Tag Archives: home schooling

March 5th 2020 (50 Excerpt)

Last night I made a big decision. I’ve been closely following the coronavirus epidemic and I came to the conclusion that I need to begin social distancing as soon as possible. After much thought I have decided to keep the children home from school from Monday (which is in four days’ time) and we’ll also be maintaining a distance from the public and even friends and family. There are just over 96,000 confirmed cases worldwide including 3,300 fatalities. Italy and Delhi are closing all schools until further notice and many countries are now banning large gatherings and events. I worry that fears of damaging the economy might mean strong measures such as these won’t come into effect here until the last minute, when it’s absolutely necessary (which in my opinion will already be too late). Shutting down society will affect people’s ability to go out to work, and capitalism and money are so important in the UK. I think the money men are going to dictate how we tackle this virus.

I’m not waiting until everyone is dropping like flies to self-isolate and stay away from public places. I’m going to do it now, even though it’s early and I’m sure I’ll be blamed for stoking fears, being unnecessarily cautious, and preventing my children from continuing their education. It’s taken a lot of thought, but the more I analyse the situation worldwide, the more I believe that where Italy leads, the rest of us will soon follow. It’s spreading endemically there now, beyond the control of anyone, and because we in the UK haven’t undertaken any special measures to protect the population other than asking people to wash their hands, I’m taking matters into my own (thoroughly washed) hands. I’m living in fear. I can’t sleep at night. I feel relieved that I’ve made a decision, a decision that my gut was urging me to make a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a bit scary because I know I’ll be criticised, and I don’t think anyone will agree with me. But due to my special circumstances (already working part-time from home) and the fact that I’m probably keeping the closest eye on developments, I trust myself over others and will act on my knowledge and predictions rather than waiting to be told what to do by anyone.

The overall death rate of people who catch the virus has been raised to 3.4% and I suspect it’ll increase. The one good thing to come out of all of this is that experts think the under twenties are much less affected than older people. The older you are, the more severe it seems to be. Which is not great news for me, and certainly not for my parents. They’re likely to die if they get it, while I’m more likely to merely suffer. The twins are apparently barely likely to notice they even have it. I can’t bear the idea of struggling to breathe. I can deal with pain. I have frequent migraines and have given birth to three children. I know what agony is. But gasping for breath, heart racing, having to rest just because I want to walk to the toilet… that’s very frightening. How could I be a single mother while dealing with this? I need to be able to cook and clean and comfort the kids, and generally have the energy and ability to look after them in every way I normally do. If I go into intensive care (supposing there’s even a bed available) who will look after my children? I need to stay healthy for them.

My intention is to create a timetable for weekdays so we don’t just sit at home and play computer games or watch television. We need to include physical education, French, maths, English, reading and writing, at the very least, but I’m hoping to also include geography, biology, history, and some kind of project work. I will do my best, but I’m not a teacher and have only a very basic understanding of maths. I’ll research the books, schedules, materials and techniques of home schooling and see what I can come up with. I don’t want the twins’ education to suffer if I can help it. I’ve got four days to get everything organised. It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to get through it. Somehow.

Back Inside Our Homes

Lockdown 3.0 has taken effect. The Government says that the current rate of Covid-19 infection is worse than the first peak, which I can readily believe. The news is grim with this new variation which is 50% – 70% more transmissible than the original strain. Deaths are going to rise. What awful suffering is out there, unseen, unknown to us, who are battling away with kids in our living rooms as we try and get them to concentrate on their online lessons.

For the last three days I’ve had a dry, tickly cough and I feel ever so slightly chesty – like a minor version of the symptoms I had back in April 2019. The kids and I feel as if we have mild colds. I’ve ordered a Covid test which is being collect by courier on Friday (I ordered the test yesterday, Monday). It was the earliest they could do. I expect I’ll be feeling fine by then and won’t have any symptoms, so STILL won’t know whether I’ve had Covid, twice.

I have one child upstairs on her laptop doing geography and the other downstairs coughing away doing history. They’re both finding sitting in a chair all day long staring at a screen very challenging. Isn’t that what adults do at work? These are eleven-year-old children. I want them to be outside running free with their friends, playing games, and having fun. But this is 2021. We don’t have any friends. It’s the depths of winter and it’s FREEZING outside.

But this shall pass!! Signs of spring will emerge in a month or two.

Meanwhile, there’s comfort food.

Home Schooling (50 excerpt)

Early April 2020

Question one of the first worksheet the school had sent us to was:

Write the factors of each number in the pairs: 24, 40

The problem with this question was that the children didn’t know what that meant. And neither did I. I don’t know what a factor is, or why there were pairs of numbers and not just one single number. Amy immediately got stressed and started thumping the desk and shouting that she didn’t understand. Jack, on the other hand immediately answered all the questions, wrongly, in about ten seconds flat, then stood up and loudly boasted he’d finished already, waving his paper in our faces. Amy screamed at him to shut up and go away. Confusion reigned. I looked up ‘What is a factor’ on Google, but I didn’t understand the information so couldn’t explain it to the children. Amy started crying and saying she HATED MATHS and was RUBBISH AT MATHS. Jack rubbed out all his work after I told him it was wrong (even I could tell his answers were just random numbers). His ADHD means that he’ll skim read a question and get the meaning wrong, then rush the answers which are themselves all wrong, before he realises he has to start all over again at the beginning by reading the questions properly. He doesn’t do slow and logical. He doesn’t do methodical and careful. And he doesn’t learn from his mistakes because he approaches his school work in this exact same way every single time.

At this point I decided I needed help so I phoned a friend. Lindsay very kindly attempted to explain the question to us via WhatsApp video call. I half understood, but neither of my children did. I then had another go at explaining it to them myself, expanding on Lindsay’s information (third time lucky?) but both children glazed over and interrupted saying it wasn’t making sense. I got cross and told them to keep quiet for GOD’S sake and LISTEN whilst I try to explain. In response Amy threw her pencil across the floor and shouted that she didn’t understand anything. Now I shouted for everyone to shut up and behave. Both of them again repeated how much they hate maths (even though at school Jack used to enjoy maths and do well). Everyone’s stress levels were sky high.

The twins attempted to answer the first question one more time — one crying, the other in a world of his own weirdness and confusion writing down numbers and circling random printed digits on his page (although I didn’t understand why on earth there were numbers printed in the boxes where he was supposed to be writing down the answers). After a few minutes Amy stopped struggling, tears running down her cheeks, and said she still didn’t understand it. But neither did I, so I couldn’t help her. I could only shrug. I noticed Jack was staring out of the window.

Forty-five minutes had somehow passed and it was the end of maths. I marked their ‘work,’ but when I looked at Jack’s paper I suddenly realised I’d accidentally given him the answer sheet instead of the questions. No wonder he already had numbers printed in the answer boxes, no wonder he was confused. I hadn’t noticed before because I thought those numbers were somehow part of the question. That’s how bad my understanding of maths is.

Everyone was unhappy and exhausted. If asked, we couldn’t do the same question again tomorrow because we don’t know how we got the (mostly incorrect) answers this time. How is that teaching? Amy sobbed and ran upstairs. This was the first lesson of the day. I’m simply not equipped to teach maths. I have no training, no ability, no understanding, and I can’t do it. I’m making my children worse at this subject. I never expected to have to be a maths teacher and would never set myself up to be one. I can’t do this alone without the support of school. Jack does have quite a good understanding, but I’m gradually confusing him and undermining his confidence. And with my assistance Amy is solidifying her block against it.