The Coronavirus has changed our lives in so many ways we are yet to fully comprehend. From a regular routine of work, home, dinner, concerts, socializing and entertainment we had found ourselves isolated. We became physically far from loved ones, friends and family members as every contact is considered a potential life-risking hazard.
And then when we renewed the Netflix membership and canceled the gym one, came the real “bomb”. It came in a shape of an innocent press conference from the Dutch government, regarding the new lockdown Coronavirus rules, which left us parents in a shock; in his usual one expression face (serious) the prime minister, Mark Rutte, announced to the nation that schools shall be closed until further notice.
Now read it again and imagine the heart bit in each and every household wherein the parents are working full time.
Well, to be accurate the schools remain almost completely closed with some exceptions. The only ones who could still send their kids to school were the emergency key workers (doctors, nurses, police, teachers etc) and also partially kids who needed extra special help in school. The other parents received an on-line school program to follow which includes also video chats with the teachers, chats with class members, homework, and different assignments.
As a mother to a child (8 yo) in a primary school in Amsterdam my emotions were mixed. On the one hand, my freedom was limited and my duties got upgraded to the new teacher at home. On the other hand, if life gives you lemons try to make a hell out of a good cocktail in a historic period wherein all bars are corona measured closed. And with extra vodka please.
But putting healthy drinking habits aside, the corona lockdown seemed to be a blessing in disguise. Before the lockdown my son went to a class of 25 kids with one teacher “meester”. The school goes by the Montessori educational method, meaning that the kids are supposed to be instructed by the teacher, but mainly working on their own. The students are sitting in groups of 6 in each class. The teacher has to divide his time with all kids and each student needs to have the self-discipline to choose himself and finish assignments. For some kids, the task to concentrate for a long time in a class with 25 other individuals can be challenging for different reasons. Also for my child.
So here at homeschooling, I found myself a single multi-tasking mom, with a notebook in one hand, starting a computer with the other, calculating numbers in my head (I’m not really good with numbers therefore I’m a writer), and forgetting to drink my (now cold) coffee for the 4th time in a day.
However, after a few days of adjustments my son’s schoolwork achievements started to rise. From finishing 3 tasks a day he started to finish 6 and sometimes 10 tasks per day. After one week we received 2 extra days at school itself instead of a full week at home. So we spend 3 days homeschooling and 2 days at the actual school in a smaller class with children of all groups 1-8. At school my kid started to flourish and also went better socially, better with discipline and also with the school tasks. We went like that for a month.
I discovered that the combination of homeschooling and 2 days at the normal school are quite remarkable. My son gets to socialize with other kids and be in a learning structure environment, and at homeschooling he gets one-on-one attention from me that boosts his studies. The lockdown had also helped us bonding more, talking and do things we normally never had time to do. I wonder if other parents have experienced the same? Maybe an idea for the future educational system and to “think out of the box” is to examine if such an educational method can operatively exist.
On Monday the primary school children will be back to full time at school again. If Corona is here to stay, which I hope otherwise but who knows, then maybe such a learning system can minimize spreading of the virus while still keeping the option of socializing with other kids. For parents working from home due to Corona or career-wise it can also be ideal. For us I know that Corona was a new educational experience in the broader meaning of the term, and still is.