Mona Whitton

Mona Whitton

Surviving Home Schooling

It’s Sunday and the fear is starting to set in. The calm I felt on Friday afternoon has dissipated and left, in its wake, a gaping hole of dread. Whilst the rest of the country has been placed in lockdown, I have found myself introducing my own set of lockdown rules at home.  No, we do not have COVID, nor are we considered high risk.  So why have I decided to restrict movement within my own house?  The answer… online schooling. 

Here is where I am. I have a very active 10-year-old who has the attention span of a gnat (this could be doing a disservice to gnats).  If he can be distracted he will be! Sheets are draped over pictures, all music/noise sources removed from the room, curtains are drawn in case someone decides to walk past the window, all in an effort to keep his attention focussed on the laptop. 

I have to admit that I can see where the confusion may lie, having spent the largest proportion of his life trying to keep him away from screens, I am now reversing the decision, to the extent that I am threatening to nail his butt to the chair in front of the computer.  This is primarily because he can’t sit still! I mean seriously CANNOT SIT STILL. The fridge is a constant draw, it’s like living with a swarm of locusts and that’s not the worst part. What goes in must come out and after the great toilet roll crises of 2020, this is not what I need. 

I can frequently be heard grilling him like an American cop in a bad 1950’s film;  ‘why are you out of the dining room if your lesson is still happening?’ ‘Do you need the toilet?’ ‘Do you need water?’  ‘Why didn’t you take your water bottle in with you?’ ‘Do you need help?’  ‘That is what the teacher is for’ and here is where the problem lies. The year six maths and English curriculum.

Now, let me give you a little background.  I am a secondary school teacher.  I have 10 GCSE’s, five A-Levels, a Masters with honors and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education.  Whilst I will never win teacher of the year, I have excellent classroom management, I have a creative and fun approach to learning, I create inspiring and engaging lessons, and have always been judged good to outstanding in the classroom.  But never, in all my years of teaching and education have I EVER been expected to know what a fronted adverbial is!  

Between the maths (when did ‘Sum of’ appear?) and English curriculum, I am a gibbering wreck!  Google is now starting to feel like part of the family, she certainly seems more able to support my son in his learning!  The familiar “Hey Google” can be heard ringing out down the hallway on a daily basis, often on repeat as she fails to recognise my strained and increasingly high pitched tone. 

Where Google fails we hit the family. Frantic Skype calls go out to my father in Lincolnshire.  “Da-ad, how do you divide fractions?” The reply “use a calculator” is not helpful. My Head of English has not been exempt from the odd call either. I start to doubt myself, I am a teacher for goodness sake, I am educating tomorrow’s leaders.

And so I find myself here, on a Sunday evening dreading the week to come, but I have made a decision.  We can only do what we can do.  We’ll complete the work set to the best of our knowledge and abilities, once we have finished we are done, no more worrying about what the other children in the class are up to.  The time left in the day will be spent going out for a bike ride (PE), assembling a go-cart (DT), making a birthday card for Granny and Gaga (Art), having fun playing a board game (wellbeing), baking a cake (Food Tech) and most of all enjoying the time we have together.  After all, I’ve managed for 44 years without knowing what a fronted adverbial is.  I’m pretty sure he’ll survive too!

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