Today was shit.
Assignments abandoned, lunch still in the kitchen sink, frustrated kids in their rooms, too afraid to come out and upset the dragon formally known as their mother. And me? Well, I’m outside. With a wine. Second wine of the day actually. And it’s 3 pm.
Today was our first day of home-based learning and let me tell you, it didn’t end well.
The school apps didn’t work properly. The assignments didn’t make sense. We couldn’t figure out how to upload a photo and I discovered I’m not the awesome teacher I thought I would be.
I’m a sweary, yelly, frustrated, “Seriously stop asking me how to spell words” kind of teacher.
I’m an “I’m on a call, don’t bug me,” “Eat whatever you want,” “This makes no fucking sense,” “It’s recess time, I’m locking the door and you’re staying outside for 30 minutes” kind of teacher.
I don’t have an inner nurturing voice and I don’t know what a complex sentence is and I sure as eff don’t know how to do multiple digit split strategy maths.
I discovered all of this today and, well, let’s just say, it was a huge wakeup call.
Why? Because this isn’t a one-time thing. Nope. This home-based learning is our life for now.
Five days a week, for five weeks (we’re in Queensland. I know this is different for every state). Sorry, but nope. Not happening. Something’s gotta give. Cause my kids deserve a better teacher than a wine-drinking dragon.
So, to all the mums doing home-based learning and feeling like they are failing, I see you. I feel you. I am you. And, as I am one day and two wines into homeschooling, I feel like I’m qualified to share these words of wisdom to help us get through this without damaging our kids and our livers.
We’re not failing.
It’s not possible to fail at something when there is no right way to do it. We’re all going into this blindly and there is really no benchmark to beat here. No one’s done this before. And trust me, no one knows what the hell they are doing.
Not parents, not the kids, not even the teachers.
Teachers didn’t plan to have to redo an entire term’s worth of work to make it online accessible. They most likely don’t enjoy spending weekends uploading assignments and making instructional video messages. And I’m pretty sure marking dodgy uploaded photos of pages out of their students’ home-based notebooks isn’t their first choice for grading.
This is new for everyone.
I sure as hell didn’t go into 2020 thinking that this year, not only will I need to work from home but I will also supervise two kids doing online learning. Nope. This was NOT on the vision board.
Yes, we’re frustrated, we’re busy and we don’t know how to do this home-based learning crap.
But our kids don’t know how to do it either.
The couch, where they normally chill out and watch TV, is now an area reserved for Mathletics lessons and a half-hour of silent reading.
The dining room table, where we play board games and eat meals, is now a desk, complete with pens, notepads, iPads, and laptops.
The trampoline and backyard is suddenly their makeshift school oval and listening to a dude with an English accent squat on YouTube suddenly passes as PE.
Their school friends aren’t here. Their teachers aren’t here and their regular school routine, well, that’s certainly not here.
Instead, it’s just me and them. Their normally happy mum is now overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated and yelling at them because they don’t know how to research the height and weight of Australian desert animals without her help.
And now here we are – they are in their rooms, dreading tomorrow. I am outside, making a plan in my head so that tomorrow doesn’t turn out like today.
Today I tried so hard to get through the assignments, to follow the schedule, and to prove to myself that I could do this, that I forgot the most important lesson – their happiness.
What matters most isn’t their lessons – it’s their wellbeing.
As hard as it is to balance being a mum, an employee, and a teacher, it’s even harder for our kids to come to terms with this new schooling system. They need us to be kind, to make them laugh, to offer support and encouragement, and to help them make this their new normal, for now.
It will happen. And it does get easier.
How do I know? Because I wrote this last week.
I’m in Queensland so home-based learning has been in action for a few days now. Nine days to be exact. And, it’s starting to get easier. The assignments (sort of) make sense, the kids are getting into a groove and we’ve made our own routine that works for us.
In between lessons they make cool models out of Lego and do times tables treasure hunts. I gave them a cardboard box the other day and they made a leprechaun catcher… just out of their own crazy minds. No lesson plan needed.
I’ve taught them how to cook four meals and unload the dishwasher. We’ve abandoned PE lessons for soccer games in the park, we do daily math Skype sessions with Nana who happens to be a retired teacher (and much more calming than me) and if an assignment is too confusing, we skip it. Simple.
Plus, I’ve finally discovered how to do split strategy multiplication! It’s stupid and way more time-consuming than the old method, but, it’s okay, cause I get it now.
And you’ll get it too. Maybe just not on the first day.
Good luck to all the mums doing the home-based learning thing and remember to join our Homeschooling Mums Australia group. If you ever need advice, homeschooling hints or simply to vent to other mums who are contemplating a wine at 3 pm, then Homeschooling Mums Australia is the place to be.