Home-schooling, WFH, and cat-wrangling!

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How we are home-schooling, working, and trying to get along in our current state of a new normal? Not a guide or a “How-to!”, merely my musings on our personal juggle and how I try to keep moods up, tantrums down, and everyone’s eyes on the prize – an eventual end to lockdown.

Daaaaaaay 180 ish (must be pronounced in your best Geordie accent!) of the McGrath Home-school for the Stubbornly Optimistic!

Home-schooling is a complete necessity in these times of Covid and I am not for one minute suggesting that I want my children to be back in school, with a new strain of the virus. Nor do I really need them to be. I am fortunate in that my life as a web-designer means I am home, I don’t need to be taking many calls during what has become ” school hours” and can always arrange my working hours to be pre 9 am and post 3 pm, most of the time. I know that is not common for everyone. I am lucky. But, oof, it’s a learning curve for us all!

The first two days of the latest lockdown saw me, and my two children aged 12 and 9 stationed at the dining table at 9 am, ready for home-schooling, where I assumed I was going to be able to set them off on their excellently planned school work and then crack on with my own work, occasionally glancing across to praise their efforts and nudge them back into action. How wrong I was!

A “Thank you!” to the teachers.

Before I go on, I have to praise every teacher in the land and especially the teachers of my two fidgety students. As an ex modern languages teacher, I am sympathetic to teachers in every regard, but to throw together the quality of work, engage via Microsoft teams, send high-quality work through google classrooms and maintain the progress of actual children who are in school, is a feat to be admired.

I have to say I was delighted to know that the mean-spirited plan of everyone’s least popular fireplace salesman, / “education secretary” ( let’s face it, he has a few EBI’s outstanding!), Gavin Williamson, backfired spectacularly when he suggested disgruntled parents complain to Ofsted about poor study provision.

The plan to identify those failures in educational provision did not go to plan as indicated in this article from the Independent. Instead, parents bombarded the Ofsted inbox with praise for the hard work of staff, who once again had been left wondering when the next curve ball would be launched their way. Only to find it rocketing towards them after mixing several hundred primary aged children in classes one day after the January return.

The quality of work and effort by my children’s schools to maintain their progress is very apparent. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude. That said! Its a little easier said than done.

Two days into attempting to be everything to everyone, including to one highly attention-seeking cat, I gave up and decided to adjust my working day. As I say, I am so aware that I am very fortunate to be able to. If my job involved lots of online meetings, or restricted me to set hours, I would be finding this a whole different experience.

Our home-school routine.

One thing I am a little grateful for is a semblance of a routine to our day. I know that otherwise the temptation to stare at screens and gadgets and my weakness would often end in my two children being daily gadget junkies. At least we have allocated time to be occupied elsewhere, while I try to sneak in emails and social media marketing, or even this blog.

Our routine starts when I get up at 6, see my husband off to work, and get a little work done before I have to winkle my children out of bed at 8 am. Then once breakfast is done, we are down to business. The process of the bat the rat home-schooling begins. Get my son settled and started on his Yr7 online lessons, then leave him to it, to print of daughter’s Yr4 work, organise any links to BBC bitesize, find the correct Youtube episode of Jane Considine’s Live lessons ( check her out here!) and find necessary pens, paper, pencils etc.

Then I flit from one child to the other nudging, cajoling, and occasionally glaring until break time at 11. The most common phrases I have uttered recently seem to be variations on, ” Do you sit like that at school?”, ” Do you speak at the same time as your teacher at school?” “Is that as neatly as you would write for your teacher?” So much for maintaining the positive atmosphere!

We are back at it after they insist on their traditional break time snack for two more hours until 1.15, where I then persuade my son to eat something other than another tuna sandwich before 2 pm sees us all back for the last hour. By 3 pm we are done and I release them to their gadgets, Netflix, and snacks ( why are they always so hungry?) and I settle down to 3 hours of my own work.

One day at a time!

I have a distinct, nagging feeling of not doing anything that well. However, I do know that at least some parts of it, are getting done – to a degree. It’s never going to be perfect and some days we nail it, and others it’s a complete write-off and nothing went that well. I have had to adopt the attitude of seeing every day as one step closer to hopefully being back to normal, to days at the sea-side or the zoo, camping holidays and trips to visit Gramp in Somerset, and even the chance to one day see our family in Canada and Australia! Onwards and upwards!

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