I’m feeling really weird about all the back to school messaging right now. I’m pleased he’s going back, he needs it, I’ve tried my best but ultimately I’m not a teacher and in a very poor substitute for playtime with his friends. I’m also sad he’s going back, I really will miss him. I’m worried too, worried it’s too much, too soon, concerned that it might lead to further lockdowns and the impact that would have.
Now I need to stress that these are just the rather muddled thoughts of a stressed out, worried, tired and confused mum. This is not a well balanced, researched and thought out view on the current state of affairs. I know very little about politics. I haven’t researched anything. I’m just trying to get by and writing helps.
Now my child hates school, always has and most likely always will. So that adds an extra layer of problems for me. He actually prefers home schooling and has no desire to return. So for me, him now knowing that he can work from home successfully, well that’s a problem. Getting him settled at the start of term is hard enough, but this constant chopping and changing has made it infinitely more difficult. I am hugely worried about sending him back and getting him settled into school, only to have the rug pulled from under us again.
More than once he has now said, why do I have to go to school again when I can do school from home? This is particularly hard for me to hear as I genuinely felt homeschooling would be a better option for my boy but enrolled him into school anyway because as a family that was the decision we made. I don’t think it was the wrong decision, but I’m also becoming less and less sure it was the right decision.
Would I have been more comfortable with a phased return? Probably. Would it make any difference? I don’t know, I really don’t. It just seems gentler and more sensible and more in line with some of the scientific advice I’ve seen.
Then there is this constant talk of needing to catch up and how behind the children all are, well frankly that’s really winding me up. Yes he’s missed nearly a year of in school education, but this latest lockdown he’s been set, and is following a full curriculum, just as he would in school. I don’t feel he’s missed any education, he’s only missed the social interaction and the benefit of an actual trained teacher. That being said he’s had the benefit of one on one support, additional work on the given topics and time to learn about elements that interest him and are 100% tailored to his needs.
The first lockdown we had very little support from the school and I can understand the argument for having missed out educationally. That’s not to say we didn’t do anything though, we actually did a lot. An awful lot. It just didn’t follow any set curriculum. I found resources and sourced books that would interest and stretch him. We made the most of the natural world around us and learnt about things that would help him in real life, like laundry and cooking. Just because the things we did together don’t tick off these mandatory bullet points that have been set for them doesn’t mean he didn’t learn.
What he has missed out on is time with his friends, trips to the theatre and cinema, time with his family, he hasn’t even met his new cousin yet. He’s missed birthday parties and adventure and exploring. Whilst I did my best within the restrictions to make sure we saw people and got out and about there has always been the stress of Covid-19 hung over us.
His mental health has really suffered. He’s still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his great grandad to Covid and the bigger impact of watching his coffin being lowered into the ground. He shouldn’t have been at the funeral but our only childcare options were all at the service and though planned for a school day, they closed. When he was at school he wouldn’t play tag with his friends, because that would involve touching them and he couldn’t wash his hands in the playground. It’s one of the big reasons he isn’t keen on going back, he is worried about catching the virus and worried about all the changes and worried that if he doesn’t wash his hands every second of every day when he is outside of the house that he will get ill.
Obviously I’ve done my best to reduce his concerns but there is only so much I can do. It’s sad to see what this virus has done to him over the course of the last year.
When it comes to ‘catching up’ extra time over the school holidays or longer days, I won’t be entertaining that. For me, there are other things I want him to catch up on, seeing friends and family, going out and having fun, being a child and being far more carefree than he is now. I want him to build up his confidence in the world around him again. His world has become so very small and I want it to be wide open again. I want him to splash in the sea and run along the sandy beaches, climb trees and explore new forests. I want to go on holidays and have adventures. I want an awful lot more for him than is available right now, but when I think of all I want for him, extra maths doesn’t factor into the equation.
I am also that parent who counts down the days to school holidays and cries when they are over. I love spending time with my boy and I’m not saying it’s wrong to want or need a break from your children. But it’s not wrong to not want or need that break either, it just seems to be the unpopular opinion. Whenever I do have time to myself I’m often thinking how much L would have enjoyed the activity or if I could go back with him. It’s just how we are.
I guess overall I’m just worried, as I’m sure every parent is. I want what is best for him, and what is best for him won’t be the same as for any other child. Older children with exams, or grades, or whatever they are getting, will have different priorities to the younger ones. Kids moving from Primary to High will have different needs. Children who have been able to bubble up with family will maybe have different feelings. Even within our little family there are differing opinions, my husband feeling very different about things to me, he is far more for the catching up at school and being there longer, though I think that is more from a childcare point of view, which is baffling as it is me who that affects.
Let’s just hope things are getting better.