Virtual home learning, during COVID-19

This Last year has been very challenging for most people, especially for parents who have children of school age.

Children were told they needed to learn from home. This was a difficult adjustment to make for everyone, particularly at short notice. Parents had to become home school teachers, some parents managed to make the most out of it. Others were put under enormous pressure, as each circumstance was unique (given the age and number of children in the household) domestic arrangements regarding the employment of the parent or parents, how were they to find the time and energy?

I remember my first day of home learning. I sat the children around the table, (there were three) the eldest sat and started doing his work, he was at a crucial stage of his education (year eleven) the second one in the year group below kept saying “I’ve not learnt that” and was in need of lot of support.

Then my eleven-year-old who has had constant difficulties with behaviour and learning started banging the table making strange noises. The older boys then lost interest and walked off.

My son who is eleven had been struggling at school and worked with one-to-one support. . Now he was having difficulty completing the work outside the classroom.

This gave me an opportunity to observe where he struggled. I had a plan, I discussed the lessons we were going to cover in advance and together we found work that interested him, for additional learning I had English and maths books, which he liked.

I would get up early, complete the work I was doing from home and yes I was also working’, then find the work set for the other two, have it ready to go on the computer.

I could then sit with my 11-year-old help him where he needed it. In amongst this I also had a four year old that also needed learning through play” or my attention. I was fortunate enough to have worked with all age groups, I hoped I could make it work.

With a lot of time management and planning, we created a system.

For others it was tiring and stressful, parents were trying to work with children that needed entertaining as well as learning themselves how best to teach? very difficult subjects and methods, which for the most part were unfamiliar.

I am aware parents were told; just let the child do the work by themselves, How? When they are genuinely stuck, This is when parents became upset for not being able to help the child and children lose confidence and can become angry and hide away.

Other parents were listening to other people, when they say ‘oh yes my child is doing amazing, completing five hours every day’, as I replied, what goes on behind closed doors, you will never know, try and focus on what works for you rather than what others are doing’.

I was told by some parents they were being told if the child did not log in that would be classed a truancy. These parents were worried because they were trying but their child would not be interested, My reply to this…. ‘Phone the school and make it their responsibility to support, you should not be destroying a healthy parent /child relationship over this’.

I personally had to phone for help when I went back to work after May half term, because only one of my children would do anything productive, so I sent the older who was not interested in Home schooling back into school three days a week.

My eleven-year-old was then refused his place by the school and not allowed to return due to being ‘High Risk’, I contacted my local borough for help, but was informed that “ by the time you appeal the decision the children would have broken up from school”. Now looking back, I should have pursued it but I was working every day and time was limited and life confusing.

Now the children have returned to school and the impact of home learning has been obvious, some children can barely write or the writing is far from legible. Reading is poor but to me the most worrying part is the emotional damage, their self-esteem needs rebuilding

Some children are struggling to manage social situations. They show signs of distress over what appears to be trivial circumstances

Some children are in need constant reassurance and attention. Would they have been like this anyway? We will never know.

Teachers do not only teach academically, they guide and teach you to follow instructions, e.g. What would be appropriate behaviour, manage an argument with others, sometimes you’re not always first in a line and coach you with your emotions. Its different for parents, most parents want a peaceful life, for their children to feel loved and not be upset at any means, that is okay for parents.

On the return to school for the last 12 weeks I have had a child home nearly every day due to close contact, this started with my son in year eleven, two weeks off back for a couple days then off again, then my son in year ten was off and never went back until the last week before Christmas. The problem I now had is they would not go to school or login for home learning, with bribery they would login for a little while, turn up late, they had completely lost self-motivation. I found it difficult because I was at work. I know I was not the only one.

Recently I spoke to friend and someone she talks to returns home from work and then completes the home learning with the child, This is a child who took education seriously but is now becoming stressed and having regular meltdowns over the work. Mum is being pressurised by the school to complete the work. The mum is in pieces, my answer is she needs to inform the school what is happening, parents need to tell the school the truth about their situation, you are not helping yourself or your child if you struggle on your own.

I do wonder if parents, pretend they are okay?, so that schools won’t think they are failing their children.

I have found the whole situation over whelming! As I am sure have many others.