The Reluctant Home Schooler

I didn’t sign up for this. None of us did.

But here I find myself – the reluctant home schooler.

Monday morning started pretty well. Over breakfast, we discussed ideas for our first home school day with my 3 children and we wrote a list of activities for the day. First up – PE in the garden with Joe Wicks on YouTube like the rest of the country. We were doing this. Home school had started! One by one, the children lost interest and wandered off. It was 9.07am on Day 1 and already things weren’t going to plan….

It’s okay, I thought, I can pull this back. We tried some maths and the children excitedly get out their books and worksheets that school had sent home. I was relieved that fractions were the same as when I had been in school! The youngest was eager to practise letter formation. All good. I took a photo of three hard working children and I tweeted the school. Look, school, we are fine. 17 minutes later and 47 million reminders to concentrate on their own work not their sibling’s and formal schoolwork was done for the day! We read (I read because the children refused!), we ate all the bread in the cupboard for lunch and then I called it quits and took them to the woods.

I was exhausted that first evening, and actually feeling pretty chuffed that we’d survived our first day.  Although it was harder than I imagined, I thought we’d done pretty well.

And then I made a big mistake. Huge! (film?)

I looked on social media.   Oh…..

My kids didn’t learn any French. We didn’t play any musical instruments. We didn’t look at a single world map. Perhaps I should download these 72 links that have been shared. Our art project was just a bit of colouring in. Should we be learning sign language? I hadn’t made a colour coded timetable. There were no treasure hunts or homemade kites or papier mache. Oh, I don’t have that app…or that one either. What is a digraph?  What is a split digraph?! The idyllic photos of siblings learning harmoniously were far removed from my experience – how are they doing it? What am I doing wrong?

But then I gave myself a shake! Why was I comparing myself to strangers on the internet? Why was I letting the smug mum posts take anything away from the pride I had felt for keeping everyone vaguely entertained? Just because my day was more muddy wellies and making jelly, didn’t mean it was wrong – just it wasn’t especially insta-worthy. I had never let anyone tell me how to parent my children before, so why was I allowing it now?

I quickly learned a few things about home school…

1 – I’m going to play to my strengths. I’m going to do lots of things that I enjoy and that I’m good at.  Happy mum….

2 – ‘Home School’ just means it’s not the weekend. It’s not actual school. My children are finding life difficult enough without me stressing about spelling or shouting at them for refusing to read; but calling it ‘home school’ reassures them that things are still a little bit normal even when they really aren’t.

3 – I need to be adaptable and leap at opportunities – if they suddenly show an interest in something, we are going to run with it. It doesn’t matter if we only do 17 minutes of actual schoolwork each day because they will be learning in so many other ways.

4 – The most important thing is how my children feel, not what they learn. We are all doing our best and if the children learn lots of great stuff, then that’s a bonus. Its okay to find life challenging and to find home school difficult.

I’m cutting myself some slack. I’m doing my best and most importantly, my children are generally happy with life at the moment.  They can’t say full sentences in French and they don’t know the capital of Lithuania but one day they’ll look back on their memories of the ‘lockdown’ and I really hope they are happy ones of light sabre duals, home made donuts, drawing rainbows and snuggling up with good books. It is pretty ironic that under lockdown, our children are actually more free

to do the things they like than ever before.

It’s the simple things that our children really need – cuddles; stories; one-on-one time; talking about something that interests them; and pretty regular video calls to their friends and grandparentsy.  (I should probably mention my Story Massage ideas and live stories here – look at Facebook if you’re interested).

I didn’t sign up for this. Nonimg_7877e of us did. We are all just doing the best we can.

The final word I’ll leave to my daughter (5)…

I am happy because I get to stay with my mummy and my daddy. I miss school a tiny bit. Also my friends like Orla”

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