A new way of life: Dog grooming and surviving homeschooling

I hope you are all keeping safe. As we all experience this different way of living, most of our amenities have been temporarily closed; including, of course, dog groomers!

You’ve all met my dog Waffles through various social media posts and of course our ‘Waffles Wednesday’ updates. He has been due a haircut (as have many of us!) so last weekend we decided to do a DIY hair trim for him. It’s safe to say that this isn’t our area of expertise, and for a while he looked at us in a rather distrusting way, but we’re sure he must be secretly glad of feeling cooler in the heat (and being able to see again!)

I definitely have a newfound respect for my dog groomer, and indeed throughout this time the list of people I am grateful for is growing by the day. With 10-year-old twins (who annoyingly now know how little I know or remember from school), teachers are high on my list and in my opinion deserve a medal. After homeschooling the kids for what seemed like an eternity, we broke for the Easter holidays, during which time they flat out refused to do any studying. This week as we try to re-establish a routine, the daunting realisation has properly set in that our children are not going back to school anytime soon.

I’ve heard a lot from friends and peers about the struggles we are all facing when it comes to homeschooling, and in lots of cases combining home-schooling with working from home. Are we supposed to be putting timetables together? What subjects should we be focusing on? How long should I spend with them on each task? The list of questions is endless! Luckily one of the members of my team is engaged to a secondary school teacher and my sister is a primary school teacher so (partly for my own sanity) I asked if they could suggest some pointers and tips from a teacher’s perspective on what we should or shouldn’t be doing at this time.

This is what the secondary school teacher had to say about homeschooling:

“Where possible and practical, kids should study a certain subject at the time of day they would ordinarily be studying it. Routine is key. This is for two reasons. Firstly, routine is good for learning, the mind is more prepared and more open if that is what it is expecting to do. If a child is used to doing Spanish at 9am on a Monday morning, then their brain will be more prepared for it and learning will be more successful. Secondly, make it fun! The kids are going to be feeling all different types of emotions so it’s important that they can still feel like home is home and school is school. If kids are relaxed then they’re far more likely to absorb information.

“Don’t be hard on yourselves and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go to plan each day. Most teachers are great and will try to be online where possible at the designated lesson time so they’re on hand to support if necessary. Teachers accept that not all parents are able to help with all subjects, that’s our job. You only have to have glanced on social media over recent weeks to notice the outpouring from teachers offering support, ideas and even resources to better facilitate home learning. It is important that we look for the positives in these times and cherish the extra time we get with our kids

If you have primary aged children the homeschool advice is:

“Don’t panic!! If you are stressed and anxious it will be passed on to your children, they will feel this anxiety and feel the same way, no one learns or remembers anything when they feel like this. Your child’s school should be sending home ideas and links to learning that they would have covered at this time in school, use these as a guide, but remember not everything has to be done all in one go or on that specific day. If your child doesn’t want to write down the 7 different continents of the world and list 5 countries in Africa, like my child today, but will talk about them, look for them in an atlas and sing you the song they learnt in school to help them remember then that’s a good job done! As teachers we would adapt the planning in school for individual children so we can do that at home for our own children. Be kind to them and to yourselves, once you have a battle on your hands it’s almost impossible to achieve any learning, I should know! I may be a teacher but to my own children I am still just Mum. Your children’s teachers will be more than happy to help out with any suggestions or ideas so contact school if you need to. As it has been said many times, we are all in this together.”

I think from reading the above that it is really important to remember that the teachers are on hand for support and guidance not only for your children but also for us as parents. We’re not teachers, and they empathise with that and will always try and help where possible. Everyone will have their own ways of tackling this and I’d love to hear how you are all managing during this time and if there are any ideas that we can share with one another.

Routine and balance (and cut yourself some slack)

I believe that routine and balance are the key, whilst also appreciating that life is very different and that children will be learning huge amounts away from their schoolbooks whilst cooking, building dens, reading and even socialising.  Initially, I was concerned at the amount of time my son was spending on video chats with his friends, mainly playing with virtual football cards, but I have relaxed and realised that he is working on his social skills and bonding with his peers, using his humour to live and laugh through a time that can be quite terrifying for a small person. So, my closing words on the subject of homeschooling are, whatever you are doing at the moment to support your child’s learning, well done, cut yourself (and them) some slack and take the pressure off, knowing that once they are back at school they will quickly pick up anything they have missed.

I hope this has helped in some small way. It’s a difficult time for all and it’s good to keep reminding ourselves that we’re all in this together.

I hope you all continue to stay healthy and safe. Here’s a pic below showing the kids favourite part of homeschooling 🙂 plus a list of useful links to educational resources…

Educational resources

We have compiled lots of education resources that have become free to use over the coming weeks. We hope that you will find them helpful.