Don’t Put the Blame on Me… Homeschooling Through a Pandemic

So, home-school has been going for a few weeks now and I don’t know about you, but I am finding this one far harder than the last lockdown home school. 
Home school for me involves two children – one in Primary 7 and the other in Primary 2 – spot the obvious and immediate drawback? With the last lockdown, I was in control. Making sure that the schoolwork was relatable to both children – just at different levels – I didn’t follow all the work assigned but added some of my own set tasks for them and it went well. It worked and I look back at that time and think, yeah, we scored!
This time, it’s somewhat different. Maybe it’s me? Maybe it’s the frustration of it all? Or maybe it just seems to be a nightmare because I’m right in the middle of it just now… 

So many cringe-worthy things have been done by “teacher mum” on this lockdown … examples being (I kid you not): 
Having a bit of a moan with husband and not realising that our P2 had “unmuted” the computer whilst on a school class group call. 

Having to try and work out what the blooming Nora algebra is and more to the point, being able to understand it and explain to a P7 how to work out the answer (personally, I am pretty proud of myself with that one!). 
I even decided that the three of us were going to complete the Couch to 5K just to give us (ok, to give me) some silent time. 
BUT, do you know how hard it is to answer the abundance of questions raised by a P2 who has decided to wander off and do their own thing around the garden, or the constant reminders to the P7 to “lift your feet” when you are out of puff and can’t breathe properly? Beginning to sound like my own mother – or even my own nana these days … you know those phrases that were constantly said to you? Such as “It is BUTTER, not bu’’er”, “don’t sniff, get a tissue and blow” you know the thing yeah? 

So we are now on Wednesday. Tuesday was a truly awful day – one of those days where NOTHING works out, the constant “Mum this is BORING!” were the lovely words I heard constantly. “Mum …. what’s this. Mum, where’s my pointy thing that I left on the sofa and you moved cause it would damage it,” (the word is protractor of course.) Actually, it’s not called a protractor. That’s what I call it. Three hours later, after a trip to Google typing “compass tool for drawing circles”, I find out that every day is a school day because it’s called a compass!. 
To be fair, my eldest is fairly self-sufficient and works away without much intervention from me – the downside of this is that sometimes, the work that he uploads is not exactly what was meant to be uploaded. (“It’s a TEAMS thing.”) … first thought in my head? Really? How difficult can it be? In my eyes, now it’s me that looks like I’m not checking the completed work properly (I’ve failed), when the reality is, the teachers won’t even think about that. Following on from this … was it just my generation that used capital letters and full stops?????? 
The P2 is at that stage, where anything is better than schoolwork, and if there is something that can be done that isn’t schoolwork, then you can bet your bahookie that is exactly what will be done … and we have a challenge on our hands today. I don’t actually know what it is that makes me so frustrated – is it the lack of concentration? Is it the fact that our P2 just wants to play and therefore isn’t really trying? Or is it that I know how dull and monotonous this is – not so much the work, more the actions for the day? 

Charlie Mackesy

The final scene on Tuesday was me sitting with my head on the dining room table (I can hear my mum now … “get your head off the table”) with both children happily playing away (of course they were happy – the school day was finished!). I sat there, head on table just thinking about nothing …. If I’m honest, feeling pretty deflated with it all – the way that the day had gone and it’s at that point, I hear the song that’s playing in the background on good old Alexa (another household item that causes bickering) and it was like an EPIPHANY …. You know the song by the Rag and Bone man? “I’m only human after all, I’m only human after all, don’t put the blame on me” – that’s the one. At that moment, as silly as it sounds, I relaxed a bit, cause yeah, I am only human – we are ALL only human and we can only do so much. 

Not sure if this is the same for you guys, but for me, it’s only at the end of the day, when you are calmer that the guilt sets in, the guilt at being frustrated, the guilt for not giving them enough of your time (even though you literally couldn’t give any more) and the guilt at feeling like you are failing …

Fast forward to Wednesday morning now and I’ve decided that today will be different. For the sanity of us all, we are going to do MY SCHOOL. Ok, so it still had stresses (we baked lots, – what is it with children faffing around and not standing still?) We delivered some baking to an elderly relative (socially distanced of course) and then went to the beach – yup, Aberdeen in January at the beach – and you know what? We all loved it. Ok, I didn’t quite “love” the part where I asked the children numerous times not to get wet – but naturally they must have “not heard” that bit! Even I felt like the day had been worth it, no frustration, no grumps, no guilt and no sadness. What’s more, the sneaky learning that ace mum got into the day wasn’t even noticed by either of them – RESULT! 

Yes, I made them answer 4 maths questions for a fruit snack and an additional 4 maths questions plus a spelling word before they “won” a piece of chocolate. Yes, I made the younger one write as well as read the ingredient list. In sneaky mum zone, this is all learning. Writing, number recognition, learning to make their own lunch – ok, so it was sandwiches and so what if the kitchen looked a little “wild” afterwards – independence is the name of the game here. These are all valuable things that children need to learn and yup, I was feeling pretty smart with myself. School was a great success for all of us – so much so, that it also made me stop, think and realise that I am not invincible. 

Charlie Mackesy

I know many adults who are home schooling just now and I have yet to hear from any of them that they are acing it all the time. Yes, there are days when we enjoy it, but there are also days when it’s not so good and it’s at this point, we need to just STOP

Schools do not put pressure on us to complete the work – we put pressure on ourselves, far too much pressure. Whilst on this thought … can I also just mention that social media can be a great tool, but please do not think for one minute that all those parents out there are coping 100% because of the posts and beautiful pictures they post up. My guess is that you only see the good stuff, because as adults, we can be a little afraid of failure can’t we? 

But here’s the thing, I don’t see what any of us do in this weird time we all find ourselves in as failure. Even if there are days when we do no schoolwork, we have still succeeded. We got through the day, our children were fed and so what if they did no schoolwork? So what if they played games for most of the day? 

So for me, the best decision I made all week was to continue with “My school” once a week from now on. If nothing else, it’s something to look forward to eh? What could possibly go wrong? 

Kelly, Absafe director and secretary.

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