I’ve seen so many different views on this. Daily work, weekly work, home work packs, must log on, don’t have to log on, remote lessons, live lessons, pre recorded lessons, phone calls home, threatening letters to parents, too high expectations, too low expectations, have to do it, don’t have to do it. I’ve seen it all being right and all being wrong – very rarely have I seen an opinion that is middling. It seems like home schooling work is exactly the same as normal homework – no one will ever get it right and please everyone. Usually we accept this – seemingly in this situation we don’t. Now, some are falling over themselves to provide as much as they can as quickly as they can. Rightly, there is worry about the gaps that might develop between those who can access work and those who can’t, those who will access work and those who won’t.
We have to accept that not all children will do the work. I work in a school where parents are very supportive and really engage with reading at home, place a high value on homework and have high aspirations for their children. However, I have a return rate of about between 50-60% across my school for the first week of work. It’s about what I expected and I fully expect it will drop as time goes on. What it does lead to me to believe though is that there will be so many schools that will have significantly less children engaging in work than this. An all carrot approach won’t work – there is little to no personal contact between school and home to follow it through. Likewise, an all stick approach won’t work either. Threatening emails to parents won’t make chidlren log on – the parents are probably just trying to get through any given day. Threatening emails to children won’t work either. They are children, predominantly interested in instant gratification. The threat of a detention in September will do little do dissuade them from their current actions.
Parent’s don’t have the capacity to work like we do in school. My two kids have had my wife’s undivided attention this week. They haven’t achieved what they would have in school – of course they haven’t. The relationships are different, the rules are different, the expectations are different. Children don’t follow the rules at home the same way they do at school. Those rules and routines take a skilled practitioner weeks to establish in September and now we through everyone a massive curveball and expect them to deal with it and get similar results in terms of output? This is folly.
There is no need to get stressed out about the work you are setting as a teacher, or are not doing as parent. The reality is that everything will need to be retaught when we get back to school. We can’t rely on any of the knowledge or skills that we’ve asked them to work on still being retained when we get back to school. Take my school. At best 50% will have done the work. Half of those will have done it badly as they’ve had no support from a parent, because they are trying to do their own job. A handful will have had support that may have sewn misconceptions because parents aren’t teachers. The ones that do it well will have forgotten all about it when we get back to school. We need a detailed plan for our return more than we need a detailed plan for now. Now we need work that is available for the ones that want to keep their kids ‘ticking over’ to do just that. What we really need to think about is how we get them all caught up in September. Not just some of them, all of them, because they will all need it.
What that looks like, I don’t know. It will be a national problem, not just a local one. For now though, do your best and know that it’s enough. So what if your kid is building Lego, den building and playing outside with their days? There is plenty of evidence that older children should be doing that more anyway, and more than enough examples of the learning that goes on in these activites. It’s our job as teachers to sort it out when we get back, and we will, and we will do it well. Give your families what they need right now – and the chances are that isn’t school work.