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The Truth About Home Schooling During the Pandemic

Schooling from home and enjoying baking
Anoushka baking

Physio Ali Yeo turns Primary School Teacher!

I have changed careers once before to become a physio but I never imagined that I would try my hand at primary school teaching. Although I am usually calm and professional, the thought of becoming my children’s teacher had me reaching for wine. It was definitely not on my bucket list. So it was with some trepidation that I collected my children on what seems to be their last day of school for the academic year. 

I have two children, Lance, age 11, and Anoushka, age 9. “It will only be for a few short weeks” I thought “and most of it is the Easter holidays so it will be fine.” We joked with the teachers about seeing them in September – little did we know! 

My Son…

Lance is in year 6, the final year of primary school. For his cohort, their SATS results will determine how they are streamed into subjects by ability at their new school. They were cancelled and he was not remotely bothered.

He had been through the 11 plus so was fed up with doing exams after a long slog over Christmas and January. However, I can sympathise with all parents whose children are disappointed to miss exams or events that they were preparing for. A levels, GSCES and SATS. Like London marathon runners, once you have put in the hours, most of us want to finish the job and find out how well you could perform. 

Playing cricket in the park during lockdown

Lance was, however, bothered about missing the end of school week away on an adventure island, the disco, the final picnic, summer sports like cricket and tennis, sports day and final assembly.

He was less upset to miss singing at the Royal Albert Hall with thousands of other year 6 children and performing a dance to the whole school – a tradition at his primary.

I am gutted that he may have finished primary school without a proper last day. Please let him start secondary school in September in an actual school rather than my guest bedroom.

My Daughter…

My daughter Anoushka is 9 and a much keener to please. She sends her teacher endless updates on what she is doing on an almost hourly basis. I have had to explain to her that her teacher does not need to know that she is going for lunch.

For her, the interactive website to communicate with her teachers has been interpreted as a surveillance tool where she must account for all movements. She is in year 4 and needs a lot more support with her work. I have also learned that 9 years olds cannot speed through their work to “get it over and done with” which means all my plans to do fun things seem to be falling to the wayside.

Her favourite lesson is cooking, or more specifically baking anything with a high sugar content. She is an organised child who has a zoom meeting with friends scheduled daily at 4pm to dissect their day, play hangman, cards or sadly more often online games.

The Subject of Choice…

It is probably the biggest challenge of lockdown to prevent my children becoming addicts of Fortnite and Roblox as “everyone is playing right now”. However, because I like sports and so does my husband, we argue over who teaches what with PE being first to be picked. And we bunk off subjects like RE and history to go out and exercise.

Traditional summer sports like cricket and tennis are on the curriculum, without boundaries & nets. We play hockey whilst being socially distanced and the whole family runs 100m sprints. This ends in arguments and some tears (usually from the grown ups!). Watch your hamstrings –they need warming up…

Tightrope walking in Clapham Common!

We have cycled into London to visit the Queen. The streets are empty compared to the parks and commons. I highly recommend the cycle super highway – it has been a brilliant time to teach kids road cycling safety. So we have managed to have some fun between the bickering and whining, snacking and shouting. Lastly, we have added new skills to PE.

These new activities are a hit. With a few cheap purchases, we now own a tight rope and some Olympic rings that can be tied to any solid tree.

We look like we have started a circus school and are the envy of Clapham Common’s under 10s. This will be our lasting memory of lockdown, balancing on a tightrope and finally making it the whole way across.

Closing Thoughts…

In fact, the irony of lockdown is that whilst I am not working my usual three days a week, I seem to have less time to get anything personal done. My dream of getting some DIY jobs done is hopeless as the constant refrain of “I’m hungry”, “I’m finished” and “ I need help” prevents anything more than a quick text or making a bed. We are all missing the fun stuff: nights out, suppers with friends, seeing Granny, hugging our friends, ski holidays, weekends at the beach and picnics in the park in the early glorious sunshine we have had almost daily since the lockdown began.   Is it wrong to say that one of the people I miss the most is my cleaner? Now that I am all things to all people, I long for the days when I was just a Physio and a Mum.

MY TOP TIPS

  • Remember that this will pass.
  • Shouting at someone doesn’t make them understand what you are teaching – if you have an older child, recruit them instead.
  • BBC Bitesize is brilliant.
  • There are never enough snacks to feed children – bulk buy nuts and fruit.
  • Read with your children – apparently that is the single most important thing they should do.
  • Teach counting backwards. You can only subtract and divide it if you have that skill.
  • Buy a tightrope – kids like being better at something than their parents!
  • Learn how to make a frozen margarita – check out my friend and colleague, physio Katriona Pengelley (Ryan) on Instagram.

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