It’s been challenge after challenge for parents during lockdown, from having to become Zoom experts to having the kids at home 24/7. Adjusting to the ‘new-normal’ has been one of the most challenging parts of this year for everyone, and for parents, home-schooling has been a unique learning experience all around. We recently spoke to British primary school teacher and mum of two Becky Hayes, who gave us an insight into her experience.
This is a mum’s story of gratitude for the time spent home–schooling her children in 2020 and the opportunity she had to get to know them in a new way.
Going from being a parent to a teacher can be tricky but, luckily, Becky already had plenty of experience under her belt.
’Being a primary school teacher myself, I knew that the role of ‘mum’ one minute and ‘teacher’ the next could prove to be tricky. I expected there to be times when the children didn’t want to do work – I was absolutely correct!’ Becky explained that the unexpected nature of this new venture was almost the hardest part of the task: ‘at first, I had no expectations of what home schooling would be like as the whole situation was thrust upon us so quickly and it took a while to sink in.’
‘I have two children; one aged 10yrs and one aged 12yrs so the first obstacle to overcome was the fact that one is in primary school and one is in secondary school. The work that they got sent and how it was sent was completely different.’
Juggling parenting and teaching takes organisation even when the kids are heading into school each day, but the best way that Becky found to succeed with school at home was to set a new routine. ‘Once we discovered how to access everything, I set a timetable that I thought would be manageable. For example, we started off every day at 9am with some form of exercise. Then they set about their different lessons.’ Home-school with two children at the same time made the task a bit overwhelming: ‘At times, it was tricky as they both needed support with certain subjects. Often, I had to sit with one and then the other. It was a little frustrating at times.’
‘The most important thing that I learned during home-schooling was the amount of patience that was needed to help the children achieve. This wasn’t a normal situation for them either and it was understandable that they would get frustrated with the work at times.’
Becky adapted to the unique opportunity that being at home presented, and took the opportunity for the children to learn from the ‘school of life’, making the most of day to day tasks to learn necessary life skills. ‘If I was to go back to the start, I would probably encourage them to do some more practical tasks as well as the work they had been sent. My daughter and I did lots of baking and crafts together, and I would have loved to have expanded these ideas and put more emphasis on them as a family.’
There is no doubt that some children benefit most from traditional in-classroom teaching methods. But after seeing a noticeable positive shift in her daughter’s learning, Becky realised the benefits she was getting from learning at home. ‘My daughter will sit quietly in her classroom of 30 and will not often answer questions or speak. She is the one that is asked to answer a question when she is not actually comfortable doing so. I feel like the period of time that she spent at home encouraged her to be more independent, and also less pressured to ‘keep up’ with everyone else. As the time went on, I could see her confidence grow, especially in maths.’
Having children at different schools, Becky was able to see how different institutions and teachers handled remote teaching differently. ‘My daughter received lots of work from day one. She was set up in an online learning platform and, although some of the work was difficult, she soon got into a routine. She received a couple of phone calls from her teachers and was able to easily contact them. My son goes to primary school and was set a bit of work through an online platform, and then directed to a website that held various lessons. He got one phone call from a teacher and was unable to contact them at other times. He very quickly got bored with the online lessons, and the work he was set online was very repetitive.’
Despite the challenges that parents, children and teachers have all faced during these times, there seems to be positive feedback overall. It taught everyone a lot about alternative methods of teaching and prepared this generation of children for the possibility of remote learning and working in the future.
Becky’s final verdict is a positive one, ‘overall I enjoyed home-schooling and feel like this time was precious. I loved having them at home and felt like it was time that I will treasure and never forget.’
What are you grateful for? Say thank you the best way we know how, by sharing your story on sharegratitude.com