All parents are struggling with home learning, even with adequate resources

I have a 15-year-old and 11-year-old – recently started S4 and finishing P7. There have certainly been many highs and lows over the last 11 weeks. The mood in the house at the start was one of fear and anxiety – the kids were scared about Coronavirus and about who would get ill, they were worried about not seeing their friends and family members and about sticking to the lockdown restrictions. If we were out for a walk for approaching 60 minutes the kids would get very anxious about being outside. We started watching government briefings together but then realised that it was much better to talk about it using our own words. But there was also the novelty – getting workstations set up and going for different walks. We did a lot of baking and eating and things to look after ourselves like finding games we could all play and making nice meals.

This novelty did not last very long at all! It soon became clear that with two parents trying to work providing any support during the working day would be challenging and sitting in front of a laptop was very dull. They both really missed seeing their teachers from a personal and teaching perspective. My son was given a laptop last year from his Granny which has been a Godsend, but my daughter is using an old laptop that takes about 10 minutes to start up and is very frustrating to work with. We started off trying to work in different places. However, it quickly became obvious that this wouldn’t work as resisting phone distractions was too difficult! My son has needed a lot of support to decide how to tackle the work set and adjust to working from Teams.

Although my kids have both missed the social aspect of school, they have also missed the things they do outside of school just as much. My son usually goes to rugby training two times a week and plays at the weekend which is a significant part of his week. My daughter has missed the sports she does out of school and the structure this usually gives her week. Our local Scouts Group have continued their meetings for Scouts and Explorers via Zoom which has been so important – their activities are creative and make my kids feel like some normality has been retained.

I have to say that from my perspective I have loved the different pace that working from home and no activities has created – I usually leave my house at 6.30am to get the bus to work and then spend every evening taking or picking up from a club. I know I will pine for this time once things have started up again.

Learning motivation is now really low; and the end of term can’t come quick enough. My daughter is very disappointed to miss the end of primary school things that usually happen and transition activities. The high school has sent a few things to look at but the communication of everything electronically is now pretty overwhelming – for all of us – and doesn’t create excitement or address worries. My inbox is crammed with messages from the two schools which are all very supportive but make me break out in a cold sweat when they pop into my inbox and I feel I am massively behind in reading and actioning anything. All the supporting home learning materials that are flying around make me panic, not help as they are intended to.

I know that the summer will be easier for us as I won’t need to support home learning while working and my kids are old enough to go out by themselves and see friends. However, I know that for parents of younger children the summer will be a huge challenge. I also feel quite concerned about what percentage of time the kids will be in school in August. I can’t imagine having to do all this again for the new term and academic year…