2. Work/Home – Experiences of homeschooling

Fronted adverbials rule
The pandemic brought significant increases to my workload at the same time as increasing caring responsibilities with two children at home all the time and home-schooling.  I did end up bearing the majority of the home-schooling burden, but I am not sure if that was a gender issue. My husband and I have always shared domestic and childcare duties. I had more patience than him with teaching our children and they responded better with me. We didn’t have the time or energy to fight this and didn’t want to be continually arguing with the kids. It took us some time to realise that this wasn’t unsurprising, I have after all been trained and worked in education for over twenty years, it was no wonder that it came more naturally to me. I actually really enjoyed the home-schooling, when I could focus and give it my full attention. I even learnt alongside the kids. But finding the time was tricky, and the guilt was almost unbearable – having to turn one of the kids away when they needed help because I had to be in a work call. Not being able to do the optional learning tasks due to lack of time, when they looked like the more fun and creative activities compared to figuring out fronted adverbials and number bonds. #1

Teaching my students, neglecting my kids
At first we tried our best to do it.  My son was in the first year of A levels and my other son was seven at the start of lockdown so primary school. It wasn’t working, it was causing arguments so I was thinking – this is going to be a two week period, do you know what, let’s just give the kids two weeks off, it doesn’t really matter, they’re not failing at school, it’s fine. As time went on I was like right oh, okay, you know, you’re missing out here so we had to change our tactic. My 17 year old continued online learning for his A levels so was in his room a lot, and I just felt I couldn’t do all the creative fun things all the other mums of Facebook seemed to be doing. I felt like I was teaching my students and neglecting my kids and that was a bit of an injustice.  My students were getting me and my kids weren’t.  #8

Emotionally, homeschooling was horrendous
During the first period of school closures, we made only the briefest of attempts at formal homeschooling. I got quite excited initially, gathering additional craft materials and stationery in the couple of days before everything locked down, and compiling lots of website links and YouTube recommendations for educational at-home activities. But any engagement with these were short lived, and my kids soon went pretty much feral. They had a great time during that spring and summer period, and didn’t seem at all negatively affected by the experience. I guess I kind of prided myself on our laid-back approach.  When schools closed for the second time, we did things very differently and it was a totally different experience. This time I really felt we needed to try and keep up with the schoolwork. I think it was partly because all three of them were now in school, and school was laying on a full timetable of online lessons and follow-up work, so it would be much more likely that they would ‘fall behind’ if we didn’t do anything this time. So this time we did have the timetable on the wall, resources set out in the dining room, a ‘charging station’ for all of their laptops to be plugged in between sessions. Emotionally, homeschooling was horrendous. I did my absolute best to keep up with the timetable, but between all three of them, we had 8-12 zoom sessions per day, often overlapping, and I was literally running from room to room like a headless chicken, trying to get them all logged on at the right time, and then supported to stick with it through the session. School was really supportive, but essentially it was horrible. I kind of feel myself getting upset reflecting on it now.  #22