As we head towards two months of lockdown (and mercifully the half term break), I thought it would be good to have a look back on how it’s been for our little family. Surprisingly the hardest part hasn’t necessarily been making sure the technology is right for home working and home learning, nor has it been making sure everybody doesn’t kill each other.
The biggest challenge has been teaching the children. Both the primary school and secondary school have been great at setting work and home work but both have fallen short in supporting the learning. Teachers haven’t been available to explain tricky concepts or processes to the kids and that has been left entirely to us, and the majority of the primary school marking has been done by us from answer sheets that cause as many problems as they solve. We’re not alone, I’ve read plenty on twitter that parent assisted SPAG tests have thrown scores of 0/20 or similar but the thing that’s particularly bugged me is the lack of proof reading on both lessons and tests set. More than once I’ve had our 11 year old in tears because she’s done badly on a maths test and when she’s marked it herself can’t understand where she’s gone wrong. When I’ve checked the answers, the answers have been either plain wrong or the answer to an entirely different question.
This is a good example:
34 multiplied by anything over 1 simply has to be more than 34, so both the possible answers are wrong. Of course 3/4 multiplied by 1 1/5 is 9/10, so in this instance the question is wrong and the answers are right but try telling that to an 11 year old doing a timed test.
My rusty old chemistry A Level work needs brushing up but then I did sit chemistry in 1993 and only achieved a D grade for it. Yes, year 8 science is a bit harder than correcting the typos primary teachers are making but it is more rewarding. It’s simply challenging to get either of the boys to concentrate enough to do their work and if either of them are diligent enough to work hard and do it to the best of their ability, it is a rarity.
So schoolwork aside, the other challenges have been rather unique to our rather unique family. The kids have demanded to watch rather too many Adam Sandler movies in the evenings, which has driven me up the wall but since I restricted their access to YouTube they’ve also developed a bizarre obsession with the BBC’s Citizen Khan. Yes, you read that right, a sitcom about a larger than life Pakistani family. The mind boggles.
We initially had some problems with the 13 year old who decided that the new normal was staying up until 3am and getting up around lunch time. He got the hump when there was nobody around to watch movies with at 10pm onwards though so we managed to resolve that after a bit of a fight. Even now I do my best drill instructor impression at about 8 in the morning in an attempt to get him up. His cooking has leveled up inasmuch as he makes himself a really fully toasted wrap or fish finger sandwich for breakfast every morning. He’s now living his official best life and only the prospect of going back to the classroom before the end of the academic year has him worried (he refuses to believe that he won’t be going back, ever the pessimist!)
Personally after an initial wobble caused by the change in routine (I’m definitely a creature of habit), I’ve settled in nicely to working from home. The improvement in the weather has helped an awful lot and now I’m sat in the playroom looking out on the garden, which is a lot lighter than where I was sat initially. The work I do is particularly suited for remote working too, and since we’re using Zoom and MS Teams for communicating, it’s all working well now I’ve adapted to the change.
I’m even enjoying seeing more of my family, which I know for a lot of families isn’t necessarily a given!