Tuesday 12 January 2021

PARENTHOOD: Why I'll be homeschooling my own way and you should too

PARENTHOOD: Why I'll be homeschooling my own way and you should too
What a start to 2021. Not exactly the positive 'Happy New Year' we were all so hoping for after the experience of 2020. Yet we find ourselves here and all we can do is make the most of it I guess. Lockdown #3 is here in the United Kingdom and once again we are being told not to leave our local area, home school our children and most importantly stay at home in order to save lives. It's vital that we do do this, as the NHS is already at saturation point with the 'worst yet to come'. However, after five or so months of homeschooling in 2020 I didn't think for even a minute that I'd ever need to home school again. Perhaps completely naively, but it was a real shock when Boris Johnson announced that the schools were shutting for the foreseeable future. Like so many, the shock and sheer panic set in, however this time we all had the experience of last time weighing on our minds too. The juggle looks different for every single one of us, but there is no doubt about it it is there for everyone. 
During the last homeschooling Rory was a young baby (5 months), Poppy was two years (turning three during lockdown #1) and Isabella was mid way through her first year of school. The pressure from school was minimal with a lot of outdoor activities, learning through play etc., which is how the lessons would have been for Isabella in school. Lockdown #3 is now here and we're in a completely different situation; Rory is now one, Poppy is three (and getting ready for school this September) and Isabella is now in year one. The pressure and need to do more school work has definitely been ramped up this time, as I know a lot of other parents across the country have found. The government has told schools that they have to provide a full days education in an accessible manner for children, so in turn the workload for parents to do with children has increased. Part of me completely agrees with this, as our children need to be learning and focusing to set them up for life. But another part of me thinks that we are in a pandemic and simply trying to juggle looking after children and working from home is a near impossible task for so many parents, so adding the pressure of lots of school work isn't good for anyone's mental health. It's such a tough balance to get right and it probably can't ever be 'right' because we all have such unique circumstances. 
I am very fortunate in many ways when it comes to homeschooling, but this time I will be doing it my own way. The expectation to be online at a certain time, register in the morning and afternoon, watch live lessons and complete hours of work a day simply isn't achievable every day, if at all. There are so many parents out there that don't have one school aged child to focus on; they may have multiple children in different year groups or a range of pre-school aged children/babies. The logistics of keeping everyone happy, focused and on task while working from home just isn't something that a standard school timetable allows for, which is exactly why I'll be doing my best to fit Isabella's school work around everything else. 

You have to make it work for YOU and YOUR family.

Isabella doesn't need a stressed shouty mummy who is trying to juggle all three children without being able to really help her learn. Instead I've spent the first few weeks of homeschooling trying to find a new routine that works for us. At the moment that's looking like starting the day with Isabella's English school work (Rory has a nap after this), then if Poppy wants to she'll do some pre-school focused work with me, next is Isabella's math's, Rory wakes up and we have lunch together, out for our daily walk, back for the afternoon school work and then it's relaxing tv time before dinner. It's very much still working progress because Rory likes to keep us on our toes when it comes to the time and length of his nap, but it's working the best it can right now.
My priority has to be all three children; it can't just be Isabella simply because school tells me I have to do lots of work with her. It is my responsibility as her parent to make it work; we will do all of her assigned school work a day, however it may not necessarily all be within the 'school day' or in the order suggested. If you're finding it all overwhelming then I would highly recommend just taking a step back and noting down what is actually needed. Perhaps focus on the areas your child needs to work on the most academically and start with that school work. Then if there is time for anything else that is a bonus. Also, it is key to keep in contact with the school because teachers are beyond understanding of the situation and will hopefully reassure you that what you are doing is amazing!
Let's not forget why we're homeschooling in the first place...a worldwide pandemic. We've all been stuck at home for most of the past year, haven't seen loved ones in months and are constantly having to adapt to the rules/regulations the government put into place at the last moment. It's not easy on any of us, so we must look after our mental health and do what is right going forward with that in mind. 

If you once again find yourself homeschooling then I wish you all the luck, positive energy and encouragement. We've got this! 

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x

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