Home schooling Day 1: Doubts and insecurities

Our morning started with whoops and cheers and high 5’s. I was optimistic. I believed I was well prepared.

I was well prepared. Just not well enough.

I had prepared activities and timetables, tasks and places to work but I had neglected to prepare myself fully for what lay ahead.

Our first activity was PE with Joe Wicks – that’s where the whoops and cheers came in. If you’re not already making use of Joe’s PE lessons, I’d definitely recommend adding these to your homeschooling routine. My kids loved it!

My first involvement with the teaching process came when we started “creating our classroom” (more on why we’re doing that in my podcast, out later this week). We covered the kitchen table with a rainbow table cloth, chose a class name (Paddington) and made class posters to put up on the walls. Again there was laughter and high spirits and my optimism remained. As far as I could tell, we were nailing this home schooling malarkey.

It was when the actual work started that things went downhill. Fast.

Our first real lesson started at 11.30am. By noon, school was done for the day! My optimism was gone and in its place was crippling doubt and insecurity. I had neither the skills nor the patience to help either of my children.

My son is learning to write but his progress is slower than his peers. My daughter is in year 6 and struggles to focus,  which means she retains little of what she’s taught.

Both of my children are adopted and there is some evidence to suggest that early life trauma has a significant impact on brain development. This is one of the reasons I’ve actually been curious about home schooling in the past – I wondered if a more tailored approach to their learning would serve them better. So in the lead up to home schooling, despite the challenges I knew lay ahead, I was quite excited about the chance to offer them a unique and tailored education experience that might help them thrive.

Yet, when my son was unable to complete even the most basic instructions, I was a rabbit in the headlights. I had no idea how to help, what to say, what to show him or what to do. I’ve spent the last 3 and a half years learning how to be his mum. It hadn’t occurred to me that being his teacher would require a completely different set of skills.

I was pretty sure I would do better with my daughter though. She’s older and giving her autonomy is much easier so I thought I’d be able to set up schooling in a child-led way and do all the funky, cool things I’d read about for home schooling. As I imagined it, we’d end up more connected and she’d sail through her school work. It was going to be amazing!

Nope. The same thing happened. It turned out my knowledge was outdated and flawed, her knowledge was so patchy it barely held together and neither of us had a good enough handle on the material to make any real use of it. I also asked too much of her by giving her the opportunity to lead things. That’s not what she’s used to at all and she was trying so hard to make “the right choice” that she buckled under the pressure.

With both of them, I felt completely stuck. Suddenly paralysed by the magnitude of my inability. In the few years we’ve been together, my focus has always been on nourishing the relationship and connection between us and it suddenly hit me that if things carry on this way, I might not only dent their academic possibilities, I could actually undo the progress we’ve made as a family.

Of course, if either of them accepted defeat this early on in their efforts, I would encourage them to get back up and figure out how to take the next step. So now I must show them that I have to – and can – do the same.

The best way I can think of to look at this is to recognise that I now know more than I did yesterday. I have a better understanding of the challenges facing all of us and with that information I can come back and have another go.

Bring on Day 2!

How was your first day of home schooling?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

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