Homeschooling is not for me!

Today marks one week since I began homeschooling my two boys in lockdown.

Today marks one week of survival.

As I sit here grabbing a precious few moments to write, they are back on their devices to give me a moments peace.

I had planned to write this week about finding reassurance and hope in lockdown. That article is still coming, I just haven’t been able to give it the attention it deserves so there might be two from me this week.

Homeschooling…

My boys do not sit still. Ever. Pay the primary teachers ALL the money. They sure do earn it in my opinion! I’m about ready to apply for an essential service job just to get out of the house away from homeschooling. I’m joking of course…

I’ve read the articles about not being so hard on ourselves as we endeavour to teach our own children, I’ve listened to the experts say ‘it will be okay’ whatever we manage to achieve with them.

Homeschooling… the act of teaching your children at home. I have quite a few friends who are homeschooling their children and for whatever reasons it has worked really well for their families. Some choose to homeschool because of personal choice, their remote location or beliefs and I am supportive of their choices. But it is not for me.

I think that if I had chosen to homeschool, it might feel a little different. I would be able to let my children take the lead in their learning and decide what they want to focus on each day or week. With lockdown and my children already enrolled at a wonderful school, I am following the programmes set down by my sons’ teachers.

These programmes are wonderful. Carefully and lovingly planned out to cover all areas of the curriculum. And I am sure that there are children ticking off and completing each and every task. Neatly and tidily. But not my kids. Not my boys. These teachers are truly amazing and have gone above and beyond in this pandemic reality.

However, at the moment it is feeling like a chore list of tasks to get through. Without peer competition, involvement or side by side teaching and learning, I am finding my eldest son a little painful to work with. He requires constant reminders and pressure to complete each aspect of a task. It doesn’t help that our personalities are almost identical! We are both quick to fire up or react and get bored if we are not interested in a topic. We have been focusing on ‘school’ from 9am to 12pm with a break for morning tea. Today I even packed two lunchboxes to help stop the continual snacking from the pantry.

My five year old is slightly better to get involved in his tasks. Our personalities seem to compliment each other more and he will work well at the one or two tasks set for him each day. He is so stubborn though. In saying that, his work is much easier and less time consuming, so once he finishes his tasks, with my husband working on our business, I then have to direct play based learning at the same time as monitoring and helping the eight year old stay on task, which is difficult when he has a very short attention span and a distracting younger brother to contend with.

I am feeling the pressure of task completion. I know I shouldn’t. My children will survive, they won’t get too far behind, they will learn in different ways, they are loved and this is just temporary. Blah, blah, blah. But I don’t want to be the mum who gives up for my own sanity, although I already have each day at different times…

Yesterday school began at 9am. At 9.01am I yelled, walked out of the dining room and slammed my office door. I am so mature…

After an apology from both sides and a cuddle we restarted our already fragile day.

My sons’ teachers have also provided excellent support for each of their classes, face to face meetings and class video chats as well as being only an email away if we need them.

I don’t want to be the mum of the kids who didn’t learn anything while I home-schooled them. But I do feel like they are just ticking boxes with me, rather than actually learning content or curriculum if that makes sense. I’m a secondary school teacher by trade after all. If only I could teach my own subjects all day long – PE and Dance it would be. Although if I’m honest my boys don’t want to dance as much as I want them to.

I have a lot of teacher friends both secondary and primary. They are all working tirelessly, teaching online and planning engaging content that I bet they are hoping their students will attempt and complete. Some of them are also struggling with homeschooling their own children during this time, juggling their students alongside their own children’s needs. It is tough.

With level three approaching next week (and a bonus week of level four!) I fear my homeschooling days are far from over. I need to work out a way for this to work better for us. Do I completely ignore the programmes we’ve been given and lead our own learning throughout this time? I struggle with maths and to help someone understand something you don’t even understand yourself, is near impossible.

I’ve been taking photos each day of the work completed by each son, more for my own success and feelings of accomplishment to add to their Educa stories as if to say to their teachers – “I am trying!”

I think back to what we have completed as a family in lockdown and we have achieved a lot. We have completed building projects, a new hut in the backyard, endless bike rides around our neighbourhood, Lego, card games, board games, read books, painted artworks, exercised and Tik Tok videos in the garage. We have completed cooking and baking activities and the boys have improved on tidying up their toys, picking up after themselves and putting things away. My eight year old has created the most phenomenal Minecraft world – his creativity and imagination for building things on this game blows me away, each time he proudly shows me a new structure or house. We have bonded over late night family movies and cuddles and no need to rush in the mornings. It has been nice to have dad at home more, without him constantly being at work early in the morning or late at night. It hasn’t been all bad by any means. We have and are sharing memories and surviving lockdown together in our safe bubble.

I never wanted to be a primary teacher, much less at home with my own children.

My husband is working throughout all of this and provides additional help when he is home with small schooling tasks. Of course as is Murphy ‘s Law, the boys work well and first time he asks for him.

It feels helpful to have written this down. I cannot wait to return to normality. I cannot wait for my sons to be back at their school. Not only for my own respite from teaching them, but for the social interactions with their friends and the hugely undervalued teaching that their teachers provide for not only them, but entire classrooms each day. My boys seem to learn ‘schooling things’ better from their own teachers.

I will keep persevering. I will keep trying. I will try to keep my cool, providing a loving, safe space for our homeschool experience. It isn’t meant to be the same as real school and I need to remember that.

They will continue to learn love, fun and safety at home with me. They will continue to feel valued, loved and happy. They will continue to receive lessons in kindness and caring attitudes towards others as well as any life skills I can slip into their learning.

Lockdown at level four and soon to be at level three is (hopefully!) a once in a lifetime experience for us all. And as the mummy bear in this house, I have the power to make it a good one.

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