Homeschooling for dummies

Do you have kids? Do you homeschool them during this global pandemic? If not, let me tell you what it is for us and for our friends around the world who have to do it. If yes, you had to go along with this last-minute homeschooling system, you might agree with me somewhere in this text.

We are deep in homeschooling season now, almost 3 months in. It’s the new normal. I had to drive to school to drop something, I got lost, I forgot which highway exit it was. Now school is in the comfort of your home, people will tell you. I will tell you, school is everywhere MOM is: bedroom, living room, kitchen, and even in the bathroom. There is no escape.

Let’s be honest, there are some advantages to this system. You don’t have to worry about uniform. Burn those greyish shirts and shorts from the 80’s, from now on school is in pajamas, bathing suit or princess dress. You also don’t have to run for school, you pretty much can organize the day how you want to. You’re done with the sandwich breakfast in the car while applying concealer on these eye bags. Pancakes and make up free mornings are the new norm. 

One major problem of this system is: forget to use your computer yourself. Sorry it’s their school device now, they have priority. They have to send back documents before 4 PM, THEY have work to do, do you get it? (You don’t really need it, right mom? You don’t have a life anyway, right mom?). In case of young children, you have to assist them, because yes, it’s their device now, but they have no clue how to use it. Schools probably forgot that part when saying “Homeschooling is making kids independent”. Trust me, they you can’t make them independent on a computer at 5. On Youtube, they can easily go from Dora the explorer to Dora the explorer but adult-without-clothes version (true story). If you don’t want that to happen, you have to stay next to them all the time. Our Homeschooling program is a mixture of videos, assignments to do and zoom meetings by the (paid) teacher (I’m the unpaid one). You will soon realize you have to be there for all parts. Cancel any other plan you had in your life.

The Zoom meetings. 

Do you have some? No, not with your BFF on Friday night to drink, I mean Did you ever have zoom meetings with more than 3 kids? Ok, let me explain it to you. Maybe it is what class does look like, but I never had any idea of it until now. When the teacher tries to teach six 5-year-olds at the same time on Zoom, it’s like an actual conversation of drunk people. Half the kids can’t focus on what is said and show their favorite toys or talk about what they ate for snacks, the other half is sleeping on the computer/climbing on the chair. School told us not to intervene in these meetings, well I find it very hard at least not to laugh. Some parents are shouting on their kids live, I particularly like those ones. They make me feel better. While other parents are fighting between them thinking we don’t hear: “Your kid (it’s always the kid of the other parent when they did something stupid, that’s universal) touched something and there is no video anymore, put it back quickly, I don’t know how this stupid Zoom works.” I feel you sister. 

In this mess, the teacher tries to explain something then asks each kid to answer a couple of questions to check if they got anything in. Five year olds are awesome at this part. They will scream the answer to help their friend, but they will also make sure the teacher took note they had no clue without their help. Full Honesty, no hard feelings, that’s very refreshing for adults.

My daughter had her worst zoom teacher meeting ever last week. She succeeded at the Zoom BINGO, as I told her. 

  1. She picked her nose on camera for 10 minutes (especially nowadays, it’s perfect)
  2. She said: “My mom said I couldn’t tell you but I’m going to see my friend Maya today.” Kids can’t keep secrets.
  3. When asked if the toy will sink or float on the water, she screamed “It STINKS”
  4. She said her dad kicks her with his elbow sometimes (and mimicked an elbow kick). Why on earth would she invent that?
  5. To the poor boy missing pool fun because of the lockdown she said: “I swim every day, because I have a pool in my garden.” Her Empathy App isn’t downloaded yet. 
  6. She asked “Is it over yet? Because I’m tired now, I will disconnect.” Honestly, I was glad.

Turns out, she lost the title of worst zoom meeting a few days later to a little girl who was supposed to show her rabbit, but said it wasn’t possible today because her sister had him DEAD. The moment of silence of the teacher that followed this sentence was priceless. 

Apart from these lovely Zoom classes, you, the mother (fathers will tell you they help, and they probably do, they might print the exercises) will have to teach proper school and concepts. Like water EVAPORATION for a 5-year-old. You will get assignements to fill in and send back. But in the end, you will end up doing half their work. because you’re not patient enough or because you don’t want to bother. I my case I precut everything she has to cut and paste because it takes her 3 hours to cut. But don’t worry, I cut it like a 5-year-old and nobody sees nothing (except if the teacher reads me now). Problem is now she turned lazy and she’s like “Mom, could you paste too?”. Well, this year we will learn how to cheat. 

Meanwhile you will see the “Moms of the year” posting on the Facebook page of the school the work their kids have done. While I’m desperately trying to teach my kids the difference between salt and sugar, some parents are building architectural marvels based on rice and lentils. They are digging their house to create rainbows with socks or numbers in toothpaste. Some kids are reciting full texts, dancing, making science experiments or doing yoga videos. First, there is NO WAY their kids did that by themselves. Second, why on earth do they have to post that? Aren’t we all struggling in this homeschooling thing? Am I alone in this? Is it to prove something to other mothers or reassure yourself you won’t screw over your kid’s education in 3 months? Come on people, it’s hard enough, have fun with your kids, don’t put pressure and have faith in teachers to get it all back in place in September for us. (Sorry, and good luck guys!) 

Meanwhile the schools and some brainwashed parents praise the homeschooling system: “It’s brilliant, it works so well! The bond between students and teacher is stronger than ever!” No, it is NOT. Zooms aren’t going to socialize kids. Mom isn’t an independent teacher. And we have one kid that has to be homeschooled. How do you manage if you have multiple kids? Do you cut your computers in two? Please stop telling it works. It will only reassure them to prolong this. Otherwise, why do we need teachers anyway? Might as well have a robot zooming with our kids forever.

Then came the time of evaluations. Without even giving us (new teachers without experience) any objectives or goals, suddenly school announces kids will be evaluated. I exploded. As if mothers didn’t have enough pressure on (put there by themselves), school added a layer of guilt. Because let’s face it, if the kids fail, who’s in question? The teacher she saw 3 times 20 min on Zoom or the parent teacher who was supposed to make her study? Isn’t it the actual teacher that should evaluate, meaning me? That’s when I remembered that I have to stay diplomatic. You can’t go to war with the system, you have to make the best out of it and try to navigate as well as possible in it. I did this pretty good, but with the news that schools might not reopen in September, I have to admit I lost it for a few days. But one thing at a time, let’s enjoy little victories, this week it’s holidays. We aren’t going anywhere but we don’t have to homeschool, and everyone agreed to say it is pretty dam good!

Meet The teacher.