It's Not Home Schooling It's Pandemic Schooling! 5 Reasons Why It's Nothing Like 'Normal' Home Educating (So Please Don't Think Badly Of Home Ed!)
Covid-19! Who knew it would turn our world upside down and who knew that at some point home schooling would become a word on nearly everyone's lips, for good and bad.
It seemed to start out as a novelty, and slowly became a snare dragging poor parents down into the quicksand.
Well, as usual, there are often many reasons but after hearing different views from many parents who had to go through this there seems to be some common culprits, here's my list of them and how they differ to a 'normal' home educating life:
1. Both Parents generally have full time jobs and were expected to keep on top of those as well as home schooling the kids and overseeing their schedules.
This is obviously going to cause nothing but stress for the main 'educator' who has to juggle their work commitments with motivating and organising their kids, it's no surprise that parents were left feeling frazzled and out of control. In contrast home educating parents either split their time between their job and kids or one parent takes on the 'teacher' role and the other the main earner.
2. Schools were expected to keep up the full time learning schedule for kids despite having little to no time to prep and many children didn't have access to the equipment they really needed.
Parents and schools thrown in at the deep end scrambled to amass resources and equipment and prepare to teach thousands of pupils remotely, despite never having done so before and therefore not having a decent chance to create tailor made solutions to help deliver a great teaching experience. In contrast when you choose to home ed you've likely had a good chance to research all the resources out there and select the best solutions for you and your kids. Also it's likely that home ed families already have any equipment needed or have made a conscious choice to not use screens.
3. Children were getting most of their material delivered online - including their 'P.E. sessions (why!?).
I can't speak for others, of course, but we do have a roughly monitored amount of screen time per day which tends to balance out over the week. Crucially, they are not in front of a screen for solid chunks of time and in the rare event when that has happened boy do we pay for it. For us being on screens for long periods of time causes grumpiness, emotional outbursts, tiredness and a need to just move our bodies. I would never advocate using a screen to deliver all of your home ed material, yet that is precisely what a lot of pandemic schooling families had to enforce. That is always going to prove difficult as a successful learning environment and cause friction between children and parents.
Being in front of a screen for 6 hours would cause me stress nevermind the kids!
4. Parents had no choice, they had to follow the material given whether they wanted to or not.
Home educating families have a choice, there are many paths they can choose to fulfil their responsibilities of providing a suitable education for their children. Pandemic schooling parents had no choice but to follow their child's school's requirements. I have heard so many parents complain about the material, how it was delivered, the expectations on them and the pressure on their children during what has, when you really look at it, been the biggest anxiety inducing event in most of our lifetimes.
5. Lockdowns, restrictions and no socialising.
I feel like I weathered the lockdowns better than most, but still I struggled by the 3rd one. I was fed up with my kids missing out on museums, animal parks, playgrounds, meetings and playing with friends in person, our daily interactions, our weekly swim, grandparents, day trips, a holiday, just a change of scene! When you home ed you're constantly planning trips you're not sat at home all day, isolated, on a screen with lots of busywork. You're out there in the world enjoying the company, the interactions and the experiences.
Being locked down in our home is NOTHING like our usual days and, yes, I'll be honest, I do resent the implication when parents are moaning about home schooling, that their experience accurately reflects how us home educators usually live our lives. So if you have stumbled on this page and have found yourself pandemic schooling please do know that it bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to everyday home education and that if you chose to, you could home educate without the tears and stresses because you would fit the education to yourself, your family circumstances and your children, and you would ace it!
This feels like an opportunity to reflect on what we think of as an education. What do we really need to know? What should our children learn and how should they be taught it? For some this will always be a traditional school, for others it's a chance to try home education in it's true form yet for others it's somewhere in between - a progressive or alternative school (such as Galileo) or flexi-schooling.
Whatever route you go down though, please don't come away from this experience with a negative view of home education, because, what every parent has had to go through with pandemic schooling, is honestly a very different beast to the usual home education route. Chat to any home educating family and you'll get a much more balanced view I promise!