When schools were closed in March I had a mild panic over the things we didn’t have to facilitate their journey at home.
We didn’t have a printer, we had lots of broken pencils but no full ones, I wasn’t sure if we had a pencil sharpener and I knew that the boys had steamed through all the paper that we had having a paper aeroplane making contest.
All the necessary were purchased, the dining table was turned into homeschool central and we began our journey into lockdown school.
At this point I feel it’s important to note the difference between lockdown school and home education. What we’ve been doing since March is school in the loosest sense of the word. Home education is filled with using opportunities all around you to learn, socialising with others, visiting places.
Lockdown school has been school, in lockdown, in your house, without the most important element of school/home education: SOCIALISATION!
The hidden cost of “home school”
Not just the buying of printers, paper, glue, glitter glue, paint, crayons, sellotape, and, of course we cannot forget, the constant refilling of printer cartridges when printing off the ten thousandth worksheet from twinkl that day. Or the colouring sheet from Miraculous. You know, whatever gets them sat down calmly.
But the impact that this new routine is having on children, on parents, on siblings. The demands that this places on you all.
It is not a normal time.
And in my house, that is certainly starting to show.
Each day I am having to divide my time between three children, all at very different stages of education. From the baby who is learning how to walk, talk and play to my seven year old who is finishing up KS1 getting ready to go into junior school.
It is taking a toll on their mental health
And truth be told on MY mental health.
While we are in the lucky enough position that not much has changed for us financially (yet) and we have been able to absorb the cost of lockdown school. Sure, we’ve been careful shopping round for bargains, ensuring that we refill cartridges where we can rather than just replacing, getting those special offers, Amazon Prime deliveries. It just is not the same as school.
We have been floundering.
Like a fish out of water.
From our well oiled machine of up, breakfast, dressed, out the door, GO GO GO! Drop them at school, back to spend the morning with the baby, pick them up and whizz round seventy billion extra curriculars.
To, well, nothing.
Those first few days meant a massive nose dive in energy. No need to get dressed. No need to rush round for school.
And most importantly for my five year old, not going to actual school meant that he never seemed to get the “I HATE SCHOOL” funk out of his system by seeing his friends and the routine of the school setting.
Their world was turned upside down overnight. As was mine.
I went from being Mummy, the fun one, the one who printed off colouring sheets when they begged, that took them on bike rides, baked cookies with them. To the Mummy who shouted at them, asked if they had ants in their pants, made them sit and write (and my five year old HATES to write), do English.
And none of it was fun.
As the weeks have ticked on I have swung from being gung-ho on the work set by school, making a school routine, to winging it and making it more like the home school I imagined. And yet I am still to find the right rhythm. We have had fantastic home school Harry Potter days and terrible lethargic meltdown days.
With summer holidays looming it looks less and less likely that I’ll find that elusive rhythm.
But you know what.
That’s OK. The hidden cost of lockdown school isn’t the financial burden, or the educational impact. It’s the mental health of my children.
And as long as they come out the other side, happy, healthy, loved and not fearful of going near others, or germs, or getting sick as the world slowly reduces social distancing measures then I’d say we’ve done an ok job.
In the meantime – I’ll be here, refilling my printer once again to print off yet another worksheet, mindful colouring page, wordsearch, cinema ticket, popcorn bag, craft……….