Wednesday, 10 February 2021

MIND // Remote Learning & Us

Happy New Year everyone! It is still quite alright to be saying that and spreading good wishes to all.

Like most, our new year has started in an unusual way; homeschooling, or rather, remote learning has taken over our lives and I am OK with it. Actually, when I dropped the kids off on the first day of term after the school holidays, I had decided to take them back out of school and keep them at home for a bit longer. I was quite happy to home educate again on my own terms. However that very evening it was announced that there was a national lockdown again and it turns out the whole school, like most, were learning from home again. This was no shock to us as I had already decided to go solo for a bit and in a way I'd had the chance to prepare myself meaning that by Tuesday morning we were starting a new routine with confidence.

That original feeling of euphoria for a different way of life for a bit dwindled as school, and rightly so, have prepared a thorough routine for remote learning which we are trying to stick to. Unlike the first lock down when we were all just bobbing along, this experience is not home education like before. I picked what we learnt and we embraced a different way of education and that was great. This time round schools are more prepared and have programmes of study for every day and every subject. Great. So many parents need that help, that ease of logging a child onto the computer so they can try as independently as possible to do their work. With more people than last time having no choice of furlough or even working from home, parents really need this kind of help from their schools; it all laid out for them, a way that children can access education remotely. And that is key, our school now call this 'remote learning' because that is what it is. This isn't home ed anymore, in fact this is really far removed from what home education is and I think it is a really good thing to recognise to help relieve the pressure of teaching your children at home. Home education is so much more that this. Home education is more wholesome than this. This, what most of us are probably experiencing is remote learning and that is a way to try to keep all children at a similar level so that when they are back in schools there is some kind of consistency.

When you realise that this isn't a mark of how you are teaching, this is actually just for the children so you can breath a big sigh of relief. It is much harder in my opinion; a lot of screen time and little creative work, but for me, that is where I have a strength and can pick up any activities for us to enjoy ourselves.

I have noticed that our two are really tired. I couldn't work it out until today but it is an effect of intense learning on a screen every day. They can cope but to put it in perspective, since Raph was born he has always woken between 6.30 and 6.45. He stays in his bed until 7 then comes and wakes us up. Today he slept until 7.30, that's nearly a hour longer. First time ever and we are at home, no real stress. It's sometime really hard to see the changes but don't be shocked if the kids seem over tired. They are learning in a completely different way and that is exhausting. 

For us, I am making sure to drag them out for a 2 mile walk before we start anything on a morning. I have always found interest in the connection between activity and brain function with regards to learning. Lots of studies show that is I child moves before learning their brain is more responsive. The difference is real. Even starting the walk they are sluggish and unwilling but by the end of every walk we have had an in depth conversation about something (usually owning a dog in Etta's case and buying a van in Raph's.) My point is just that bit of something opens all our brains, starts us off on a better foot and means that if the day feels a bit pants after that, we know we got a bit of exercise and gave ourselves the best start that we could.

I want to just finish off by telling you about how this experience is an opportunity not to be missed. Already I know that even though these days seem hard and tiring, in a years time, maybe 10 years time your kids will still remember it and still talk about it. We are living in a moment in history right now. Everything that is happening will be recorded and used in the future, maybe 100 years from now and we want our kids to tell stories about it to their kids. And yes that might be "do you remember when mum was the most stressed ever", and we will be able to laugh about it (eventually) so what I want you to know is, even though getting out of bed may feel hard right now, in the not too distant future things will change again and this will become a memory, good and bad, that will have a place in your life.

Stay positive if you can, it is also fine to feel completely down too, but either way, reach out to others, support family or friends, do not fill your head with the news, (it won't bring you any comfort) and take each day as an opportunity to just try and live well with small pockets of joy and a whole heap of thanks that you are still here, still striving and still hoping for the time when we can see each other freely again.


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