Keeping The Kids On Track For School

Parents around the country feel pressure to home-school their kids

With students around the country now on holidays and unsure of when they’ll be retuning to school, parents have been taking it upon themselves to educate their kids.

It’s not an easy job. Just ask Sue Radford, the mother of Britain’s largest family with 21 children (and another on the way), who is currently homeschooling nine of her children. She posted a photo last week of her mini-classroom crowded around the kitchen table.

Parent-teacher night must take ages.

If you’re a parent feeling stressed about making sure your kids don’t miss out on their education, primary school teacher Bryony Horricks reckons it might be good for parents just to relax a bit first. “Just give your kids some time to relax, no one can learn anyway when they’re stressed.”

No doubt it’s an anxious time for parents. Not only do they have to make sure they’ve got enough toilet paper in the house, they’ve got to brush up on their geography, algebra and Shakespeare. Now is the winter of their discontent. To be or not to be a teacher, that is the question. My kingdom for a role of toilet paper. And so on.

The point is, if you can’t remember the capital of Namibia, how to solve for X or how Richard III’s prose presents the protagonist as an anti-hero, don’t forget that learning can be done in more ways than one.

Every day activities like cooking and writing emails are part of a child’s education too. “Don’t think it needs to look how it looks at school,” Ms Horricks told The Project.

The real trick is to disguise household chores as ‘learning.’ For example, convince kids that unstacking the dishwasher is a way for them to learn geometry. Doing the weeding can teach children botany. Washing the car can reveal the chemistry of soap and hot water. The options are endless.

Of course, one thing that kids do miss when they’re not attending school is socialising. “It’s really important for us as parents to think how can I boost a sense of positive emotion into my kid’s life and make sure our kids are getting their social needs met,” psychologist Lea Waters says.

But, the overarching message from education experts for parents is simple: lower your expectations. Remember, a seven-hour day at school doesn’t mean the kids are learning for seven hours. There’s recess, lunchtime and (based on this writer’s own personal experience) a lot of time spent sneaking out of school to buy chips from the fish n’ chip shop across the road (which happened so much the school had to get a teacher to stand at the entrance of the shop to catch the kids).

“Some days will be better than others,” Ms Horricks says. “If you manage to read some books together and get some of your own work done, that’s a win.”

The Project will be discussing this further on the show at 6:30pm tonight.