Sydney parents reveal how they are coping with home school: 'A long day of muuuuums'

Photo: Scenes from home schools across Sydney. Supplied
Photo: Scenes from home schools across Sydney. Supplied 

If you're a parent deep in the trenches of home school right now, hang in there. 

We see you.

Please know that it is hard and you are doing an amazing job. Please know that it can feel a near-impossible feat managing a child's remote learning while also juggling your own work schedule.

Whether you have a kindy kid who can't sit still and is desperate to see their new friends, or teenagers who won't get out of bed, please know that you are definitely not alone. 

After a week of remote learning across NSW, many parents are already completely frazzled and burnt out.

As we stare down the barrell of at least another two weeks of lockdown, we decided to check in with some Sydney mums to see how they are coping so far. 

To have a moan, and a laugh, in solidarity, and reflect on the trials and tribulations of home school.

Shauna

"Home schooling to me is a long day of 'muuuuuummmmms'. 'Mum, I need help! Mum, I don't understand this. Mum, I can't do it. Muuuummmm, what does this mean?' As a single mum with my three kids full-time and a full time job it's a struggle with only one answer most of the time - google it.  

I'm not sure what my kids are learning but I' ll tell you what I have learnt is that I have no idea what a morpeheme, a grapheme or a  metaphome is. And don't get me started on year 4 maths, or year six PHDH.

My teenager.. well I'm not sure what he's doing, but he assures me all the other kids have Netflix on in the background while they are doing their work, and four days in – if it gives me enough peace and quiet to get my work done, I'm all for it."

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Photo: Shauna's daughter hard at work. Supplied

Photo: Shauna's daughter hard at work. Supplied

Kerri 

"Every morning, I have to ask my 16-year-old no less than five times to get out of bed. This goes on for about two hours. 

The other morning, when it was 10.30am, I finally cracked it. I went upstairs, said words I won't repeat here, then ripped his quilt and pillows off him. 

That got him out of bed and doing school work quick smart!"

Jane

"Home schooling with two small kids both under 10 during lockdown in a two-bed apartment is harder than I ever expected it to be.

But it's not the school work that's the problem, so much as trying to make that fit in while also doing a full-time job and having a partner who is in the same position. The hardest part is constantly trying to split your brain, or being pulled from one task to the other.

I feel like I'm not doing any one thing well. In addition, there's a bunch of new technology to learn and figure out to get the schoolwork uploaded and that's a whole different drama in itself. The kids are too young to do any of it autonomously right now, so I have to sit with them.

I'm lucky that I have a partner who does his fair share and we do it by turns – but we are both working late into the night to try and meet other commitments too.

Photo: Jane is teaching her boys 'life skill's to get through lockdown.

Photo: Jane is teaching her boys 'life skills' to get through lockdown.

The best thing I have found to get through it, is to really put aside anything else while I'm trying to help the kids. If I do that for a short amount of time it's better for us than a longer amount being distracted.

But it's hard to let go of the guilt.

Snack breaks are working to break the day up for us. And also realising that other parents are finding it just as hard – and harder.

And I leave maths to my partner, as it was NOT my forte at school and makes me anxious.

I also think expectations are higher this time and it's harder. Because we have done it before, people expect us to be ok with doing it again, even though home schooling and working from home is not normal and we were still recovering from the first time.

So the novelty has worn off, there is less leniency and people expect more this time (in all areas). Parents are going to burn out this time…. If we haven't already."

Jo

"My daughter, Caterina, is able to do her own homeschooling most of the time but she has been very emotional this time around.

She was already upset we had to cancel her birthday party and now she is missing her friends.

My son, Giovanni, has autism and is in a support unit. For this first week they are just focusing on the kids staying connected with their teacher and each other so their teacher organised for them to play Minecraft Education Edition together a couple of times a week.

They play it at school sometimes as well."

Photo: Jo's son playing an online game with friends

Christine

"This week I was introduced to Split Strategy. Never once had I come across this in my schooling life … and I was stumped. It took me a good 10 minutes to realise it's basically a long-winded way of doing additions and subtractions.

And during those 10 agonising minutes, I was met with sighs and eyerolls from my seven-year-old daughter, who was itching to do the task. To be fair, there have been plenty of sighs and eye rolls from my end, too. 

But perhaps the most memorable homeschooling moment came during the nightly prayer my daughter and I do before bed. After one trying day, she prayed to God for home schooling to come to an end. All I could say was, "Amen."

Lara 

"My kids are 14, 12 and 10 and they have slipped into home schooling well this time for a number of reasons.

Their age enables them to work independently (with little or no input from me), schools were much better prepared due to last year's experience and the kids knew what to expect. I also think schools are encouraging independent learning so that parents can focus on work and there is more group work so they can interact with each other. I can't imagine how hard it would be with little kids.

However on the down side, I have to really push my tweens/teens to get outside and do physical activity and they are missing their friends.

I have to add that the teachers are doing such an amazing job, going over and above what is expected to keep our kids engaged throughout the day."

Lisa*

"I'm a single mum with one daughter and feel like I am completely failing at home schooling.

I am a novice with technology and find myself shouting at her as she is falling so far behind. I feel really anxious and like I am letting her down as a mum.

I must admit I am very worried about how I will get through the next two weeks. I don't know how people do this with more than one child!"

Brooke

"Admitedly, I did want to crawl under a rock and hide when I was trying to have a video meeting with people outside my organisation and my six-year-old interrupted every two minutes to ask me facts about dinosaurs and bunnies for a project she was working on!

As much as I was embarrassed after it happened for what felt like the 368th time, I think most people are understanding that this is the new normal for a while and everyone is balancing the best they can.

I am coping by simply by not putting too much pressure on myself – and my daughter. "

Photo: A happy home schooler. Supplied

Danielle*

"Today was not a good day. My daughter's teacher is being much harder on her regarding the quality of her work. She was easier on her during the last Sydney lockdown when we were home schooling.

So my daughter is feeling a lot of pressure and not as much support because her teacher is online and I am working." 

 Alex

"My son hates it. I just tell him he needs to have a routine for his mental health. So he's required to work three hours from 9am to 12pm then he is free.

Eventually he does it. Not easy!"

Samantha

"My teenagers are great but primary, not so great. By the time I get home from work he has absolutely no interest in learning.

To top it off we wound up cutting our head yesterday and spent the night waiting to get his head glued!" 

Jordan

"We are doing okay thanks to my mum helping out. The school has done a really great job.

The hardest thing is the tech issues that crop up but the kids feel connected and cared for."

Pina

"I organised my kids their own time table. I work Monday to Wednesday so their activities are ones that they can do independently. Thursday and a Friday I sit down with them. Only two hours a day. I'm a primary teacher.

At the end of the day you do your best. Do as much or as little as you want. The well-being of your family is the most important thing. The kids will be fine."