'I feel your pain' - Chad reporter speaks out about homeschooling
After last Monday’s lockdown announcement, you could almost hear the collective sigh of Nottinghamshire parents at the prospect of further homeschooling – and your community reporter Katrina Taylor was right there with you.
One thing I have learned whilst homeschooling, is that, despite being a straight-A student at school many years ago, nothing makes you feel more frustrated than attempting to understand primary school literacy and numeracy.
Just five days into the new term of being Mrs Taylor; teacher, mother and work-from-home journalist, I have lost track of the number of times I have read my son’s year six homework and wondered if I had accidentally picked up degree-level English revision or A-Level maths.
Now I may have left Greenwood Primary School, in Kirkby almost three decades ago, but I certainly do not remember learning about ‘fronted adverbials’ when I was 11-years-old, so I now have a new-found respect for our little people and the pressure they face these days with SAT exams looming.
Teachers, along with NHS staff, carers, supermarket workers and all those ensuring our world keeps turning during the pandemic are our new heroes.
The fact you have to continue your jobs despite facing walking, talking potential virus-carriers day in, day out, is simply not respected enough.
I have discovered that being a teacher is a much bigger task than simply ensuring children remember facts that are repeated to them.
They are teachers, care-givers, referees and counsellors all wrapped up into one single job role and I do wonder how, when I am already struggling after five days with one child, they manage it with classes of thirty-plus children all with different strengths, personalities and needs.
My son’s school, King Edward Primary is teaching keyworker children whilst also supplying remote-working for those not attending.
We get daily updates and almost instant feedback on completed work.
They are organising PE challenges, quizzes and even Microsoft Teams calls to ensure the children still feel connected to their peers.
The fact they had a mere 12 hours to organise this after Boris Johnson’s 8pm announcement last week means they really are superhuman.
My only hope is that, whilst some are resurrecting our ‘clap for heroes’ every Thursday evening that we also show respect by knuckling down and sticking to the rules as much as possible, to ensure our children’s lives are not impacted for too much longer, and some semblance of normal can resume for them.
In other news, ‘Dry January’ was the shortest on record this year and all best intentions long forgotten as soon as homeschooling was announced, as many parents struggled with the enormity of the task of having to complete a full day’s work alongside educating a child for six hours – a child who assumes that school closing means they get an extended holiday.
I will admit my chosen tactic thus far has been encouragement and bribery.
My son is an intelligent boy who, luckily, only needs a little help with his work, but my challenge with him is stopping him from rushing through his work like a Tasmanian devil to attempt a day’s worth of work in approximately 17 minutes.
Like many of my friends are reporting, attempting some sort of schedule for the day whilst fulfilling your own work quota seems almost impossible, so I feel your pain.
So, our approach at present, is that he completes his work carefully, for two hours, to earn an hour’s break on his electronics.
I am fully aware that Super Nanny Jo Frost would be absolutely furious with my technique, but I think we all agree that, in these uncertain times, we have to just get through the day unscathed.
An amazing movement I am seeing on social media is the offer from teachers, teaching assistants and even those who are retired, to help any parents who are struggling with homeschooling.
One thing I will always say about the people of Nottinghamshire is that the community effort throughout this pandemic has been nothing short of incredible.
People are stepping up to help others, sharing skills and doing their bit to ensure people do not feel alone, and for that I am so proud to live in the area.
The post being widely shared by Nottinghamshire teaching staff reads: “If you are homeschooling/remotely/ educating your kids, if you need assistance with understanding something that has been assigned for your child, or if you need more resources, just give me a shout.
"I’ll be happy to answer questions and help any way I can – we're all in it together.
“I may not be able to help but can at least try and I might know someone who can, or be able to point you in the right direction for help and support.
“And, parents, don’t be too hard on yourself - juggling your own work while monitoring a child doing theirs is tough.”
So Miss Marsh from Ashfield, my good friend Ian Butler and the plethora of others who are offering their skills to struggling parents; on behalf of all of us, I want to say a massive thank you.
Knowing there is help available should we need it is ensuring my grey hairs do not multiply unnecessarily over the next few weeks.
One schedule we are going to stick to from this week is ‘PE with Joe’ every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am via his YouTube channel.
The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, helped parents during the previous lockdown with his daily broadcasts of child-friendly exercise classes, ensuring children continued physical activity during lockdown.
He donated advertising revenue of £580,000 to charity, and has announced this week that he will reprise his role as the nation’s PE teacher – see you there Joe.
So, in summary, reach out if you need help, but please do not feel that you have failed if you struggle to keep to a routine.
We really are all in this together.