Here's a dear diary type of post. I share my struggles and revelations over the lockdown period. Anyone else find home-schooling hard?
As I watch my children play kindly with each other, I take a moment to think back on the ups, downs and cliff dives of this Lockdown Covid-19 rollercoaster.
Like many of you, we took on the big responsibility of home-schooling our children. Initially, I wasn't worried. As an early years teacher, I thought it would be a piece of cake. How wrong I was?
In the early days, my children engaged enthusiastically with the activities I planned. We kept on top of all the schoolwork assigned by his teacher, and added additional activities that my children self-selected, such as, sewing, woodwork and art.
As the weeks progressed, and the walls of our home seemed to close in, the work getting completed dwindled. Arguments with my five year old ensued, with him refusing to do any schoolwork.
I had a dilemma on my hands. Do I push my son to do the schoolwork and risk him becoming defiant and grow a hatred for learning? I tried. This option lead to us both being frustrated and caused him to view the work as a chore.
Children learn best through their interests, by being hands-on, and at their own pace. However, the fear of my child being 'behind', and not being able to 'catch-up' plagued my very existence.
I tried a weekly accomplishment chart, rewards for achieving our goals, stickers and more, but my son continued to disengage.
What did I do? I just stopped doing the school work with him. I let him build his den, make pancakes, toast marshmallows on the campfire in the garden, let him create icecream, and bake a cake for grandma (with me close by for all risky activities). Now we are both happy.
At work while running a pre-school session, a simple look around the room will often (but not always) find the girls drawing, writing and stencilling, while the boys create contraptions, dig for worms and undertake physical risk-taking challenges. That's my boy to a T.
I've reverted to Early Years Teacher mode. I'm trusting the educational theory and giving my children control of their learning. I'm supporting them through sustained shared thinking, asking thought-provoking questions to help them understand, further explore and learn new concepts.
I allow him to choose what he wants to do. We are back to creating boats out of old pallets (measuring and physical motor development), roasting mushrooms on the fire (understanding the world and fire safety) and baking (maths) almost every day.
I give both my children a challenge, recap my sons spellings, read stories and continue to praise their efforts, not their achievements.
When they achieve their goal, I praise the effort and apologise for giving them something that didn't challenge them enough!
On the odd occasion, they'll even receive a surprise gift for the effort they have put in!
Is this the right way to do it? I believe each child is different, and we need to look at our children's strengths and weaknesses to help them develop using their passions and interests.
Choosing a less strict routine which allows my son to lead his learning was incredibly difficult for me, despite doing this daily in my work life. Why? I thought emulating the school teaching style would help keep some consistency. I was wrong.
Your family have been through a scary, unprecedented part of history that nobody has ever experienced before.
What's important is that you keep safe, healthy and enjoy your children being at home while you can. They are resilient. They will catch up. Make lockdown a positive memory for them and yourself.
Social media activity posts are a great source of inspiration and ideas, but it's important to remember it's often an orchestrated moment in time.
Focus on your and their mental health. Laugh, be silly, teach the children games you played as a child. The learning is happening, even if we don't always see it.
How have you been dealing with lockdown?