Lucy's blog: Getting creative with never-ending homeschooling

So, I don’t know how the ‘back to school’ has gone for you but for us, my daughter went into Year 2 for exactly 4 days before getting a cough and a fever. In any other year, we’d take that one day off, had a restful weekend and come Monday when she was her usual self again, she’d be headed right back. Not in 2020 though. The school did the only thing they could do in a pandemic and insisted on a 14-day exclusion. Which worked out to 1 day being a genuinely poorly 6-year-old and 10 days of being a completely healthy 6-year-old who can’t go to school but has no remote learning alternative like there was during the national lockdown.

The normal school day and week is shorter now and this 2-week rule will happen every time she gets a temperature or any member of her class tests positive for Covid-19. Essentially, it has dawned on us, the next year will be a yo-yo of relatively normal school and the dreaded homeschool. During lockdown-homeschool, there were many days where we forgave ourselves for her not really doing enough school work because of a lack of enthusiasm or because of how busy we were at work that day. A few weeks off can’t do too much harm we all said, it is a global pandemic after all. I think, however, that there’s a huge difference mentally and emotionally between muddling through a few surreal weeks and feeling a perpetual sense of obligation to be central in your child’s education because they aren’t getting as much school as they usually would at this age (whatever age that is).

It turns out homeschool is a marathon not a sprint, and to get through a marathon you need to get creative. You need to cross-train so you’re not putting too much pressure on your joints and muscles. If you don’t, one way or another, you end up giving up. The question is how to cross-train mental maths, spelling, and the rest of a child’s education while we endure never-ending homeschool.

We’re very lucky to both be working from home and one of the key differences is that we’re all home for dinner, a rare treat in the pre-pandemic days of being working parents in the City.

So, for us, we’ve taken that time where we all pause and re-discover the joy of old school games. Counting the winnings in Uno and adding everyone’s scores over multiple rounds, counting around the edge of the domino board to work out your best play, working out how many you need to get to 21 for Blackjack (yes, we 100% taught a six year old Blackjack), counting how many places you are from the 100 square in Snakes and Ladders and (perhaps my favourite re-discovery) Yahtzee for adding and times tables. There’s word games too, like eye spy or the alphabet game where you name things in a category (like Animals, Space or Food) in order of the alphabet (A for Asteroid, B for Buzz Aldrin.. and so on). Suddenly the learning is happening in the background: double six is 12, five fives are 25, these are just a part of the game.

It’s not a complete remedy for days and sometimes weeks without a formal education or a miracle cure for parental guilt but it is fun, and if we’re going to get through another year where we’re working parents with a completely unqualified side hustle in teaching, it needs to be.

Lucy lives with her six-going-on-sixteen year old mini-me, brilliant American husband and co-parent, enormous cat (and currently also her maxi-me mother and her could-be-a-bear dog).

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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