Office, classroom and a home

The carnage of Covid-19 has thrown curveballs at every single one of us, especially parents of those children who are currently off school for an ‘indefinite’ period. Never has the word indefinite struck such a terrifying tone.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:00 pm

Like all things, people are approaching this unique challenge in different ways. There are those who painstakingly draw up lesson timetables in a bid to replicate the structure of formal education while others cook up incredible new ways of learning, which usually involve making homemade slime or chalking phonics on the Indian Sandstone patio.

Then there’s my way, the third way - which largely involves me starting the day in a cheerfully optimistic manner before finishing wearily at teatime, longing for an urgent appointment with Mr Malbec.

If I was under any illusion before, this past week or two has taught me that I am not cut out for teaching under any circumstances.

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It is true that the highly skilled professionals who guide our offspring through the curriculum aren’t preoccupied with doing another job in between algebra and messy play, but that doesn’t hide the fact that I am no Mr Chips. My approach to administering rudimentary education is haphazard to say the very least, with the only constant being the start of the day when we try to keep up with the nation’s PE teacher Joe Wicks or his ever so slightly bonkers alternative Jump Start Jonny.

Until last Tuesday I had no idea what a mummy kick was and now, days later. I can still feel its painful legacy in my 43-year-old left calf.

After that, the day generally goes downhill in a Bez Does Science kind of way. At the very start of this extraordinary journey of discovery, I set almost impossible goals, all of which were missed in spectacular fashion.

The turning point came in an email from my children’s headteacher who shared a simple message, reminding parents that we aren’t teachers and the secret to surviving the coming months is ensuring our children are kept as safe as they are busy.

Like parents everywhere, I will make it up as I go.

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