down their felt tips and neatly put away their books (oh no, that was me, actually), here are three things I certainly won’t miss about the whole experience now we’re saying Goodbye, Homeschool.
1 – The Rebellions
The point-blank refusal to do pieces of work that I know, I just KNOW, they would do at school without question, because I’ve seen it in their school books and their teachers have never mentioned this sort of difficult behaviour once. Come on, kids – I am actually trying my best to do a good job here; can’t you even pretend to put in an equal amount of effort? Half the amount? No – you’d rather roll around on the floor with the dog. I see. Well, let’s call it one of those rich, family life experiences that we console ourselves with when they refuse to do actual learning.
2 – Feeling Inspired and Incompetent in Equal Measure
Social media has been plastered with posts which have the simultaneous effect of sharing a good home learning idea, and making me feel completely incompetent as a creative home educator. Whole weeks of learning structured around a certain theme, with everything covered from maths to English, and coordinated together into a curriculum as wide and deep as the River Nile…I just don’t have the creative capacity to produce all that, never mind make them do it. See 1 above.
There have been major flashes of inspiration – we managed to do the water cycle one day. They both did really well, and I was feeling awesome about it, until the end when the elder one said he’d done it at school last year. Oh.
3 – The Emotional Rollercoaster
Some days in the last 17 weeks it’s felt like we’ve accomplished loads – and some days I’ve just felt like I’ve let them coast along on abilities they already have, without a whiff of challenge or teaching them a single brand new thing. Then there’s the sadness that surfaces every so often for all of the wonderful events they should be enjoying in the summer term, and the social experience of school that has been almost entirely missing from their lives for four months. I wrote about the grief for what coronavirus has taken from us in a blog post near the start of lockdown, and time has not been a healer on that score.
Alongside the strife, there have been snippets of great sweetness – the loveliest little moments that would never have occurred without lockdown, like when my little one told me I am the “best and most beautiful Mummy teacher and I never want another Mummy”. I wouldn’t have missed that for anything. And I do feel that some weeks, I really have managed to teach them things – the day we did Stone Age cave paintings really caught their imaginations (“This is amazing, Mum – you NEVER let us do painting!”), as did mummifying tomatoes during the school’s themed Egyptian week, which sounds impressive but was astonishingly simple.
And in spite of the struggles and self-doubt, overall I have enjoyed it. I’m glad that life will become a bit more relaxed for the next seven weeks – and then I’m going to have to say goodbye to them at the school gate again. On that day, I’m hoping that the times when they point-blank refused to learn will eclipse all the things I’ve loved about homeschool…but I have a feeling they probably won’t!