Homeschooling: from Harry Potter projects to motivating teens

We’ve been homeschooling this week and it’s harder than anticipated. Not so much doing sums  with the 9 year old, but motivating the teenagers…


The kids have been off school since Thursday. Daughter three’s school was closed to all but year 11 from Wednesday, but only son’s and daughter two’s were open all week. The only thing was that most of the students weren’t there. There were 500 absences at daughter two’s school and quite a lot of teachers and only son said only around a third of his fellow students turned up on Wednesday. Having complained every day for the last few years about going into school, he was asking to go back after around two hours of ‘homeschooling’.

He did a few long division sums, wrote a brochure for Hogwarts and was ready for lunch by 11.30. He seems to be okay about homeschooling, but only if it is limited to the subjects he likes…

Meanwhile, daughters two and three were impossible to wake up until midday. Daughter three did a bit of work in her bed. Daughter three got up late, watched Harry Potter and Scream 3 and told me that she felt that meant she had done her sociology work for the day. Today she is claiming that  listening to K-pop is equivalent to religious studies.

I had thought that teaching younger kids was going to be the hard part of homeschooling. I’m now reassessing. Motivating teenagers to leave their beds is much more difficult. “What’s the point?” said daughter two. Followed by: “I think I’m going to combust if I have to do this for much longer.” That was around one hour into the first day of homeschool. Her main concern has been the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest.

I have decided to devote the entire weekend to working out some sort of routine so they get up, get some exercise [group  yoga/Just Dance/skipping?], do something productive that gives them some sense of achievement [whatever that might be] and do it while enabling me to have some time to do some work because a flexible working site for parents is slightly busy at the current time.

My partner is on food production and he has locked down the kitchen because homeschoolers think they can eat all day and the food is going to have to be rationed, given current supermarket mayhem.

I’ve spoken to the kids about using this time to do a project or explore something they are really interested in, for instance, only son is tech crazy. Maybe he could learn how to repurpose computers and save his family a lot of money in the process?

We’re also still in the depths of bereavement, coming to terms with daughter one’s death, which still seems unreal even as I type it. The unreality of the situation has been compounded by coronavirus. It really does feel like we are in a parallel world. And social distancing means that the people who could provide some comfort – friends, family, bereavement counsellors, etc – are only available on the phone or Skype, which is not the same.

Maybe this is the time to be together as a family more and create a film or a book or something about daughter one – or maybe it is still too soon.

Each day seems like a mountain and there are chasms along the way that you have to pull yourself back from or you could fall down, down, down and never get up again.

So routine, some sort of sense of keeping going amid everything, is vitally important – as is just putting one foot in front of the other and not thinking past the next day or hour – something younger children are really, really good at. What this and the coronavirus shows us is the need to look out for each other, to lift each other up when we fall and to get through to the next day some way or another.

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