By now, many of us parents around Australia have homeschooled our kids.
As the pandemic lingers here in Victoria, we're in the unenviable position of having schools close once again. And so, we're back in the ring of homeschooling for another round.
Homeschooling Version One was about following the rules. When it was announced, I set a schedule for my kids: they set their alarms each morning, had breakfast together and ate at pre-determined snack and lunch times – this was mostly to avoid having an endless stream of mess through the kitchen.
They did nearly all the school work assigned to them. The only exception was PE classes. While the kids had plenty of active time, I ruled out PE classes; I didn't spend my own school years trying to get out of PE only to have it happen under my own roof. No, thanks.
A great chunk of my time was spent as an emotional support person, with one of my kids experiencing a whole stack of trouble adjusting to the situation.
Much to our dismay, here we are again. But the second time around, the picture looks very different.
As I write this, my two children are still in their pyjamas. They're sitting by the fire, saying silly stuff to each other and giggling, listening to a podcast, and eating a second breakfast.
Yesterday we went for a local bushwalk (this is allowed in regional Victoria) and they read the information signs along the way. I'm calling this geography and history.
They've been reading their way through the stack of books I panic borrowed on the last day the library was open – so reading time is covered.
One has become pen pals with a school friend she won't see again for a while, so that's a writing task covered.
The other requested a Sudoku book last time we were at the shops, which she's been puzzling her way through during the evenings, so there's some maths.
They did some of their set school work in between, too, for a couple of hours here and there. It's enough to keep their teachers happy, but then again they seem happy to have the kids' mental health be OK through all this, whatever that takes.
I guess you could call it unschooling. One of my kids calls it "school holidays with a bit of homework".
Whatever it is, homeschooling is very different this time around – and a lot of my friends say they're approaching it similarly.
By this stage of the pandemic and the lockdowns, we're all exhausted – kids included. This round of home school is about getting through, maintaining some mental health, and maybe even enjoying the benefits of not having to stick to a school timetable.
For those of us with kids who are still in primary school, many of us can see that they'll learn naturally as the days roll by.
They'll learn things that they wouldn't learn at school: bits about their local area as they go for walks, baking, connecting with siblings, a love of long hours of reading, finding things to do outside, and how to take care of themselves with a bit of relaxation time.
And they'll be okay.