BY JESS FLEMMING (GUEST WRITER)
HOME SCHOOL EXPERIENCE – FROM SOMEONE WHO NEVER WANTED TO BE A TEACHER
Last time I became an emergency teacher I struggled to find the balance of working from home and home schooling. Coupled with the anxiety and uncertainty of what was being thrown at us – it didn’t really make for a very happy house.
There was a lot of screen time, a lot of bribery snacks to stay quiet during meetings, a lot of shouting and crying. We were in true survival mode. After the kids finally went back to school in September, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I could get back into work without attempting a side dish of phonics or maths with it. But I did feel a real guilt that the world had stood still, yet I hadn’t.
There were all these parents who had made the most of this unexpected time with their children, but I felt like I’d just fobbed mine off with another bear fruit and yet another episode of Not Enough Nelsons. So when lockdown 3.0 arrived again, and the role as supply teacher came up again, initially I cried. Like WTF how can this be happening again sobs. I was crying for selfish reasons. The relentlessness of being at home, with the kids. 24/7. I mean, who the hell would choose that life!?
But I wanted to make amends for what I didn’t achieve in lockdown 1.0
I went into this new adventure with a lot more of a positive mindset. (See, I’m even calling it an adventure. I want to use the phrase ‘a fucking wild ride’ but I won’t) I was initially undecided about Arlo going to nursery (why is it safe for him, but not her?) but I decided it was safer for all involved to eliminate some of the sibling spats that would happen if they were both home together all week.
We drew up a plan/some rules to help us all feel more balanced on the working/parenting seesaw.
- Lower expectations!
- Go on lots of fresh, outdoor walks – we’re part of a step challenge so that’s got us moving a lot
- A bit like a dog, have lots of ‘treats’ on hand to reward good behaviour/good work
- We draw up a plan of what online learning tasks we will do each day & Sofia picks the order (giving her some ‘control’ of the day)
- Do not compare yourself to other parents and what they are doing
- Remember, learning can come in all forms – for example, we count door numbers and play eye-spy on our walks
- A school day doesn’t have to be 9am-3pm; a typical day for us looks like 1.5 hours in the morning and then another hour later in the day – any more than that and she’s crawling under the desk
And as for work? I’m still working four days a week, but I wake up at 6am and work uninterruptedly for a couple of hours. It’s amazing how much you can get done when the house is silent! I log in for the morning calls and then I spend an hour or so ‘teaching’, I then get back on with work whilst Sofia plays. We go for a lunchtime walk, do a bit more school work and then it’s class dismissed for her. She gets screen time and more snacks and I crack on with my real day job.
Lastly, this is not forever. Let’s keep sight of that and all give ourselves a whack on the back knowing that when times get really tough – we bloody smash it. Even if ‘smashing it’ just means getting up and dressed that day.