I’ll admit it. I have briefly panicked about this. I’m sure I’m not alone.
I have thought about how frustrating it can be just to get my children to do their homework some nights.
How they sigh audibly if I try to correct their pencil grip. How their eyes glaze over every time I try to explain something, even when I’m answering a question they’ve literally just asked me. How I bristle with annoyance each time I see the way my son writes a lower case ‘e’.
Then my logical brain kicks in. This is not the same as homework. This is not going to be done at the end of the day, when the kids are tired, when I’m trying to cook dinner and get them ready for bed. This is not something I need to panic about.
So as I take a few deep breaths and contemplate the weeks ahead I’m telling myself the following things.
7 reasons I don’t need to freak out about home-based learning
It’s not home schooling it’s ‘home-based learning’
If I was home schooling I’d be fully responsible for my children’s education. This is not the same.
My children’s teachers will still be the ones following the curriculum, providing resources and assessing their progress. I’ll just be supervising. And, obviously, making occasional comments regarding the aforementioned issues of pencil grip and the formation of the lowercase ‘e’.
The teachers will be there to support the students and answer our questions, which is handy because I’ve forgotten how to do long division so for the most part I’ll be of very little use. Of course, I probably won’t be the only one with questions, and I am sure the teachers will have inboxes as full as my wine glass on Friday evening of Week One, so I won’t be expecting an instant reply.
No one expects me to do it all — or do it all perfectly
I’ve pretty much worked from home for 10 years now and for most of that time I’ve done this with babies and small children in the house. I’ve been spoiled in the past year and a bit, having reached that glorious time when all of my children are in school. Up until now, of course. Well played, Universe. Well played.
So, having been lulled into a false sense of security (and silence) I’ve found it quite hard to adjust to this new normal. Especially as my children no longer take three-hour naps in the middle of the day!
Luckily I learned a long time ago that there’s a limit to what I can achieve in a day (while staying sane). There’s no point in trying to do more than I’m able. I am certainly no superwoman — something always has to give.
The key is to make sure it’s not always the same thing. One day, I’ll have to do a little less work, the next I’ll have to allow the kids some extra screen time or let them eat cereal for lunch. Some days the house will look like a giant has picked it up, shaken it and put it back down again.
I can only do what I can do. I can’t be a mother, a worker, a teacher, a cook, a cleaner all at the same time and, really, no one is expecting me to.
My kids will be fine, they’ve got this
I am sometimes guilty of underestimating my children. I’ll see a situation or challenge in front of them and I’ll worry they won’t be able to cope physically or emotionally depending on what it is.
And then they completely surprise me.
They are not at all concerned about the weeks ahead. They know their way around a worksheet and they understand what’s expected of them.
They will be fine and I need to give them more credit than I usually do — even through one can’t hold a pencil properly, one thinks ‘haded’ is the past tense of ‘had’ and the other one writes a lower case ‘e’ from the bottom up.
They won’t be doing school work from 9am to 3pm
My children are all in primary school so no one is expecting them to be replicating the school day at home. In fact, many experts recommend between just 1-2 hours of assigned work each day for upper primary and even less as you go down the grades.
The rest of the day can be a mix of free play, outside play, reading and other things they don’t realise are learning, but are actually learning, such as board games, letter writing and LEGO.
However, I am seriously considering buying a bell and sticking to the school’s lunch and break schedules — otherwise they’ll eat the rations before I can get out for my one state-sanctioned grocery shop each week.
Cooking and cleaning are ‘learning’ opportunities too
My six-year-old can learn about opposites like ‘dark’ and ‘light’ while learning to sort the washing. My eight-year-old can learn about measurement by helping bake a cake for afternoon tea. My 10-year-old can learn about washing up by … um … doing the washing up.
I don’t need to stock up on ‘resources’
For some reason I signed up to a heap of free resources and apps — I guess it was my version of ‘toilet paper’ hoarding back when the idea of ‘school closures’ seemed imminent.
They’re all completely unnecessary. And no one cares. Not one of my children has shown any interest in the daily online piano tutorials (although they’re all keen to bash out an ‘original’ composition every time I sit at my desk to work. I’m regretting putting the piano in my office).
Luckily they were free, but parents beware — there are a lot of companies, apps and online programs taking advantage of our insecurities at the moment.
I won’t be putting my ‘home school’ set-up on Instagram
That’s mostly because I do not have one. I don’t have a spreadsheet or a laminated daily schedule. I’ve basically told my kids to clean their desks and be ready for 9am Monday because that’s when their teachers will be emailing me. Obviously no one has cleaned their desk yet.
I have scrolled past a few Insta-ready set-ups and for a brief moment I wondered if I should be printing out a colour-coded schedule, sticking up educational posters or painting a chalkboard wall — luckily I was too busy signing up to free, but useless, online resources, so I never got around to it.
But seriously I do admire anyone who has managed to set up a beautifully calm space for their children to learn in. It will probably be a nicer place to sit while they whinge at you about how they don’t care if their lower case ‘e’ looks like a pig’s curly tail.
And for those of you who haven’t, do not stress and do not feel guilty. Your kids will be fine. And they’ll whinge regardless.
So, parents, I guess the only thing we do have to worry about is making sure we don’t walk past our child’s screen on the way from the bathroom to the bedroom!