Homeschooling and social distancing: How we’re doing so far

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If I cast my mind back just seven days, I was lamenting the fact my kids’ school was closing indefinitely because of the Covid-19 threat. Over the past week I’ve been homeschooling and the closure itself seems like a lifetime ago. Here are a few observations I’ve made about the present situation as we homeschool in this era of social distancing.

social distancing, homeschooling, family homeschooling, family social distancing
Cuddly toys, computers and pencil cases amassed on the dining table. A scene replicated across the land as parents homeschool while socially distancing.

Daddy the IT consultant

By Wednesday I was describing myself as a “glorified IT consultant, without any of the glory” (see my IGTV video). I guessed that I’d have to deal with some IT issues as we settled into homeschooling and the kids would be doing daily online learning. It turns out I drastically underestimated how much IT support I’d have to provide.

From setting up computers and getting to grips with Google Classroom, I’ve had to do the lot. On top of that I’ve had to teach the kids how to message teachers and I’m constantly having to scan completed work to send it to teachers while also keeping on top of a regular stream of messages from teaching staff and parents. I’ll freely admit it gets a little overwhelming at times.

Praise for teachers

I am, quite rightly, seeing well deserved praise for NHS staff, retail staff, delivery drivers and so on. I can’t help feeling teachers have snuck under the radar without getting appropriate recognition.

I hear different things about different schools but my kids’ school has been brilliant. The teaching staff have shown such amazing commitment and provided amazing levels of support. It’s all very well me talking about homeschooling, but the reality is the lesson planning has all been done for me. I just have to oversee the work which is challenging, but it could be so much more difficult.

Household chores

By the end of the day on Monday, I could tell that I needed to reduce the housework burden as much as possible. The first job I identified as superfluous was ironing. We are, after all, social distancing and so appearances shouldn’t matter quite as much.

On Monday evening, at the end of our first day of this homeschooling adventure, I politely informed Mrs Adams that I would not be ironing any clothes for the next five and a half months. The look on Mrs Adams face suggested she didn’t agree with me. The look on my face, however, made clear it would be a bad idea to express such an opinion.

In fairness Mrs Adams, who has been working home now for almost three weeks, didn’t say a word. In fact her own actions proved that ironing would be unnecessary as she hasn’t changed out of her pajamas until late in the day on some occasions.

Going out to the shops is a big deal

By Wednesday we needed some grocery supplies so I headed off to Lidl. I decided this was a noteworthy occasion and put on aftershave.

It was a surreal shopping experience because the staff had marked out lines in tape on the floor at two metre intervals. It was like driving on a motorway and keeping two chevrons apart from the vehicle in front.

I was very surprised at the behaviour of the older shoppers. I couldn’t help noticing it was all the younger shoppers who were sticking fairly rigidly to the two-metre rule. It was the older shoppers were ignoring them and I was just a little bit shocked by this.

Relaxation of screen time rules

Never in my life did I think I would find myself telling my kids to spend more time using devices. In the present environment, when Helen and Izzy can’t physically meet up with friends, I find myself encouraging them to video call and message friends as much as is sensibly possible (albeit with stringent oversight, especially in Izzy’s case).

Mrs Adams and I have increased screen time allowances for this reason and I’m trying to get them to videocall at least one friend a day, more if possible. I am a bit worried about establishing the old rules when this is all over, but I have enough on my mind for now. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Welcome to the new normal

I appreciate this may be a very personal point of view, but as a family we’ve adjusted to the ‘new normal’ with incredible speed. Sure, there are bumps and issues not to mention small successes every day.

Even so, Helen, Izzy and I have fallen into a routine whereby they start the day with PE With Joe and then get on and do school work with regular breaks until two or three o’clock. Mrs Adams, meanwhile, spends most of her day on the phone so is locked away in what I usually consider my office.

It’s imperfect and it’s messy but it works. Ask me how things are going in July and I may have another point of view but for now, we’re just getting on with things.

And finally, keep the schools closed

Controversial opinion this may be, but I’d be reluctant to send the children back to school if they opened before September. I’m not so much thinking about Izzy who is in Year Two. I think she’d easily settle back into school. It would be the potential impact on Helen, her older sister, that would concern me. She’s in Year Six and the school closures mean her primary school years brutally ended last Friday.

While she’s missing her friends, her teachers and physically attending schooling, the past is the past. She’s looking to the future now and if the schools re-opened, I feel it would be a confusing and retrograde step for her. It means more work for me, but I think it’s right for her.

How are you doing?

Those are a few of my thoughts and observations. How are things in your household? Are you struggling with homeschooling and social distancing or are you enjoying the experience? One thing I’m very curious to know, has your family already accepted this as the new normal?

6 thoughts on “Homeschooling and social distancing: How we’re doing so far”

  1. Hi John, you seem to be coping well (you still appear to have hair) and really, who needs to iron? The creased look is a good look! I’ve not ironed a thing since the iron fell off the shelve in the earthquake we had in 2018 and ‘broke’ (it didn’t but don’t tell the husband)… My heart goes out to households with children it’s going to be a long few months, but on the positive side, at least homeschooling is an option that seems to be working for most right now. My sisters two have adapted quite well at learning at home and she appears to still have her hair too, so all is good… Greece enforced strict rules quite early on, which so far is working well. There was no panic buying (surprisingly) and the Greek people, not usually known for their patience and queuing are realising that social distancing is a good thing. Shopping is a pleasure now… As we are still in our winter season our lives haven’t been too affected at the moment, I still get to take the dogs for their walk in the hills every morning, so I’m happy, but the hiking group disbanded early this year, which was sad, but not the end of the world, we will walk together again!.. On a serious note though what the summer season will bring is a big concern right now as that effects what money is around to survive with next winter, that applies to the world over… Fingers crossed that by this time next year a vaccine has been created and this is all a distant nightmare.

    Stay safe and stay sane!


    1. Your secret about the iron is safe with me Debs! Very much hope your walking group gets back together. I’m also very impressed to hear there was no panic buying. The shops are back to a new normal over here now. They’re reasonably well stocked but everyone is having to stay two metres apart while going round the stories which is very, very odd. You are right, I have hair. For now!!

  2. We have definitely settled into a routine and that happened at a very fast pace. The girls have adjusted to this very surreal world very quickly.
    For me I’m having good moments and some not so good moments, but for the girls sakes and to keep normality I am keeping them in check.
    It’s a very scary situation and suppressing that we are all a little bit frightened is very difficult.
    Screen time has gone out the window but thankfully that means the girls just play on their Nintendo lites a bit more or watch a bit more DISNEY+ or Netflix.
    Housework is something I enjoy plus gardening so at the moment it’s getting a lot more, I’m sure that won’t last forever Haha!
    We have basically not left the house only Emily to get food.
    I have written a similar post oput on Monday about our first week and the changes we have made.
    Great read John you and your family stay safe!

    1. Hope your family stay safe too Nigel. I guess with your previous health issues you are probably a high risk group?

      These are very surreal times indeed. I am amazed how quickly we’ve all adjusted. The stress now is going to be keeping this up for another five months.

  3. You sound like you’re doing well (good call over the ironing). I’ve put chores on our timetable. It was my plan that I would do them but Freya begged to help so she did some simple jobs (dusting, sorting washing) and loved it. All in all we seem to be doing ok – although I realised on day 2 of home school that I was probably working her too hard (she put herself down for a nap at lunch which is unheard of). I chilled out a bit on day three. I’m very thankful that my job is only part-time but even that has been quite stressful (Mark is a key worker so still going in every day). I’m sure it will get easier once we settle more into routine. The hardest part for us is that we live in a top floor flat so getting fresh air has been difficult. Hope you all keep safe and well.

    1. Oh yes, living in a top floor flat will be more tricky for you. I hope we don’t go into an Italian or French style lock down because that would be dreadful for flat dwellers. We have settled into quite a regular routine now. Just got to get through the Easter Break which is going to be interesting!

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