In many ways we are currently in a time of great uncertainty, particularly with the education of our children. One day schools are open and the next they are closed. Some children are attending school and some are not. In many cases, home learning is the only way of providing them with an education. Those due to take exams this year are constantly battling with the thoughts of how they are going to be given grades and how this will affect their futures. Will a GCSE or A Level grade for 2020 and 2021 be viewed in the same way by colleges, universities and employers that previous grades have been viewed? I sincerely hope that the answer to this question is a ‘yes.’
Some people have expressed concern regarding the long term effect that learning from home and being stuck indoors for most of the day will have on our children.
It is very easy for our mind sets to slip into a negative mode and remain there. I walk the dog every day and regularly stop to chat with others in the area. The general topic of conversation with fellow dog walkers tends to be that of Covid negativity and this is absolutely understandable, especially with those who have lost loved friends and family, but it’s nice to come across the occasional person who has a more positive approach.
So let’s be positive. What can be gained from this situation which seems to be enveloping our lives at the moment? Will our children being stuck indoors help them to reflect and realise the value of life once this is all over? Will it make them responsible individuals?
It pleased me greatly a few days ago when my eighteen-year-old son asked – or did he tell me? I’m not quite sure - if he could move away from the house to live in a caravan on the farm where he works. His reasoning for doing so was that, as a key worker who mixes with a range of other people at work, he was worried that he would contract Covid 19 and pass it on to other members of the family, some of whom have underlying conditions. What admirable reasoning I thought! – I ignored the fact that this meant that he would be living with a mate and wouldn’t have anyone there to nag him to tidy his room or do the washing up! Let’s stick with the positives and believe that his intentions are honourable.
Like many sixteen year olds at the moment, my year 11 daughter is home learning and concerned about her GCSE grades, whilst also in the process of applying for college next year. One day she wants to be an interior designer and the next she’s thinking about being part of the NHS. Would her thoughts about the latter have existed if she hadn’t seen the wonderful work that all of our NHS staff have done since the outbreak of Covid? She has never mentioned anything about this before. Perhaps she, like many others, has been inspired by their work, their dedicated attitudes and willingness to help all of those who need their skills and care. If she decides to become part of the NHS I would be very proud.
As a parent and the Head of Education at Nexus Fostering, I regularly talk to fellow adults about how they and their children are approaching home learning. There are some who are finding the situation to be difficult but many are stating a pride in how their children are dealing with the change. Young people are learning to become a little more independent and less reliant on having a teacher by their side. They are learning to self-study and the whole process of home learning is instilling them with a sense of self-discipline that will serve them well in the future. Many are coping well and enjoying and preferring online learning compared to the more traditional methods at school. Children of all ages tend to be more resilient than we think.
Of course, I am speaking generally as well as writing about two older children who are of an age where independence is craved and somewhat more simple to achieve. My distant memory of being a parent and a teacher of young children remembers that a five-year-old does not just settle to a given task and then spend the next hour quietly completing it. To all of the parents and carers out there who have one or more small children currently home learning whilst you balance a range of work and other things, I salute you!
Like the older kids, I believe that the little ones will also learn and benefit from this experience. The normally boisterous children whose life’s mission was to run around and make loud noises have started to think about where their mask is before they go out. They have started to join in conversations with adults about the effect that Covid is having on others and they have started to miss their friends at school. Some are even missing their teachers and the learning that is provided in the classroom. This in itself is a learning experience which will serve them well in the future.
As adults, I think that we have also learnt to appreciate the work of others and not take it for granted so much – the doctors and nurses, the teachers and teaching assistants, the refuse collectors and helpers at the local tip, the builders and the guy who recently fixed the leak in my garage roof, the delivery drivers, the shop keepers, the foster carers, social workers and fostering agencies, etc, etc. Thank you to you all.
So yes, we are all going through a difficult and challenging time at the moment but let’s look at the positives that can be gained from this experience, for ourselves and the children in our care. If we allow ourselves to do so, we can come out of this as better people!