Bored of Home Schooling AKA Where's My Star Of The Week?

Anyone else bored of homeschooling? It’s not so much the effort it takes to persuade my daughters to sit down and focus on their work or even that my younger daughter apparently can’t write a letter unless I am standing next to her: I am bored of evidencing the work and trying to please the teachers.

Doctored Star of Week certificate to recognise Mummy effort
Well done me

While in some ways homeschooling of my daughters is very similar: they both have times they are enthusiastic and want to do it and other times the mere mention of their school work is enough to bring on a meltdown. The actual working process is very different though. 

Home learning with my 9 Year Old

My eldest daughter is in Year 4. Her class use Seesaw to set and submit work. When she is in the mood (or in a mood, but recognising the inevitability of needing to do it) she sits at the table with the iPad and gets on with it. We have some wobbles when she closes her mind to being able to do tasks that I know she is more than capable of. At these times I have to be there with her, guiding her through, but she mostly gets on with it herself. I check Seesaw occasionally to see the teachers feedback, but it’s largely all done by her.

Home learning with my 4 year old

My younger daughter is in Reception and our home learning is very different. Understandably because of her reading level I am the one who logs on to the system (in this case Tapestry). I check the work set for the day and save videos, links and photographs to the iPad so she can access them easily and when she can be persuaded to work we go through the tasks together. 

Each piece of work requires me to explain it to her. Some are short videos I can leave her to watch, but these 3 or 4 minute recordings for some reason aren’t as compulsive viewing as the random rubbish she insists on watching on YouTube Kids later in the day. Other pieces of work require my constant involvement, whether as a cheerleader or to teach her how to do something. I can sit next to her and we can talk through how to spell a particular word. She can sound it out correctly and I’ll walk 3 metres away into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea (anyone else become an addict of hot drinks just to give them something to do?) and when I return she will still be staring at the piece of paper, chewing the end of the pencil and  she wont have written a single letter down. I try and encourage her independent working (as much as is possible for a 4 year old) but my physical presence is required.

A 4 year old in a party dress doing some school work at a dining table with the Whatever Next book in front of her and some lego
As long as I can show she is doing the work it's enough

The additional challenge for the Reception work is that the burden is on me as her parent to evidence her work. I can manage a few photographs and videos of her looking studious and the outcome of her efforts. Increasingly I have bothered less about camera angles and the amount of mess in the background of these photographs. I have no interest in proving to the teacher I have a tidy home, do they even care?

At the end of each day these images need uploading to Tapestry. For the first 2 and a bit weeks I was making an effort (Reception closed the week before Christmas due to a positive case so we are now on week 4 of home learning). I was diligently writing how she had completed each activity making an effort to sound upbeat. Now I very much want to upload the images and a short message of “She did it”. Alternatively on some evenings I am tempted to write a thesis on how incredibly hard it was to get her to do anything so they better appreciate the output as minimal as it is.

And that’s the thing, it feels like my efforts are being assessed more than my child’s. Once the piece of work is completed my daughter moves on to something else. She isn’t interested in the feedback from her teachers the next day on a piece of work she has long forgotten. That isn’t to say the teachers feedback isn’t important though, any praise on the work is the positive feedback I need to keep going. I don’t really care if they are inwardly unimpressed that Little only wrote 3 words beginning with Z, what they don’t know is that took me over an hour to get her to do. The effort behind the output goes unseen and Tapestry doesn’t feel like the place to grumble.

The other reason I have lost motivation is the “Star of The Week” award. Despite her year in Nursery (which was cut short thanks to Covid) and her term in Reception Little has yet to win Star of The Week. Each week the teachers select someone from each class to win. The internet tells me (I’m far too lazy to count) that there are 39 school weeks a year. There are a maximum of 30 children in each class which means each child should win it at least once. Yes really these things should go to whoever has done best each week, but I suspect they share the praise out, finding reasons a different child has done well each time. Except at the moment this is really a case of how well the parent can evidence how wonderful their child is. 

I fully admit this was the reason behind my effort recording her work on the system initially, but clearly I didn’t do well enough. Little genuinely did work hard the first week back after Christmas, we did extra bits too to learn around the issue, but someone else did better. So now I’m bored of it. The adequate demonstrating she has done the work is an effort I can’t be bothered with so I’ll be hoping that a picture is worth a 1000 words and that it's safe to reopen the schools again soon.

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