Much like the rest of the parents of the world, I started our period of isolation, pulling out every vaguely educational book I have ever bought my kids since birth and arranged them decoratively on my dining room table, ready to embark on a new career as a home schooling mum.
Rory’s story cubes, Kids Articulate and UNO were all taken out of the cupboard and arranged beautifully, intertwined amongst the afore mentioned books, to provide my children with an interactive learning opportunity, if they became bored with the vast array of books I had provided for their perusal.
By Monday lunchtime, I had pretty much exhausted myself with the preparation of a welcoming and exciting learning space for my children and needed a cheeky glass of pinot grigio, plonking my kids down in front of Netflix to watch Boss Baby (business studies class).
Tuesday was a bank holiday in Ireland, so not technically a school day, but I got creative and we did our own little parade out on the drive whilst I filmed it to send to the Grandparents. Saoirse was mortified and made me swear not to post it on social media of any description. Patrick got busy and made a Lego parade.
We ate ice cream and dodged the rain, pretty much like any other St Patrick’s Day really! I have to be honest, I think the nation collectively sighed in relief at not having to go and stand in the cold and rain, dutifully watching a parade showcasing the talents of their child’s Irish dancing/rugby/youth.scouts group. Cheering and waving a flag or using it to wipe the rain of the screen of their IPhone camera.
Hopefully the parades will be re-scheduled later in the year when the weather will be a bit brighter and we may look happier in selfies as we aren’t soaked to the skin in the mid-March Irish weather.
The week continued much in the same vein as Monday! If I spent half as much time actually watching some of the virtual tours of interesting and educational places around the world, as I did sharing them on social media or the abundance of newly formed Whats App groups, then I would be doing well and my children would be applying for summer jobs as museum curators. But really, the closet we have got to a virtual tour is watching ‘Night at the Museum’
Lets be honest, we all know that it is important to maintain some level of engagement in our children’s education but momentum has gone a little awry and it’s only the end of week one. Unless of course you count the treasure hunt for loo roll?
I have been religious about reading with my children every day to keep that skill alive and have definitely engaged in some educational games, we even watched a few episodes of ‘Blue Planet’, but too be honest I have been having too much fun playing with and reconnecting with them in the past week. I’m ashamed to say, it’s been a very long time since I fully committed to playtime.
Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t the Waltons, rather than shouts of ‘”goodnight Mary Ellen” you’d be more likely to hear me screaming “I said get into bed now Erin”. We have had some very hairy moments most days, and in our crazy life, they are moments that would make most families run away and hide for ever. But too be honest, it is something we have had to get used to and have tried our best to recognise those moments are part of our day, but not all of it.
Like so many of us, without realising, I had slowly been drifting away from family life, one “I’ll be with you in a minute” at a time and it has been lovely to reconnect on life’s great little moments.
I sat and watched one of my favourite childhood movies ‘Neverending Story’ with my daughters. Erin and I took a stroll on the beach and even got in a bit of maths as she worked out how many sweets she had left in her bag of five after eating three.
Patrick, whilst struggling greatly with the anxiety of all that is happening, has engaged more positively with his sisters, particularly Saoirse, than he has in a very long time and they spent hours of ‘PE’ time all together out on the trampoline this afternoon.
I love nothing better than listening to the screams of fun from my children playing outside in the sunshine (even though some of the screams might be due to a stray bump of heads – that’s life).
To be fair, most schools are advocating that there is no need for over zealous school schedules to be followed, especially for parents who are also trying to work from home too – we recognise how hard teachers work but usually they don’t have to double job during the school day.
Most social media posts being shared quicker than the virus itself, now promote a focus on emotional security for our children and development of resilience in a time of crisis, kindness to one another and development of baking, handwashing and home cleaning skills.
For anyone insisting on continuing with a colour coded, hourly broken down, home schooling schedules, for what could be the rest of the school year, lets remember to at least sometimes, follow the un-schooling approach. Basically letting our children lead the way on learning practical life skills in an interactive environment.
If that doesn’t work out, I’m sure I saw a post on Facebook, where NASA were offering an astronaut guided virtual tour of Jupiter.