Insta-perfect home-schooling!

I signed off my last blog a month ago with ‘see you on the other side’…we had already been isolating a week by that point and I had no intention of blogging during the Covid-19 lockdown for many reasons. One being that I knew the world and its Grandma would be doing just that and whilst I have noted down my thoughts, feelings, our journey throughout this difficult time, I am choosing not to share it until this whole ‘thing’ is over with, and even then it will be documented purely as history for the boys, and anyone else, to look back on.

So why have I decided to write this blog now?

Partly because i’ve had lots of blog readers, friends, nursery mums get in touch with me stressing about ‘home-schooling’ their children and I wanted to reflect on the hoards of instagram perfect home-schoolers who make the rest of us feel inferior. Albeit perhaps unintentionally.

Now, I held back for a long while of posting any updates  of Austin and Rory to social media,  because I didn’t want to feed the anxiety of those mums who feel like they aren’t doing enough (including me) but also, we haven’t really done anything ground-breaking. I haven’t really sent much by way of ‘what we are up to’ to nursery either, I haven’t looked at any of the resource links the Teachers sent or downloaded the class reward system and if I’m honest, i’ve tried to shut off any external pressures because for me, keeping myself and my two boys safe and healthy is first and foremost, and managing that is hard enough right now.

Yesterday i began to upload pictures of what we had been up to. And I did it with a conscious mind that social media is a snapshot, it may look like we’ve done lots and lots, but these are all 5-10 minute activities and we have lots of down time (TV / Pad / playing) that isn’t necessarily documented. And I want to share that too. It is important to put it into context.

So, here is a dose of our reality, and with my Teacher head on and my Mummy head, I am telling you that this is ok.

For the first week, we just survived. Everyone was fed and loved, absolutely ZERO planned learning activity took place. I was in bed poorly. There were lots of things to process.

For the second week, we survived and we did lots of playing. Towards the end of that week we made a list of 5-10 minute activities that we could do with the boys, anything from a name jigsaw, to a shape hunt around the house. Absolutely nothing ground breaking. We aimed to do minimum 4 of those activities which would be ‘adult-directed’ every day. I still wasn’t 100%, this didn’t happen. And that is ok.

This week, I reorganised the playroom. I put some toys / resources in one box for Rory, and some in another for Austin (they are very different in their next steps, what they enjoy) and I put some things with numbers and problem solving in a box for maths and some letter related in another box for literacy; anything from plastic cups with letters written on, to pom poms in a box to count with. Again, nothing ground breaking. Each day we have done  a minimum of 4 activities from their box and then one from the literacy and maths box. These really are only 5 minute activities and the entire time we spend doing these activities might only be half an hour, and the rest of the day we will play, have a local walk and run off steam climbing trees in the garden. The boys have had down time with pads or TV lots too, but again that’s ok. This is a really difficult time and it is ok not to be sat at a table writing lines upon lines of letters, your name, sentences about whatever or writing out numbers or completing sums because actually that is not ALL of what learning is.

Learning happens everywhere.

Every conversation you have with your little one is learning. Count the stairs as you climb them. learning. Let them help cook the tea, carry the shopping in, clean the house. It is all learning. Looking at the weather and choosing what to wear. Learning. Which bin to put the rubbish in. Learning. Playing is learning.

We haven’t baked buns, we haven’t made hundreds of crafts or painted. We haven’t planted flowers or made rainbows. That is ALL ok.

Everyone is facing different challenges, everyone is finding this difficult and lots of people had ‘stuff’ to deal with before Covid_19 arrived on our doorstep and made life a whole lot more challenging.

STOP comparing your efforts to something you see on social media. STOP beating yourself up that you aren’t doing enough. Teachers are not expecting you to be ‘teaching’ your children Monday to Friday. Yes they might be setting work or sending you links over and resources but that is mostly to support you to keep the kids entertained. And yes it would be great if your children kept their brains active, but there is no pressure and your children are not going to fail at life because they didn’t ‘do enough home-schooling during the lockdown’…you never know, they might learn life skills, self-regulation, emotional intelligence. Skills that REALLY matter in the big world.

Ask yourself this, those instagram perfect home-school mums that were all over social media in the first week with their colourful planning walls, rigorous timetables, resources organised neatly in plastic wallets and perfectly behaved children doing Joe Wicks PE followed by Carol Vorderman maths, where are they now?

They are in reality like the rest of us, trying to hold it all together, trying to work from home or trying to entertain the kids all day – in some cases all of the above. It’s a scary place for the grown ups right now, you don’t need this extra pressure.

From the parent who tracked their boys progress for their first 3 years to support their development delay and planned and delivered activities to support, from the parent who plans activities for school holidays and is heavily involved in school learning, from the parent who’s playroom resembles her classroom, the parent who rotates resources and toys to suit her childs next steps, from the parent who is also a Teacher and who has ridiculously high if not often unattainable expectations, know that I am more relaxed now than ever with regards to ‘home-schooling’…

Make sure your children are fed, happy and loved. Enjoy the time with them and they will learn as they go. Anything else is a bonus!

Much love xx

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