How to homeschool in a pandemic
The first day of ‘homeschooling’ begins today for many families, and as a teacher not currently at work (I am still on maternity leave), it feels very strange to be observing it all from the sidelines with no role to play. I feel like a sub on the bench, watching my teammates compete in the match of their lives.
All I can be is a cheerleader. So by way of solidarity for my colleagues and teacher-friends, I will say this to all the parents at home:
Give EVERYONE involved a break. This is completely unchartered territory for you, your kids and the teachers, and nobody knows what they are doing. There was no INSET day to prepare for this. Teachers will have worked their socks off over the weekend to get as much as they could ready for today (on Mother’s Day too) and they will continue to do so for as long is needed. Everything they had planned for the rest of the term and the rest of the year will have to be re-written and re-thought and that takes a lot of work. They are as anxious and as clueless as you, but they will be doing their best. They might just need some time to figure things out. Be patient with them and work with them. Offer feedback in a constructive way. Let them know what works and what doesn’t. Tell them what your kids enjoyed. Thank them if you get the chance. If you use a secure school platform, share photos of your children learning at home. They will be missing them more than you know.
Go easy on your children. They don’t know whether to be delighted or terrified at the moment, and they will need time to adjust. You cannot recreate the school environment at home. Much of that comes from their friends and their teachers and the familiarity of their classroom walls, and they will start to miss all that once the novelty wears off. They will have questions not related to the school syllabus. Make sure you dedicate time to answering them.
Go easy on yourselves too. You are not teachers, and you aren’t expected to know everything. You might have to Google one or two things and there’s no shame in that (sometimes teachers have to do that too!). Many of you will be trying to hold down a job, at the same time as educating your kids during an unprecedented global health crisis. Don’t set yourselves unrealistic goals or be too strict with your rotas and timetables. The best teachers I know take the lead from their pupils; they let a lesson run over if it has ignited a spark, they will revisit a topic if children need more time, and they’ll abandon ship and let everyone do three laps of the playground if they can see that the kids need a re-set. Do what you can, and what you think your children can cope with. Their and your mental health is far more important than academic results right now.Take each day as it comes and learn as you go.
There are absolutely no rules right now.