Most parents in the UK just got a new job: home-schooling tutor. With all schools closed until at least mid-February (except for children of key workers and the vulnerable), we’re in it for the long haul. As with most things in life, though, there are positives and negatives. Here, we round up the Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly sides to home-schooling.
On the plus side of home-schooling.
We all want to spend quality time with the kids. What could be better quality time than sharing their headspace and nurturing their learning?
You might learn (or relearn) a thing or two yourself. Can’t quite remember your Pythagoras? Unable to tell your fronted adverbials from your verbal adjectives? What is the capital of Montenegro anyway?
School will probably send plenty of exercises to work through, but you also get the chance to shape your child’s learning and try a few things they wouldn’t get in the standard curriculum.
Your child will get much more one-to-one time with “teacher” than they would in a class of 30 or so kids.
You can set your own timetable. Not a mornings family? No problem… start the school day at 11 and finish at 5.30. Everyone’s an early riser? Laptops out at 7.30am, and finish in the early afternoon. Want to have Monday off? Switch it to Sunday instead.
Educational TV is ramping up to meet demand, and can be very good. If you’re having trouble explaining tricky concepts, chances are there’s a TV show or YouTube video that’ll do it for you.
“Oh look, it’s another grey, miserable day.” Well, at least you’re not going to get wet on the school run.
The downsides to home-schooling.
Obvious one: you’ve got a full time job to do, and you’ve also got several hours of lessons to plan or oversee. Looks like someone’s going to be working through the evening again. Can we have Hermione Granger’s Time Turner, please?
Not everyone can afford the extra equipment or data costs of full-on home schooling, especially those with two or more older children who both need laptops.
You have three school-age kids all with different educational needs. Better change into your superhero costume again.
School dinners are a perennial target for jokes but they do provide a daily hot meal with plenty of variety and (hopefully) nutrition. With so much else on your metaphorical plate, the literal plate can easily descend into “whatever I can throw together in 5 minutes”. If you can find a little more time, then try these simple lockdown lunch recipes.
You’re going to hit patches of stress and tiredness at some point (or perhaps many points). It’s a lot for anyone to handle.
They’re not going to see any of their friends or classmates for weeks on end (other than virtually). That really sucks.
When home-schooling can get very messy.
A pre-school sibling is intent on trashing the ‘classroom’, disrupting the lesson and eating the elder child’s laptop.
You’ve no space for a desk in your poky 2-bed flat, let alone a separate study. The sofa or dining table will have to do as the ‘classroom’.
You don’t have a garden in your poky 2-bed flat, so outdoor playtime is a quick turn around the balcony.
The printer ink runs out, the supermarket has sold out, and all non-essential shops are shut by law.
All this switching around of laptops can furnish some embarrassing mistakes. Your 8-year-old uploads your monthly accounts to the school interface, while your head of finance inadvertently receives a delightful picture of a unicorn farting rainbows.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.