What lessons might we learn from the home-schooling struggle?

It’s 8am, the sun is shining, the house is tidy and boiled eggs with fresh bread are placed in front of my two children who are fully dressed. At 8.40am, laptops open, pens and notepads at the ready my children smile and get ready to embrace their learning for the day ………….and then I wake up.

Home schooling is proving a challenge. Today we’ve had tantrums, shouting, slamming doors and tears …. and that’s just me! I’m questioning my parenting skills like never before. How is it that I can manage large hostels and complex programmes and yet I can’t apply my own training in leadership, management or motivational skills to get my teenage child to raise her head from her pillow in time for the new virtual school day? I am being tested, from juggling work and a new daily negotiation with my kids and, is anyone else worried about the impact of this period on their children?  

Of course, my struggles are mild compared to those who have children that face greater learning challenges, disadvantages and are unable to access resources. The attainment and progress gap for those children was already too big, despite the different pupil premium interventions.

“I remain optimistic”

Perhaps, now we have all tried teaching for ourselves, as a society we might be more prepared to listen and learn from the people who are trained in this amazing career (and who I value a little bit more every day!). Perhaps this huge systemic disruption will teach us to embrace different learning styles and reconsider a system which relies on a single exam to measure the ability of a child.

Children who previously needed additional support will need it even more and children’s mental health will need a rethink. Not just a referral to CAMHS – which is already at its maximum capacity – or a shift onto the teachers who have the passion but may not have the skills or capacity. We need to think more creatively and work outside of silos to share our learning across sectors, supporting one another and listening to everyone concerned. 

I remain optimistic. My own experience has taught me how resilient children can be. This pandemic will build a different generation of strengths and attributes and we need to support that character building with new tools for children of all ages.

It is as important to look after your own mental and physical wellbeing as much as we do for our children

Right now, for me every day is a new timetable, a new negotiation, a prompt, and a nudge. It’s getting easier… I have enjoyed the evolving creative curriculum with soup being made for lunch, artwork on show and free a hair cut for my son – my girl has hidden talents uncovered by the limitations of lockdown! We will probably be just about sorted when the school gates open again, and the battle will shift to getting my daughter out of the actual door as well as out of bed.  

If you are struggling, you are not alone, reach out for support across fellow parents and colleagues to explain how hard it is. It is as important to look after your own mental and physical wellbeing as much as we do for our children. #childrensmentalhealthweek2021