Day by Day, Home ed ponderings

Mothering in uncertain times – Mothers’ Day March 22 2020

The sky is blue today, the sun feels warm on my face and the world is springing into new life with all the exuberance we expect at this time of year. From our front porch I can see a steady stream of people out walking or cycling. It’s hard to imagine that we are in the grip of the only global pandemic in my lifetime.

And indeed I’ve woken early the last couple of mornings, my mind racing as to what the day ahead will hold. I’ve battled with fear and anxiety…we are living through a time of great uncertainty; so much of what we generally rely upon is being shaken to the core. I wonder if at the other end of this, those things which are of real value and worth will remain, and much else will have crumbled.

My HWH (hard working husband) is especially hard working at the moment as he is an NHS worker. As yet, still without adequate protective gear which means he is not only highly at risk of getting the virus himself, but also of passing it on to us and his patients. (do stay away from GP practices if at all possible at this time). He has however, foreseen what is coming and so we’ve had slightly longer to pray and prepare.

I want to live though this season as best I can. We are all in unchartered waters. Even for those of us who already home educate, we’ve never done so during a global pandemic. I certainly need encouragement and some steadying voices, and as I write (partly at the moment to help me process all this) I trust I may be able to pass some of this on. There are no experts in this; we all need to journey through this as best we can.

School closure is going to look different for each family with varying ages of children, immediate family members who are especially vulnerable, parents trying to juggle working from home, going out to work, supporting a key worker, being a key worker,financial challenges, a child with additional needs. Add into that different personalities and a larger dose of underlying anxiety in most cases, and I sense the most helpful focus for these three weeks up until Easter is to adjust to this new normal. While I feel a bit hesitant in offering advice about teaching kids at home, a few people have asked, so here some thoughts to start the week…(I’ll pop a some thoughts down for teens next time….Rhythm Dude is already missing contact with friends as well as the vast amount of sports he does….help!!!)

– I find establishing a rhythm to our days is essential; perhaps even more so now as routine gives us some certainty.

– Maybe have a cosy read aloud session sometime during the day. Libraries are closed, so we’ll have to trawl through our existing bookshelves. We sit on the sofa, in bed, at the table while the kids colour, on the floor while they play with Lego, outside on a picnic mat…the possibilities are endless, and some snacks alongside are good too!

– Think of some fun things to do which you’ll enjoy too. I find that at times of pressure I have less patience so tackling algebra is best not done then!

– Try to get outside every day. The weather is set to be fine, so we’ll walk and cycle (getting together for team sports not allowed at the moment)

– Within the current shopping restraints, I’ll try to come up with some good comfort food and some yummy treats (I wonder if ice cream is available?)

– We’ve always had a “quiet time” after lunch when the kids go to their own rooms and read, listen to audio books, play with Lego, sylvanians etc. This is my sanity time…I pray and read and drink tea and eat chocolate!

If you feel it would be best for your kids to keep up some more structured work, there are plenty of worksheets on line, is a site I use. As it’s all such a change for everyone my instinct would be to keep this pretty low key until after Easter…

– I use “copy work” and “narration” to teach English skills. Choose a sentence or two from a book they enjoy (maybe one you’ve read that morning) and ask your child to copy it out. Then, depending on their age: ask questions about the story/text, ask them to verbally summarise it, ask them to write a summary.

– I bought several packs of cornflour from Lidl (oddly, it was about the only thing there were several packs of!), to hand out to friends (if that’s allowed). If you mix it with water it makes a fantastic “gloop”. Easy, great for sensory seeking kids and all round good stress reliever. This will keep our girls happy for ages. You could take it outside to minimise the mess!

– I often find we simply follow through on something we’ve read in the morning…looking up a place or animal etc that’s mentioned in a story and go from there. Like a meandering journey on a country road with lots of stops rather than a fast paced motorway.

I’m praying we can redeem this unexpected time we have; make something good within such a dreadful situation. Home ed in our experience is messy…we never have a “perfect day”. But it is rich in relationships, in time and in learning for the sheer interest and fun that learning brings.

On this most unusual of Mother’s’ days, please be encouraged. I honestly think you’re amazing; To be able to adapt to teaching your kids at home with a few days’ notice, or for those who already do so, to try to keep some normality going within such a difficult time.

Our world needs strong mums, to raise up the foundations of the next generation. Together we can do this.

Many Mother’s’ Day blessings to you.

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