Why I gave up on home schooling for a week
Two weeks ago I cracked. My son cracked. We were broken. Something had to give. I simply didn’t want any more tears (from him or me). The day I told him that school would open up (in regional) but he would return on separate days to his older brother and they would not overlap, it was all too much for him. He took himself to bed at 7pm and cried himself to sleep. This is not normal behaviour. So I gave up on home schooling for the next week.
No more. Nothing is worth that level of stress and anxiety to a 9 year old. I jumped online and booked a cabin at a regional Big 4 holiday park, and gave my kids five days to be kids. To run, to jump, to play, to swim, to watch movies, to ride go carts, to see grandparents for the first time in over 10 months (who were also regional so totally playing by Covid rules) and to have me being present. Actually present in mind and not just in body.
As we now face schools fully opening up this Friday, I have wanted to reflect on our home schooling / remote learning journey. To be honest, I thought I would ace this. I would be awesome. I teach adults for a living in our coaching sessions. I mean how hard could it be to teach kids? My own kids.
“Seriously, was I on drugs? Deluded? No idea, but clearly I was just on another planet as I am not sure I have succeeded at any part of home schooling.”
Even though we have been doing home schooling on and off for 18 months, one would think this would become easier. But in fact, truth be told, it only gets harder. My 9 year old has never spent so much time in front of a computer. He has had to grow up quicker than we had hoped, half the time on his own as both my husband and I try to hold down our respective jobs and businesses. The kids have had to learn things that normally they would learn in a group (peer support). They would be building on social skills and not just education skills, and they have missed so much of that.
There have been times when the guilt was overwhelming for me as the children are left to try and navigate tasks they have never done before with very little guidance. Yes, I feel that our home schooling experience was not remote learning as a lot of the tasks were simply not guided by the teacher or the school. In fact, early on many tasks were given to the children with the comments “get your parents to ….”. Now with two full time working parents, expecting me to sit down and do hours of home schooling plus keep my own shit together…well you don’t need to be Einstein to work out there simply is not enough hours in the day.
Should I spend the hours helping my kids, but then my business suffers? Do I spend the time helping our devastated clients and our kids suffer? Was there a happy medium? Not for me. I don’t even want to think of how many days I tried to please everyone staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning just to “try to get it all done”. When in fact I probably wasn’t even scratching the surface on any of it.
Sure, I should have just clocked off at 5pm, but then so many clients will be left devastated without support and my kids would also be left with half of their tasks not done. So who wins in that scenario? For 18 months (and I expect it to continue for another few months to come) clients are financially and emotionally devastated. In my gut I just can’t ignore them when they call me.
But at the same time, I am not a full time primary school teacher. And my kids mental health needs to be a high priority.
“So did I make the right decision to “give up” on home schooling for a week? You bloody bet I did.”
When I told the kids that I booked a cabin at a Big 4 and we were going away for a few days break, the smiles, the relief, the joy. It was instant. It was obvious.
The kids spent hours outside each day. Toughest decision was how would they possible fit the jumping pillow, playground, flying fox, indoor pool, go karts, afternoon movie, night time movie and play ground all in the one day. I mean what a bloody awesome problem to have.
I have noticed since coming home they are now wanting to spend more time outside, they are asking to go for walks, they are playing soccer/hockey/basketball in the backyard, they are talking nicer to each other and we are playing board games instead of turning to a tech device for instant satisfaction (I am going to admit, there is still plenty of device action, but nowhere near as much as before). My 9 year old was sleep walking constantly for the last 6 weeks, and since we have been away, it hasn’t happened once.
So whilst I have heard fantastic stories from some teachers and some parents, remote learning is not for us. It was breaking my kids. It was breaking me. And things are just not meant to be broken.