Here’s part 4 of our special series on home schooling
– the personal experiences of our incredible employees who are multi-tasking as lockdown teaching assistants.
Melanie Richardson lives in Lancashire and works as a reinstatement support specialist for our North West network, helping us manage the safe distribution of gas to 2.7 million homes.
She has three children, Ryan (18), Luke (16) and Noah (6).
The blog below was the spark that encouraged other colleagues to share their experiences and helped shape this series of ‘home school’ stories.
Melanie’s own blog
Day 1 of home school and I’m up bright and early, logging on my laptop for work, to get some work done before the rest of the house wakes up. I’m also logging into Noah’s laptop, ready for his first ever Google classroom call.
I am by no means a techno wiz and I’ve got more logins, passwords and platforms to remember for us all then I can shake a stick at. But I get there eventually.
Noah’s got spellings for Friday, dividing by 5’s, words that sound the same but are spelt differently, a Zoom call at 10.20, as well as Joe Wicks at 9am …
“Morning mummy,” calls a little voice. “Is it time for the Zoom call? I’m excited and dressed already!”
“Aww bless, won’t be long,” I replied.
First t-con of the day for me – and the dog has an uncanny knack of wanting to go out as soon as I join a call, anyone else’s pet do that?
“I’m hungry,” comes the voice from the lounge – the first of the 204592875th time of asking for today. Then: “Is it time for the Zoom call yet?”
Breakfast and PE with Joe. Ten minutes in and Noah’s had enough and “no, it’s not time for the call yet.”
Some Commercial updates for me to send off and then time for the Zoom call. He’s excited to see his teacher and his friends (bless) but “mummy, can you just stay with me and hold my hand I don’t want to answer any questions…”
It’s not even lunch of the new week and I’m wondering where I will find the strength to get through this.
I just wanted to share this with people to say it’s ok to feel this way, we all do from time to time and that’s not a bad thing, just recognise it and let it be. Have a cup of tea and regroup, as many times as it takes, we have all got this and will continue to muddle our way through being the best we can be each day. And that is enough…
Extra Q&A with Melanie
What did you learn in lockdown one that you’ve used this time round?
Be more accepting of what does and doesn’t get done, both for work and home. You have to prioritise.
How have you adapted to manage both work and home schooling? What’s been the biggest challenge?
The key for me is to check my calendar first thing in a morning. If there’s lots of calls in that day, forget being structured at home – go with the flow, let them do the work they enjoy most. If lunch is at 11.30 (to fit around other things), that’s absolutely fine, better happy than hangry kids.
How are your kids doing their work at home?
Ryan is easy, he is at University now, though that in itself hasn’t been the experience we thought it would be for his first year. He does the majority of work on Zoom and has been quite happy with the support and learning provided by UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire).
Luke has Down’s Syndrome. He lives with my parents and the pandemic has had me concerned about him more so with having a low immune system and a weak chest. But he has been fine and my mum and dad have a great structured week for him at home. He is who he is today because of their love and support.
Noah is doing fine but being six years old he still needs lots of assistance from me with his school work. He can do online reading and some online tasks, along with bookwork with myself.
Any tips / thoughts you would share with other parents / guardians who are also home schooling?
For me, structure or not to structure is one I wrestled with. And the conclusion I have reached is: it doesn’t really matter. Just go with what fits that day and what is right for you. Just take one day at a time and if you have a bad day (and everyone does) that doesn’t mean the next will be the same. The role of a parent is such a tough one but at the end of each day if you love, support, care for and help your children the best you can then that is enough and all they really want or need.