Modern Mum: What really happens with lockdown home-schooling?

Muddy puddles and daily walks are part of the routine in the Nevard family.

Muddy puddles and daily walks are part of the routine in the Nevard family. - Credit: LOUISA NEVARD

As Covid cases rose at the start of January I had a very difficult decision to make.

Should I send the kids to school or not? If I didn’t I could be breaking the law. I really, really wanted to send them to school (home-schooling is not an easy option at all) but with the case numbers so high I decided not to.

I also decided to inform the school, explaining that it was a personal decision about the current pandemic situation and nothing to do with the care and attention the school give. After becoming very stressed about the decision and hearing the same from other parents too, it was all taken out of our hands with lockdown three.

The school were very prepared for this and immediately sent us lots of home-schooling to do. This time I was ready for home-schooling, this time I would know how to plan the day so that everyone would get the attention they needed.

We would start the day early and end late, but with lot of breaks, play and walks between. We woke on that first Monday at 7:30am and the plan worked so well that we progressed to waking up at 9:30am on Friday.

After all the enthusiasm on Monday the kids slowed off by Friday and required bribery of sweets and computer games to continue. This home-schooling was not as easy as I thought.

On a positive note, I did notice that a pattern was emerging with the children’s strengths and weaknesses. One child enjoyed maths and the other preferred English. One child would spend hours giving the wrong answer after misreading a question and the other child would have melt down when you said the word 'English'.

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I am wondering if the same thing will happen when they grow up? I am very tempted to visit them in their first job and roll around the floor screaming every time someone says 'English'!

By the second week, we had an advancement in technology. The teachers would be teaching live lessons three times a day, plus PE, assembly for each child. This took a lot of pressure off the toddler and I, plus the kids seemed happier learning from their teacher in a virtual classroom.

I did however, notice one of my children advancing in skills that were not taught in their virtual classroom. My child has invited additional teachers to the lessons, setting up meetings and secretly text chatting during class.

The latest disruption involved them removing the camera and filming me walking around the house! After a little chat from the teacher, I have moved their workstation to the kitchen so they can be watched by me during class too. The battles continue, but their misdemeanours were short lived.

When your child is given a homework question and the child doesn’t know the answer after spending an hour in a virtual classroom and watching a video about the topic, they come to you.

First, I read the question to them and then they star blankly at me waiting for my response. Then I ask them, “How do you think you can answer this?” “I don’t know Mummy”. I then start to ask “What have you learned about today?” They respond with a one word answer like “giraffes”. “Yes but did you learn about the where they live?” “Yes Mummy”. “So how do you think you could write where they live?” They stare blankly at you. So I bombard them with questions.. “what do they eat? What do they look like?...” I still get the blank stare. I then decide to help them answer the question and verbally give them my answer. I then say, “How would you write the answer?” “I don’t know.” In the end I write the answer and the child looks at what I’ve written, copies it out and then explains that was the wrong question for this week….urgghhh!

Instead of virtual PE we did opt for a daily morning walk instead. The daily walk may sound simple but it is in fact very hard to get everyone dressed to leave, especially on a Friday when you get up later. As a family we rarely leave the house with all of us dressed appropriately for the weather. I have often found that one child is wearing shorts instead of trousers or I have walked outside in my slippers..If it’s me who is not dressed (and it often is), it really does depend on how far you have walked before it’s too late to turn back. To drag everyone back to the house is also a task in itself, especially when you’re walking at toddler speed.

Walks at the moment are the only escape we have from the chaos of home. A change to get some fresh air and jump in muddy puddles! I do not mind mud and luckily the kids have the same mindset. All of them love jumping in muddy puddles. We do limit our puddle jumping to the return journey otherwise someone will get soggy feet too. A must on any walk is for someone to fall in the mud. The falling over part used to be my job but I have passed this baton to one of our older children. One of our children will find mud to fall in anywhere.

This has become so common they now have a special pair of jeans just to fall over in and I am happy to say they do not get any injuries. I do think a lot is to do with distraction and they’re so busy looking around, they fall over. This is very much the case for our toddler too, he is very interested in the world and he falls over a lot but luckily he still wants my hand to protect his little knees.

After missing the joys of bread making in previous lockdowns, the children and I spent a little time making bread at the weekends. Spurred on by the new baking activities at home my husband wanted to make a cake using my chocolate cake recipe for my birthday.

As I have committed the recipe to my memory my husband started making the cake to my verbal instructions. I was very busy playing with the toddler and did not look up to check what he was doing. When it was almost finished I went over to check the viscosity of the mix to find my husband hands covered in sticky, gooey cake mixture. He had assumed you mix a cake with your hands the same way that you mix bread. I couldn’t stop laughing as it reminded me of what toddler would do. My poor husband with his nutty wife.

Louisa Nevard also works on Mum’s Guide to St Neots online and on social media at: www.mumsguideto.co.uk/st-neots

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