Well- that was brutal to say the least.
It is now 3pm, and I have finished my first ever school day homeschooling.
If I were going to describe it- and I now have a list of PG adjectives to help me- I’d use; neverending, painful, harrowing.
It was like being shoved into a swimming pool that no matter how good a swimmer you were – everything is a shock. And you spend the rest of the day trying to keep your head above water, trying not to panic and get to the edge of the pool.
Thank god for the Whatsapp group of parents who are experiencing similar things.
I know that with time, this will get better, everything will ease into place and I’ll look back on it with fondness. Ha!
So, while its still fresh in my head, I’ll start with how I had prepared and gone into it, what I found and what I’ll do differently for Monday. (All I can say is TFIF- time for pizza and beer- even though its 3pm).
Preparing in my head
I design university curricula amongst other things, and I had been thinking about how to teach and use this whole thing as a positive experience, I would have weekly themes. Work is a drag, the kids have got it right in that respect, so if I can tailor it to inspire them, then all the better. So contextualising all of the English, Maths, art, excercise under the theme of say; dragons, or Superzings- all the better.
My friend had sent a timetable she found on instagram and I’ve included it here. Scroll the page to see realisitic expecations.
Overarching aims were to include: time outside, TV as a treat (20 minute episode of Ninjago or Bakugan), Facetiming with friends, Making a reward chart, Getting up and keeping the school day routine.
Your Learning Space Prep
Then there was the how am I going to create a space of learning? The learning space has to be separate from the bedroom, from distractions. So I have a room in which I do my work and I chose that.
Now not all people have the luxury that I do of having that extra room or two to use. Push comes to shove, you get a special box in which you keep all the writing stuff and get it out at the dining room table.When school finishes- away goes that ‘Box of Delights’.
I got a crappy plastic childs table from my garden, that has been there over a decade (a mental nanny I once had bought them- she really was batshit). Anyways, I had a small chair too- not sure from where, I washed and bleached them down yesterday. Not the prettyest, but my boy didn’t seem to mind.
Preparing your child
Then there was the prepping my son. Letting him know how exciting a time this was and all the amazing things were were going to do in this period. Again, I have a garden and it has a small pond- we were going to do gardening and outdoorsy stuff.
I thought- what if people don’t have a garden? Well, at one time I lived in a flat and grew flowers and windowbox veg and so actually a lot of the growing would actually go on indoors in little pots. So I bought seeds- loads.
We also went to WHSmiths and got a couple of rubbers – funny novelty ones like footballs- totally useless, but that wasnt the point and a very fancy diary with a lock, some A3 paper and an awesome poster of Minibeasts that he chose.
I woke at 6 like usual with a splitting headache. Is it Corona or is it all the computer screen work I’ve been doing to try and work remotely? I’m so rubbish with computers sometimes. I had an accidental online encounter with 120 students yesterday thinking I was having a private 1:1 session with a student. It all worked out well in the end, quite amusingly actually- but I am not as computer literate as I should be.
Then there was the shennanigans setting up all the remote learing stuff with the school, through microsoft teams- wtf is that-firefly, passwords and all that stuff. Such a massive headache.Literally.
I had spoken to my boy the night before using the superhero resource https://coronalockdown.blog/resources/ and incredibly, he bought it. We set out the clothes he was going to wear so he could get dressed by himself and in the morning he kept on about being a superhero (he had ‘flash/batman socks on).
Usually we have breakfast about 7 and after that he does a couple of spellings. So we did that. Brushed teeth and then it came to the time to leave for school. We usually walk for 20 minutes, so I went into the garden and began to tidy the bloody thing up, while Will kicked a ball around.
I realised at 8.30 I still hadn’t set up his desk, so we went in, and I grabbed his table. Will grabbed his chair telling me it was superhero stuff. (So sweet).
I decided at the last minute to use a desktop screen and not my crappy laptop for the distance learning stuff. It meant he would have space on his desk looking at a screen distant to himself- I now realise that it was the right thing to do btw.
I logged in. Apparently there was going to be a hello message from the teachers. I found it. I played it. It was the wrong class. Will was getting tetchy.
Eventually after a few panicked -‘what the hell am I doing?’ I found what I needed. 5 lessons to be done that day.Blimey. Who knew there were so many elements to English- how far the British education system has come since 1979.
The links used today can all be found under resourceshttps://coronalockdown.blog/resources/
Still not having located the comprehension stuff and the section on minibeasts I had skipped to Maths. I found this first phase the easiest- probably cos I had an alert enaged child. By 10.15 we were done. Into the garden again. I set my timer for 25 minutes.
My boy literally ran and ran and ran about. I got him to eat a snack. Nothing I had was appealling to him. Apparently he wanted a ‘packet’ of something. We settled on yoghurt and fruit. I did explain that the food situation was going to mean that he would not longer be getting what he wanted, if Sainsburys yesterday was anything to go by.
He was cool with that.
Run up to lunch
We managed one bit of work, the comprehension, which coincidentally was the same topic as his poster. The interest was there, but writing a sentence about minibeasts- oh my god.
It got done. There may or may not have been tears. Then I realised, as I wiped my eyes that I had to cook lunch. F**k. I could really use a housekeeper about now.
The go to lunch of scrambled egg then an hour of playing in the garden put stuff to rights, then for the final push we went back to the room at 1.15.
The final Push
Spellings can take a jump. We will do those in the ‘before school’ breakfast bit, like we usually do. What was left then was the writing- As I wondered again, ‘who knew there were so many elements to writing?’
We listened to an online story and then had to write some descriptions about the book. Actually went better than I thought. I wasn’t at this point feeling so harrowed and could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I finished the day by listening to a story, as had been recommended. It was about a dougnut called Arnie who didn’t want to get eaten, narrated by Chris O’Dowd. I fell asleep. It had been a long day.
When the story ended, I gave will a Superzing. He loves them. In future he will be earning one a week based on the chart of behaviour- yet to be created.
Weekends are weekends and no work or evidence of homeschool work takes place. We lie in, relax and forget about Monday- until Sunday eve.
Things I learned
- I need to sort this out otherwise I am going to die of a stroke doing this for 2 months.
- Structure and routine are essential
- I need to sort out a meal plan
- Download all lessons & powerpoints and print all resources at the start of the day and look over them – Save them onto your computer.
Lessons so far have been divided into
- Maths: Numbers &Addition Subtraction
- English: Spelling, Reading, Comprehension, Writing, Journal stuff.
I’m going to put on my thinking cap to see how we can get weekly themes incoorporated, but I’ll leave that for Sunday eve. Maybe.