Here we go again! Parents and kids across Ireland are, once again, homeschooling. It fills all of our hearts with varying levels of dread as we try to find the balance between work, school, and home life once again.
However, instead of being filled with dread, I think there are some positives this time around that weren’t there last year.
One is, unlike in the spring of last year, we do have a loose deadline in front of us. At the moment schools are due to return at the end of the month; however many people are speculating realistically classes will be back in session after the mid-term in February. This may seem long but I really feel if we survived four months of homeschooling in 2020 we can get through this.
The second positive is we have a much better idea of what we are doing as parents, and children have a clearer idea of what it all means too. Many people would have put some structure in place, to the best of their ability, to get through the day of working from home and homeschooling. In other words, if something worked for you the first time around do it again this time!
Accepting that these are unprecedented times, I think, goes a long way to helping our mental health. And as long as our children are happy and healthy we are doing a good job. Of course, in the case of older kids and secondary school students it is more complex and I appreciate this. There are definitely workloads that need to be addressed in order for them to feel confident about their future education.
The third positive is I feel parents in general feel that they have a bit more control this time around. By that I mean based on conversations with friends and listeners to my show, parents feel much more confident in picking and choosing how to educate their kids at home. They know what is realistic for their own individual circumstances and will work within that framework.
For me, it is much easier with one child who is able to work relatively independently than it is for a household with children in 1st, 3rd, and 5th class.
Adding to this sense of control, many parents of younger kids I have spoken to have said that they are not going to put pressure on themselves or risk daily fights to get through homeschooling. Instead, they are going to pick and choose from the workload and do it on days that suit them best.
I think another thing that we can all do is approach homeschooling one day at a time. Like all things in life, some days are going to be much better than others. In the spring when I was home all the time with my daughter Joan there were many days homeschooling was abandoned for both our sakes and replaced with a hike or some baking.
Then there were other days where we would sit down at the table and after nearly two solid hours look up at the clock and realise we had completed lots without a single fight.
In short, I really believe our kids are going to be okay. We don’t know how, long-term, this is going to affect anyone, so at the moment all we can do is keep them happy and healthy. Nurture their social worlds, encourage their imagination, and have as many good days as we can.