Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers

Gregory in a school concert when he was 8 years old

My sons have been home schooling since our schools first closed on 18 March this year. That equates to four and a half months of my having to drag my youngest reluctantly from his bed each school day, feed him and force him to sit in front of his computer for at least some of the day. It also involved me having to try to get to grips with all his Google classrooms, on-line tasks and their submissions and even his school email. It has been hard work to say the least.

I had no such issues with Gregory, my older son. Greg is exactly like me, hugely driven and determined. Nothing was going to stand in the path of his personal goals and success. Greg simply got stuck in and spend most of my 8 hour working day, sitting next to me at the table working away. He battled with maths problems, hammering away at IT concepts until they made sense and filled work books with detailed and copious notes for every subject. In fact, Covid-19 and the lockdown seem to have resulted in Greg really coming into his own. His mid-year examination results are rolling in now and so far he has achieved 3 subjects with overall mark percentages in the 90%s, two in the high 80%s and one mark in the 70%s which is his second language and quite tough.

On the other side of the spectrum, Michael found it very hard to cope and did as little as possible. He took to running away or locking himself in his bedroom. I was frustrated, I couldn’t understand what the problem was and I blamed it on the teachers. They weren’t doing enough to keep him engaged. They weren’t assigning enough work. What was going on? Why were they ignoring my son’s class?

I managed to keep him reasonably up to date with English, Afrikaans, Maths and History but Science and Geography fell by the wayside. Michael said the teachers weren’t posting anything for these subjects. I was trying to cope with the demands of my job which escalated over this period and never got around to unravelling what was happening with these two subjects. Then the exams rolled around and Michael needed to prepare and study.

I always test him on his work and when I pulled out his science and geography notebooks I discovered they were completely empty. He hadn’t done any of the work for the whole term. Initially I was livid. How did this happen? Why didn’t the teachers know that he hadn’t done any of the work? And then I sat down and thought about it.

I thought about how quickly Covid-19 came upon us and how the teachers had to change their entire teaching strategy almost overnight. I thought about how much effort and work had gone into their preparing all the material for the boys and how difficult it must be for some of the teachers, especially the older ones, to suddenly have to become adept at Google classroom and other on-line resources which they had only used occasionally in the past.

I considered my own child and I came to realise that Michael was just not coping with the on-line teaching. He just didn’t know where to start. That wasn’t the teachers faults. It wasn’t really his fault either as Michael has a processing problem and attended a remedial school until last year. It was just how it was and I had to do something to help him and to help his teachers help him. So I took control. I emailed every single teacher and got access to all the classrooms and tools. I sat with Michael and forced him to read all the work and complete all the missed assignments. I caught him up by establishing a strict routine for him and breaking the incomplete work and the other study material up into bite sized chunks that he could cope with. The teachers were helpful. They gave him additional time to complete the assignments he had missed. They were supportive of our efforts. Michael’s results have also rolled in and he passed all his subjects and achieved marks in the high 70’s for Science, Life Science, History and Maths.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because I didn’t have a clue how hard it is to teach children. How much effort is required to break down the material into workable lessons and practice sessions on the work covered. It has made me appreciate the job of a teacher much more.

Why are parents frustrated with teachers now and why is on-line teaching so difficult? It is because the parents have to drive the children to perform. In a normal school situation, the peer group plays a big role. Kids compete with each other and discuss themes and lessons which capture their attention. When the kids are at home, the teachers provide the tools and facilitate lessons BUT, the child has to have a good deal of self discipline, self control and ambition to grasp these tools effectively and motivate him/herself to really learn and absorb. If the child doesn’t do this, which most of them don’t, this task falls to the parents. This is tough for parents as we are also working and have limited time. It makes us feel like we are doing the teachers job. We are not, we are forcing our children to be disciplined and to do their work. It’s not the same thing at all.

I must admit that I think on-line learning is horrible for teachers and students. It is really hard to engage kids on-line and capture their interest. They are not forthcoming in Google classrooms, they don’t speak. Getting them to participate is like pulling teeth.

I have a lot of regard for our teachers who are doing their best to play the game with the cards they’ve been dealt this year. It’s not easy for anyone and we all have to pull together to get through this difficult time.

I wrote this post in response to Jessica Norrie’s post about teachers and the attitude of the general public to teaching which you can read here: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/those-who-can-teach-and-translate/

119 thoughts on “Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers

  1. All I can say is Thank You, Robbie, for showing the understanding that many don’t.
    It’s hard for kids, parents and teachers alike. None of us are equipped for online learning, especially for young kids. Where we try to steer them away from screens, here we have to draw them too them, and in an engaging way…
    It’s so not easy.

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    1. Hi Ritu, I have just tried to share with others the process I’ve had to go through to get this on-line learning right. I am fortunate that we actually have wonderful teachers who have all come out to help me get Michael back on track. It is not an easy time and I think teaching is one of the hardest jobs to do on-line. Hats off to you all for giving it your best despite the difficulties.

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      1. I think it’s important for parents who understand the struggle, to share this.
        I know for a fact there are folks here who are gunning for teachers blood, thinking they’ve just had extended holidays… Because they are frustrated that they’ve had their kids at home.
        If anything, I’d hope it was appreciation they felt, knowing we look after their lovelies, and 29 others at the same time, everyday… And that we missed being with them, helping them progress in our own way…

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      2. I hope other parents will gain some benefit from this post in understanding why they feel frustrated. Understanding brings about an ability to make the necessary changes to cope and improve the situation. It isn’t easy, but when you make a decision to have children, you do take on the responsibility of raising them, regardless of how adverse the circumstances are.

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  2. This is terrific Robbie, thank you so much for your candor in sharing this. My son is grown now, but also had a big issue with school in his mid-teens…I can only imagine how difficult it would have been had he been at home quarantined – you have two very different kids in this respect, and your honesty in discussing all aspects of this is so welcome…bravo – and good luck.

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    1. Thank you, John, I think most parents can relate to the difficulties of getting kids through school with reasonable marks. It is a battle. I do have to very different boys but they both deserve recognition for their achievements. My experience is that when a child practices avoidance, it is because they just aren’t coping for some reason.

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  3. I am so thankful to you Robbie for understanding the other side – the teacher’s struggle to cope up with the needs of each child and that too while remote learning is considered to be easy by many. Only those who have worn the shoes of a teacher can understand that teaching through digital devices is more challenging.

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    1. HI Balroop, I think the kids being in groups in a classroom is very helpful with teaching. On-line is very difficult. The kids feel isolated and demotivated. It is hard to reach out via an electronic device and bridge this gap. I think once you have tried to do it yourself, you can really appreciate the difficulties. I am grateful for the teachers at my sons school.

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  4. I have accepted the fact that I’m absolutely no good as a teacher. I admire those who can teach and I’m grateful for the teachers who taught me, but I haven’t got enough patience to explain how I want something done.

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    1. HI Danny, I am not good at teaching other people either. I am also not very patient. It is different with small children thought and it is different with your own children. For me anyway. I really enjoy teaching small children because they are so interested and full of wonder. None of the disinterest and disillusionment of life has touched them yet and they are thirsty to learn. As for my own children, well, they have to be taught. That is the commitment I made when I decided to have children. I am not a saint but the task gets done [grin].

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    1. HI John, thank you for commenting. I was so happy that Michael managed to pull it together and achieve. It took me a while to figure out what was wrong, that he just wasn’t managing without help. I am like Greg or Greg is like me, and I’ve never not coped so it didn’t come to me straight away what the problem was. I thought about it and then it became obvious. Once you achieve understanding you can take steps to remediate.

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  5. Hi Robbie – it’s the original culprit here! Thank you so much for your honest, angry, inspired response to my post – itself a response to another teacher’s post – in your article. My children are now in their 20s and independent, but when they were at school all the professional training in the world couldn’t help me to get one of them on track, and the other would have sailed through in any circumstances with or without my help (incidentally, they’re both doing fine now which makes me wonder whether all the agonizing was necessary). Keep at it if lockdown means you have to or if there’s a second wave. The key is to recognise every pupil is different, find out where they’re at and build on that. Encourage what they do well, be gentle with them about things they find harder – as long as they’re moving forwards in SOMETHING that’s fine, even if the steps are small. Students’/parents’/teachers’ mental health in these circumstances is paramount, academic stuff can always catch up… I do so sympathize with students of all ages on losing the social aspect of being in a class. My parallel experience is the loss of participating in my choir, literally being in tune with others (or not!), above, below, alongside, even competing with other real human beings. However, if one result of this pandemic is to make us worship the screen less and value human interaction more, that will be a good thing. I wish you ALL a good summer holiday!

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    1. Hi Jessica, thank you for visiting and commenting. This pandemic has certainly taken us all down a different road and we have learned a lot about ourselves, our children and our lives. I always had regard for teachers as I have done a bit of teaching myself, but I do admire and respect the way they have stepped up and rallied to try and help the kids.

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      1. I think a lot of people have found new strengths and skills and had to rethink their priories recently. There are many positive aspects although many tragedies and injustices also.

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  6. Such an important topic for discussion, Robbie. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences at a time when we all need direction and a time and place to talk about teaching/education/classrooms/teachers/students/onlineclasses etc.

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    1. Hi Bette, thanks for visiting. It is easy to judge others but when you stop and give situations some thought, you realise they are doing their best in a difficult situation and time. It is the same for our governments and leaders. Most of them are doing their best to try and save lives with simultaneously keeping the economy afloat. I would hate to be in any of their shoes right now.

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  7. I commend you, Robbie, for taking matters in hand to ensure that Michael got back on track. Another factor that came into play with the need for schools to switch to online instruction with no time for preparation is that virtual learning environment and the physical learning environment are very different. It takes years of practice and experience to understand the characteristics of the online learning environment well enough to get really proficient at teaching online. My hat’s off to the teachers who had to make the change on such short notice and did so with dedication and grace.

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    1. Hi Liz, thanks for joining the conversation. I agree with you and that is a big part of how I arrived at understanding and gratitude. Becoming accustomed to working on-line all the time, negotiating the complexities of the IT world and simultaneously trying to change all the teaching material and hold the interest of students who are anxious and out of routine, that is incredibly hard. It has been hard for me and I’ve worked at home a few days a week for years and I also do post grad on-line courses. I hate them, I much prefer presenting to a live audience so I can relate to the difficulties of trying to engage on-line.

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  8. Bravo for sharing this post Robbie. It takes time to figure out what is going wrong and figure out what to do about it. I have many family members and friends who are teachers and really struggled with the same situations you dealt with. Thanks for supporting the teachers out there.

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    1. Hi Carla, thanks for visiting. It takes a deliberate effort by a parent to achieve understanding, both of the teachers position and of your own children’s situation. I had to apply my mind to both to arrive at the good place to move forward. Now that I’ve sorted out what was wrong for Michael, I can prevent a reoccurrence next term. I am sure it will still be a struggle, but an easier one now that I have the right tools to help.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this post, Robbie. Teaching is not an easy job. I almost want to say, not everyone wants to be a teacher. We have a lot of things to deal with.
    In the US, for elementary school, we have “self contained” classrooms, meaning the teacher teaches all the subjects. It’s hard to prepare all the subjects and teach 25 (lower grades) to 40 (upper grades) students with different academic levels.
    I remember in my early teaching years, we had different reading groups at the same grade within the curriculum. I might have four reading groups and taught one group at a time and had the rest of the class do “seat work” from their workbooks. As you might guess, the reading groups were formed according to their reading levels.
    I team taught other subjects with another teacher. One year, I taught computer while he taught science. We trade classes, I sent mine to him and he sent his to my class.
    Many upper grade teachers team teach because the preparation for each subject is very involved. Imagine the 6th grade teacher got a student coming to the class not speaking English. I don’t need to elaborate on this.
    By fourth grade, if the student is not English proficient, he/she has problem in all subject areas.

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    1. HI Miriam, it is the same here in South Africa in primary school. The teacher is responsible for most subjects, except the second language and things like drama. It is a lot more work than people realise. That is the case with most things in life, it is a lot of hard work to do it properly. The English problem is huge here as most African people are not English first language. They are taught in English from the fourth grade and, as you say, if they aren’t proficient by then, it is very difficult for them to manage.

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  10. Well done Greg, but he’s older, an adult virtually I guess, but teachers, parents and children have all been thrown in the deep end; not like children in the Australian outback who were brought up doing school on the radio in the old days!
    Our older son was called ‘the sponge ‘ when he joined the RAF as he absorbed everything. The younger son who would never do any work at school is now self employed ( a disaster in Covid ) and creates his own spread sheets to predict his future earnings.

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    1. Hi Janet, I agree that our kids grow up despite everything. There is a lot of pressure now to perform academically and some kids just aren’t as academic. Greg is 17 years old but it is his nature that makes him so determined to succeed. It is unusual in a young person, I think. Michael is more like most kids, not to keen on working, but this was more than that. He was completely overwhelmed with the on-line studying. I hope your younger son’s business will survive C-19.

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    1. Hi Carol, thanks for visiting. There is only so much a teacher, or even a parent, can do for a child. They also have to motivate themselves, but if there is an obvious problem, intervention can help get the child back on track. I should have realised earlier that Michael was overwhelmed, but better late than never.

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      1. Absolutely, Robbie…I was watching Lily and Aston yesterday playing basket ball ( 7 and 15)…Both different as chalk and cheese….He doesn’t giver her an inch..Guess who won 3 out of 3…I was watching her eyes and she was calculating her next move every time and was just too smart for him..She may be a lot smaller but by golly she had all her brain cells focused on winning. I think you are doing an awesome job, Robbie with your boys and they will both benefit from that 🙂 x

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Robbie. It really is incredible how teachers have responded to the needs of students and gone well beyond their job description by learning software, helping kids with mental health challenges at home, and more. A positive thing that has come from COVID is that teachers are getting much more recognition than before, and that’s long overdue. I think you are doing great homeschooling – and your ability to do so while holding down such a busy job as well as writing books and blogging is amazing.

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    1. Hi Christy, I am feeling like I need a holiday. The term ends this week and I am planning a two week work break from Friday. Michael and I will do some baking together and Greg and I will have a couple of buddy reads.

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    1. Hi Beth, I do my best to help my children. I used to help Greg a lot too in preparing for exams. I would write out questions for him to answer and then mark all the answers. I believe this taught him to summarise and take notes which he does copiously now.

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    1. Hi Tandy, you are 100% right about that. The squandering of public funds and corruption in the education and public health system of the past has now come home with a big bang. It is very sad for those who are impacted. It is worrying for everyone as gov is talking about running the school year over into next year and starting the University year later. How on earth will that work? It sounds like a disaster. Honestly, on-line isn’t great for kids and even those that are lucky enough to have it are not getting the best education this year.

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  12. Hi Robbie, It was so interesting to read about how you coped with your children during the lockdown. I felt so much sympathy for parents who suddenly had that huge challenge. Toni x

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  13. You hit a home run with this one, Robbie. If teachers dealt with nothing but parents like you, the job would be so much easier. I frankly haven’t heard a plan for schools offering school online and in person. There is no way a teacher can adequately do both.

    One thing that your post didn’t cover is all the behavior problems teachers have to deal with daily. Most schools discourage suspensions, even for egregious behaviors. That means you end up tolerating a lot more than you would with your own children. Sometimes we encouraged to send our problem children into another teacher’s classroom. I didn’t think that was fair to do to a colleague.

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    1. I don’t have problem children, Pete, so I have to imagine how awful that must be for a teacher. Some parents are totally neglectful and disinterested in their children and that is sad. The children misbehave as a cry for help/attention. My children have no such luck, they are watched very carefully and I pay them and their work a lot of attention. If Michael is naughty, it is because there is a problem or because he wants me to sit with him and help him. He likes that.

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    1. Hi Sally, it is kind of you to share this post. I hope it will help other parents who are struggling to sort out a plan. I must admit, I did get some advice from Ritu. I have enjoyed having the boys at home despite the difficulties of the home schooling. I think I’ve been fortunate to have this “stolen” time with them.

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  14. Hi Robbie. A very interesting post. It’s good to get a parent’s opinion on teachers and teaching. I think teachers and nurses have two of the most challenging jobs because of how closely they have to work with people. They are both jobs that require absolute dedication and empathy and not careers to enter just for the pay cheque.

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    1. You are right about that, Kim. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things about teaching in public schools that are not conducive to enjoyment of the profession. In particular, the class sizes are ridiculous. You can’t easily develop a relationship with over 40 children, it’s more like crowd control. I am fortunate that my boys are in a great school.

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    1. You are spot on, Geoff. Without teachers none of us would be where we are today. My mom commented last week that she is shocked that one of my teachers gave me Helter Skelter (about the Charles Manson family) to read when I was 10 years old. I was telling her how great it was that this particular teacher gave me such excellent books to read. Go figure! I’ve always taken the view, if they can read it and want to read it, then they may read it.

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  15. Great post Robbie. It’s tough for teachers, parents and kids. Online isn’t ideal and as you say some don’t cope with it well at all. My youngest daughter has some problems too so she doesn’t cope well with online. I was so proud of her that she struggled through to get a 2.1 for her 2nd university year without the face to face help she usually gets. Well done to you for all you do for your sons Robbie.

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    1. I am glad my boys school has pushed ahead, Mark. Many of our government schools don’t have the facilities to home school and the kids don’t have access to the internet. Those children are just getting no education at the moment. Now there is a big conundrum about how they are going to get the syllabus finished this year and they want to push it into next year and then shorten the holidays to scrunch up the following year’s work. Sounds awful and I don’t know how that will work with the Universities.

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  16. I have been homeschooling and working all the way through . Now we are in school holidays the battle with computer games is harder.. my 9 year old has done loads with alot of time and one and one support from me . This morning he did an oak academy lesson on scalene and isosceles triangles. He did it reluctantly as wants to play on the computer. The holidays right now are going to be harder then home school. With homeschool they were busy. Now I am trying to find things to do at home as to nervous with covid to go out.
    Teaching kids is very hard work!

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    1. I agree with you completely. Teaching kids is hard work and entertaining them is also hard work. The alternative is that they spend all their time on screens. It is harder with older kids to limit them as that is what all the teenagers do. I try to do a trade off and make them do some reading and exercise in between all the gaming.

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      1. Both my children are obsessed with their computer games. The desire for them to play their games distracts from them reading. I’m mum the nag but where daddy lets them play I try hard to do other things with them. I have two weeks leave from next week, I’m trying to think of interesting things to do… which is exhausting as it would be easier to let them play their games and then me just read….

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      2. Yes, I know the feeling especially when they push so hard to play. I am forcing mine to do other things as well. I don’t know why I can’t ever take the easy route in life, but I have this horrible compulsion to do what I think is best for them.

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  17. wonderful post Robbie. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have school age children in this moment in time. Kudos to everyone involved, from teachers to students to parents. It’s almost like giving many parents a second full-time job. The stress levels must be high.

    I applaud you on your efforts with Michael, and congratulate both of you on your success.

    And thank you for the kind words about teachers. While I am a teacher, I think it is much easier at the University level. I’ve got motivated students and lots of tech tools to help me. My wife, on the other hand, teaches pre-K. She did an amazing job of adapting to a virtual classroom through using Zoom and other technologies, but it was a lot of time and effort. And the parents had to be right there with their kids during all of this. Challenging to say the least.

    This pandemic can’t end soon enough…

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    1. Absolutely, Jim, this pandemic is definitely not making life easy. University is easier as the students should be more motivated and are doing subjects that [hopefully] interest them. I loved university. I used to prepare for all my lectures and sit in the front so I could ask lots of questions. I still do this when I get to go on training and to conferences. I can never understand people who sleep through training and learning opportunities. Why would you let life pass you by like that? I listen to everything.

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      1. Yes, I also believe college is the easiest level to teach at.

        I love learning as well. And when I took the Clifton Strengths Finder, that was my number one attribute…

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  18. Gosh what challenges this virus has brought on us. Teaching is not easy. And then suddenly having to change, is hard for teacher, child, parents.

    Parents at this time really are super parents, I can’t image how tough it is.

    Well done to you all , you have all done do well. Seriously.

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    1. Thank you, Adele. I was very relieved when Michael’s results came in and were so good. Everyone piled in to help him. His brother summarised his entire science work book for him, I tested him and oversaw his catching up and my husband helped him with maths.

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  19. Robbie, thank you for this post. I teach at the college level, and it is no where nearly as difficult as teaching younger children. I have such enormous respect for what teachers do and now for the parents who have had to become teachers also.

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    1. Hi Charles, thanks for visiting and commenting. It should be easier teaching at University level as the students have more self discipline and determination. I would expect them to also be studying a course that interests them. Home schooling has been a challenge, but I have enjoyed having the boys home with me. I hope they can go back to school next term as they miss the social side.

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  20. Great post Robbie, I’m glad you saw the big picture. I was recently reading something about that, how the teachers were suddenly caught off guard while their world too was upside down, and having to change their whole strategy at the drop of a hat. We do all have our axes to bear, don’t we. ❤

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    1. We certainly do have much to bear at the moment, Debby. Working from home has its down side. There are no breaks. Somehow all the rules around people getting a break to eat meals or even go to the bathroom have disappeared. It is exhausting.

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  21. Absolutely brilliant, Robbie! You honed in on exactly how it is and where the problems are. I especially like how you wrote about your two boys and their very different learning styles, as that paints a clear picture. As a 70-year-old and a long time teacher, this was terrible. The big picture of learning Zoom and heavy researching was one thing; not being able to have one-on-one with my students was the most difficult of all. Children’s learning thrives when they’re amongst their peers and teacher, and that went away. I feel for the parents, most of whom are not as organized as you and don’t know how to be their child’s advocate and help them in their learning.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Jennie. I am always there to try and help my boys when I am able to help. The maths is a bit beyond me now. I have always helped extensively with English, history and we have a tutor to assist with the Afrikaans. I have come to appreciate how important the school environment is for effective learning for most kids, Jennie. I really hope our kids can go back to school soon.

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      1. You are welcome, Robbie. Hats off to you for all you are doing. Yes, the school environment is critical for effective learning. I really hope kids can go back to school soon, too!

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  22. Well written. There’s a reason why professionals teach though I don’t take anything away from homeschooling. One of the surprises over here has been when parents see the material being taught. It at times is surprising and the connection to the topic not always apparent.

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    1. I love the way things are taught now, Jacqui. Outcomes based education is amazing and I wish I had experienced it. I would have done much better at school if I hadn’t been bored to death aimlessly reciting multiplication tables and lists of spelling words. A real killer of the creative spirit.

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      1. ‘Outcomes based’–I’ll have to google that. I write a lot about different educational philosophies on my teacher blog but haven’t covered that one. I like the sound of it.

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      2. I have not researched it, Jacqui, but my understanding of outcomes based education is that the scholar is given the tools for example articles and information, in order to arrive at an interpretive answer. The scholars have to have access to internet, libraries and other sources of information for this method of learning to be successful, but it is very innovative and teachers kids to think. That is what it’s all about, especially now with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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  23. Thank you for this very interesting post, Robbie! Just from first hand very useful for other parents, and – i hope – for teachers too. Children/ pupils are not machines. Not everyone has the same skills, and to force them to learn by themselves is the great goal to reach. Remembering my own school time i really had a lot of difficulties writing texts. I had not really good teachers in German language. So I had only been able to learn the grammar of my mother tongue when I started with Latin, Greek and English, in high school!!

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    1. Hi Michael, teachers are very important and that fact is definitely highlighted with on-line learning. A computer, Google classroom and YouTube cannot replace a dedicated teacher and a classroom full of eager peers.

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  24. I admire teachers so much, I think it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. I taught piano one-to-one for a few years and I found it so stressful I had to stop!
    Well done you for getting your boys through their exams under such difficult circumstances – and congratulations to your boys for getting such good results.

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  25. Hi, Robbie! One of my sisters is a high school teacher, so I’ve always seen first hand the struggles they go through. I have a high respect for teachers. In my opinion, it takes a special person to be an effective teacher. I was lucky to have had some great teachers too. That being said, this situation would be extremely difficult for anyone. None of us has ever experienced what we’re undergoing now and had no way of preparing for it. Teachers are struggling more than ever because of the points you mentioned. Children are also struggling because suddenly things are so different. This has been difficult for parents as well because they had to become teachers and not everyone has the right qualities for the job. My sister is still working from home because the school she teaches at remains closed. She works night and day between teaching and preparing lessons, and she has three kids of her own. I know it’s got to be difficult for people like you who are parents and have to juggle working and homeschooling. I can’t think of a harder job. I’m happy you have a new appreciation for teachers. ❤ xo

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    1. I have always had regard for teachers, VAshti, but I feel that this current environment is particularly hard for teachers. When I work, I only have myself to worry about and my own deliverable. Teachers must worry about the deliverables of a whole class and the expectations of the parents too. Very tough. I hope this situation will change soon but I fear we still have a while to go in South AFrica.

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  26. Hi Robbie – this is a great post – we are in different parts of the world, but the problem of online instruction and learning is a universal one. Our school district just announced that the school year will begin online. For us, it’s not a huge problem, as our youngest son is in his last year before college and can work independently, but for parents of younger kids, especially the parents who work, it’s a big problem. How to work and oversee children at the same time – it’s impossible. Everyone wants to blame someone and the school district has received a lot of criticism, but there’s no way they can get that many students back in the classrooms. And teachers don’t want to be exposed. Our springtime online instruction was very unstructured and inconsistent and I think it will be different in the fall. The truth of it is, and it can already be seen in the return of professional sports, the minute you get people together, the virus is going to spread and until we get a handle on treatments and vaccines, we just have to make the best of things. Wishing you the best with your children and school – you are doing a great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Barbara. When our schools first close on 18 March, the on-line schooling for the rests of the first time, approximately, three weeks, wasn’t marvelous. The poor teachers had to adjust over a single weekend which was pretty impossible. The second term was much better with the teachers using the school holidays to get everything up and running much better. The schools closed this past Friday and the boys have a holiday of a month. We’ll see what happens next terms with on-line or physical tuition.

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      1. Yes, we will see. We have a son going back to college next week for on-campus, mostly online work. They will power through with no breaks and be home by Thanksgiving (November). Best wishes to you.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I don’t have children, but I happened to be in the middle of a teacher-training course when the lockdown hit, and just having to complete half of the required practice online came as a big shock, and even with the support of very experienced teachers and tutors it wasn’t easy, so I can only imagine what it must be like for teachers with little time or support to adapt their work, and for students who are suddenly thrown into a new way of working, like it or not. There are many schools who had been making inroads into e-learning, but not all families have the possibility to connect to the internet or the necessary hardware either, so it has put the whole education system to the test.
    You and your children have done a great job, and your explanation and encouragement will inspire others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Olga, I remember reading about your course and the fact it went on line half way through. For me it was not a problem at all transitioning to working at home as I’ve done it for years and my work is all done on a computer anyway. I realised quickly, however, that for many teachers, especially the slightly older ones, this has been a huge challenge. My older son is 17 1/2 and his year group have been helping some of their teachers overcome IT issues. It is quite interesting to watch the dynamic of the help going both ways in the new normal.

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  28. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    Parents and teachers are anxiously waiting as schools take steps on how to reopen. As a parent whose children have different learning styles, Robbie writes an excellent post on distance online learning at home. As a teacher, I know she is spot on. This is a must read for educators and parents.

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  29. Excellent post, Robbie. I can’t imagine what it’s like having kids in on-line classes. My youngest and I battled enough over nightly homework, but dealing with that all day for months at a time would be a nightmare. Kudos to you, Michael, and his teachers for tackling this and finding something that worked. Congrats to both your boys on their grades!

    What you mentioned about older teachers having to adapt is true. I’m in a book club with a few university professors and one of them had to tutor a couple others on how to use the online classrooms. Instead of utilizing them, she’d been sending each student over a hundred emails per week. No one realized the professor didn’t understand the program until the students complained.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. As a retired Headteacher I know that education is all about relationship – knowing the child, what inspires them, how to motivate them, to encourage, to drive, to make it fun and interesting and tailored to their
    needs. Not easy with a class of thirty for an hour at a time – maybe a couple of hundred different kids in any week. It takes a lot of organising, preparation and follow-up. But there are few more rewarding jobs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your insights. I agree, it sounds very rewarding although I don’t think I have the temperament for it. I manage to help my own children, but that is different to helping a lot of children. Teachers must be patient and positive as well as firm.

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  31. Great post, Robbie, in so many ways. Our schools aren’t opening, which I think is a good idea for the health of all involved (as cases of virus continue to rise in the US). But long-distance learning is challenging for everyone. My daughter as a parent and a teacher is finding both so hard. But we all do our best. During WWII, my mom didn’t have school for 4 years, and she turned out fine. With compassion and enthusiasm and kindness, we’ll get through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Diana, yes, we will get through this, but parents are going to have to work hard at helping their children to stay on top of the home learning. It is tough, but it has to be done. I am sorry your mum’s education was interrupted like that. Fortunately, my mom was always able to attend school as they lived in a small town away from a big city.

      Liked by 1 person

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