Empowers Equips Educates
When I think of 2020, I am reminded of the opening line ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ in Charles Dickens’ book A tale of two cities. 2020 has been the year when what was planned became irrelevant and what was unplanned suddenly became very relevant.
Home-schooling has and continues to be a fantastically terrifying journey. Our personal home-schooling journey can be divided into three stages: disbelief, acceptance and exploration.
Stage 1 Disbelief
‘I can’t believe that the schools are closed!’ echoed every family member, for quite different reasons. Our eldest: concerned that she will not see her friends; our middle one: excited about the prospect of not waking up early; and our last: confused as to why his siblings were taking up space during the times where he previously had independent reign over all areas of the house. Then there were us, the supposed adults, the parents, who all of a sudden had an unexpected job added to our portfolio … juggling working from home and educating the children. During this stage, we convinced ourselves that it was December holidays version 2.0 and that would be over in 21 days. When this did not happen, we entered stage 2: acceptance.
Stage 2 Acceptance
In this stage, we decided to be the responsible parents and implement some sort of education system in the house. We embraced the school-by-Zoom-call and logged the children into their sessions as we simultaneously tried to work from home. We quickly discovered that the children wanted us to be present during their Zoom calls, as they were struggling to grasp what it all meant to now only see their teacher on a screen. When we realised that we needed to come up with a new home-schooling strategy (as it seemed that we were going to be breathing other’s carbon dioxide for a while) we entered the next phase: exploration.
Stage 3 Exploration
I downloaded, printed and bound educational resources from the Department of Education website, scribbled down a structure of how we were going to do it, and dived head first into fully home-schooling our children. We were all excited and could not wait for this new adventure!
Enter reality. The first day felt like I had been run over by a train: ‘Whose children are these?’ They could not sit still, and they were yawning! I immediately felt like giving up because I can teach other people’s children but with my own, this seemed impossible. I then realised that I was trying to force traditional methods into a completely new setting. The children did not know me as Mrs Mabuto, they knew me as mum, and it was mum who had to show up for them. Over the next few days, I tried different teaching methods with each child (as they are different) and with time we got into the swing of things. One thing we quickly learnt is that an important part of learning is teaching, so we have incorporated a weekly creation of YouTube explainer videos by the children for other home-schooled children. The kids love it!
Home-schooling, one of many great un-expectations of 2020!
- Be patient with yourself and the children. It is a process.
- Be flexible about the methods that you use. That unscheduled work call will come, and the children need to understand that it is part of it.
- Reflect on the day with the kids and be brave enough to ask them for feedback.
- Have fun! Remember, school includes life skills and physical activities.
- Take turns. Draw up a roster on who is responsible on which days to home-school the kids. That way you can schedule in a bit of me time.
- Link up with others that are home-schooling to get ideas.