Home Schooling – The new normal
The decision to close schools on 20 th March immediately threw family life into chaos for family across
the UK. The routine of getting the kids dress for school and waving them off for the day disappeared,
and was replaced by uncertainty, confusion, and dread for many families.
As a teacher, I placed a high degree of expectation on myself that I would now become my children’s
teacher and take on full responsibility for their education, all the while continuing to do my ‘normal’
job from home. It quickly became apparent that my expectations were wildly optimistic and, if
anything, were having a detrimental impact on both my work, and the standard of learning that my
children were receiving.
So I decided to cut myself (and my children) a bit of slack, and focus on creating an environment
where there was no pressure the do a certain amount of work in a day, or to make sure that certain
tasks were completed within a certain timeframe. As much as this is a difficult time for us as parents,
it is equally, or even more challenging for our children. Their whole lives have been turned upside
down. They can’t see their friends, their teachers, or their grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins,
etc., and are having to cope with their daily routine being completely different to what they are used
So, I donned my teacher hat and came at the issue from a different angle and set to creating a
productive working environment for both myself and my children.
The first step was preparation – planning what activities we were going to attempt for that day (I’ve
purposely used the work attempt here!) My first port of call was looking at what their class teachers
had provided to make sure that we were able to do them at home. My children’s teachers are
fantastic and have provided a stream of activities and resources that we can do at home, so I have
been very fortunate in this area. I also tried to plan activities that my children would enjoy and want
to do. As an example, I have started giving my daughter piano lessons twice a week, and (so far) she
loves going to practice in between our lessons and is excited to learn new things each lesson.
The next step was to set a routine. This included ‘wake-up’ times, breaks, set lunchtimes, and a
‘normal’ bedtime. Children are used to having routines and I think this has made the transition to
home-schooling a lot easier.
Next, I decided to set up a ‘classroom’. It’s important to distinguish between working and relaxation
spaces, so my dining table then became ‘Mr Jones’ Classroom’. For my children, this has worked
really well. The are no distractions for them and they know that when they are sat at the table, it is
time for them to do school work.
We are now fully into our new working week and home-schooling has become the new norm. I am
not going to tell you that it has been easy, because it hasn’t. I won’t say that there haven’t been
difficulties (and arguments!), because there have been. I won’t even say that I have given my
children the same education they would have had in school, because I know that I haven’t. My
children are dying to go back to school, and when it is safe for schools to re-open, they will be there
with their uniforms on and their school bags packed. But until then, I’ll continue to do my best to
make sure that they have some semblance of normality.
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway - I am immensely proud of my children, as I know all parents are, and they way the are coping with the current situation, and if there is one thing I want them to remember when all this blows over; it doesn’t matter have many maths questions they have answered, and how many books
they’ve read. All that matters is that they know how proud of them my wife and I are and that we
love them with all of our being.