Same same but different? Is Covid-schooling (ie: schooling at home during a Covid lockdown) the same as homeschooling?
In short....no. I don't think it really is. Let me explain why.
(This photo was taken several years ago at our beautiful Japanese Gardens. We had been having a tough morning at home, so took our lesson and paint supplies out for fresh inspiration. We miss having the freedom to do things like this now. We know the time will come again and we look forward to that and in the meantime, are thankful for past memories like this one).
When we decided to homeschool our kiddos, we researched it, reading about it and preparing for it in the best ways we could. Of course once we started, it was completely different to how we thought it would be but we had time (YEARS!) to adjust and to grow together (truth be told, we are ALWAYS adjusting!).
This is NOT how it has been for many of my beautiful friends who have found themselves in a state of high-anxiety trying to balance 'schooling at home' with 'working from home' and often 'child-caring' from home too. I really feel for them especially when they tell me they 'hate homeschooling' and insist that they don't know how I've done it for so long.
My response is that the homeschooling I know is very different to the one they've been forced into.
HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT REALLY SCHOOLING AT HOME
I mean, for some homeschoolers it might be but for the vast majority of people I know, homeschooling looks very different to school. We are not trying to emulate school nor does the NESA homeschooling unit expect us to. Yes we are taking responsibility for our children's education but the ways in which we do that can vary greatly from the way a school approaches it. We assess our children's learning to make sure they are indeed progressing but we don't have to examine them in the same way as a school does. We are not limited to the scope and sequence set out for a grade and have learned that there is a continuum of learning which all of us (adults included) walk along as we grow. We are able to facilitate learning in a way that honours the individual child's learning styles and really help them in areas they might be having trouble with.
WE ARE ABLE TO DEVELOP OUR OWN RHYTHMS
Over time, we have developed rhythms of learning around our life that has made homeschooling sustainable. We have found shortcuts for meals and cooking, we share the load of chores and home responsibilities so that the house remains maintained and the load doesn't fall to one person. We have taken time to work through and iron out issues with attitudes about contributing. And lest you think it's always peachy around here - I assure you it is not BUT we get to work through that over time too. We have had time to develop rhythms around celebration, time-out and self-care. We've had time to see that the homeschooling life is more than just about academia.
WE HAVE ACCUMULATED LEARNING RESOURCES
We have cupboards full of games, puzzles, science kits, maths manipulatives, inspiring art supplies, kid-friendly recipes and bookshelves heavy with books of all different subjects. Again, this has taken many years to acquire. And because we have so many learning resources scattered around our home, it really makes natural learning so much easier. If they are baking, they are learning. If they are drawing, they are learning. Reading? Learning. Watching something? Learning. Playing something? Learning. And they aren't just learning about the content in that book or the rules of that game. They are learning things like how to cooperate well (or not which turns into a life lesson on conflict resolution), how to self regulate, how to occupy themselves when they are bored (and yes I hear the "I'm bored!' statements here too although there are less of those)....there are so many deeper lessons to be had when they become engaged, interested and invested in their own learning.
HOMESCHOOLING IS ACTUALLY MORE LIKE OUT-OF-HOME-SCHOOLING
Instead of being based at home, a lot of learning happens outside of it! We learn by being with others, we learn when we play sport and when we take classes, when we do community volunteer work, when we learn an instrument, when we go swimming in the local river, when we visit our local library/museum/gallery etc....there is so much learning that happens IN our home but there is probably an equal amount that happens OUTSIDE of its walls. Of course this means that we REALLY feel the restrictions of lockdown like everyone else does. It means that for families who are really used to being in their communities, to have that option removed is a challenge to say the least.
WE ARE NOT HAVING TO JUGGLE ALL THE ONLINE PLATFORMS
Some of us choose to use online platforms and others choose none at all. It really comes down to preference. A friend of mine whose children normally attend school, recently shared that for her 3 children who are now covid-schooling, she had something like 15 different passwords, log ins and emails across various platforms and schools. Of course this is necessary but hard to do when you are also juggling your own work deadlines and other unusual things that this season of lockdown has brought us. You are all doing an amazing job in this challenging time.
WE HAVE THE FREEDOM TO JUMP ACROSS CONCEPTS
Some teachers and schools do have the ability to jump across concepts too and that is so great! I know it largely depends on the school and how much freedom the teacher is allowed to have to do this but I know that there are many amazing teachers out there who want to do this and can't. I hope this goes without saying but please know, I am NOT anti-school!
I have major respect for my teacher-mates and this post is about saying PLEASE GO EASY ON YOURSELVES rather than thinking this covid-schooling is how we homeschool. And if you are a homeschooler stuck a home (even though of course it is the right thing to do right now, know that we are ALL struggling with being stationary!)
WHAT CAN WE ALL DO RIGHT NOW TO MAKE LIFE A LITTLE EASIER?
1. WORK OUT YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLE 'MUST DO'S'
If you have to be on a Zoom call for work every morning at 10am, let the kids know that this is the time you'll need to be uninterrupted (if possible. I know, I know, easier said than done but during the preparation time, talk about a treat that you can do together once that is over. Agree on it and make sure it is possible to achieve it.) What are the kids' must do's? If they have to log onto a school chat, then do your best to make that happen for them. If you can, plan dinner ahead. Get out your slow cooker if you have one and use it. Let me know if you'd like me to share some easy slow cooker recipes with you and I will. That one gadget has been a life saver for me.
Try and pencil in some time out/away (like a walk around the block on your own if you can or lighting a candle in your room with the door closed for 5 mins). I know it's hard. Right now, I'm unable to leave my home to walk due to my heart condition so I have to settle for walking around my backyard, sitting in my favourite chair outside or doing some reading. Just having something for me is important and it's important for your kiddos to have something for themselves too (for my kids that includes Minecraft time. For your kiddos it might be something else but try and honour their needs like you'd like yours honoured too).
2. CREATE A SIMPLE BUCKET LIST OF ACTIVITIES THAT YOU CAN DO TOGETHER IN LOCKDOWN
As simple as it sounds, getting the kids to explore on Google Earth by challenging them with 'see who can find the best looking rollercoaster in the world' or 'can you find something weird on a boat?' are fun ways to get them engaged in learning together even during lockdown.
What other kind of activities could you do? * Have a tent? Challenge the kids to set it up, air it out and then treat them to a camp fire in the backyard (if you have the set up like a fire pit) with some marshmallows to roast.
* Drawing and art tutorials.
* Online Museum tours.
* Recreate classical art poses.
* Create a lockdown time capsule with letters to your future selves.
* Do some science experiments.
* Bake some of your favourite recipes that you can then introduce your kiddos to.
* Download podcasts and audio books. Pour a cuppa and try and listen to a chapter or even just a little bit together. Let the kids have a snack or play with blocks while they listen. * Create a lockdown diary post each day/week.
* Create a maze or an obstacle course in the backyard.
* Do some rock painting. * Hold a scavenger hunt inside or outside at your place. * Create and write about a mini project.
* Write a letter to a friend. * Sit in your front or backyard and observe the birds or trees you can see. You can find my FREEBIE TEMPLATES HERE:.
3. CONNECTION AND RELATIONSHIP OVER ANYTHING ELSE RIGHT NOW
What ever you do, try and give grace to each other. Do what you can and try not to sweat the small stuff. Again, I know easier said than done.
If you are struggling, reach out. There are lots of places ready to help. Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 130 22 4636
Kids Helpline for kids struggling: 1800 55 1800
Headspace 24 hour line: 1800 650 890
Sending you so much love during this tricky time. I hope you stay as well as you can out there. Lusi x