For most working parents in Scotland, today marks the first day of home schooling in 2021!

We got a taste of this for a few months last year so we should know what to expect!  Fortunately for me, my wife is the one who oversees the home schooling on most days – it will be a bit different this time as Harry is now in S1 and the last time was at the end of P7.

Although I wasn’t having to take the lead on the home schooling the last time, I was in the house and felt the stress and pressure this caused, and from working with a number of our clients, could see the pressure this was putting on working parents from all angles.

There seemed to be an expectation that parents had to ensure their kids were online from 9am to 3pm (ish) doing school work.  This was pressure we put on ourselves.  The last time, we all made the effort to do the daily walk – the weather was good, and today is a typical January Monday so the incentive to get out is not the same.

If you’re a working parent, It’s not possible for you to do your best work at home and oversee your children at the same time doing their school work.  Here are some things that should hopefully help:

Furlough/Flexible Furlough

You could approach your employer and request to be furloughed or flexibly furloughed.  This would allow you to focus on spending time at home supporting home learning and work different hours.  Your employer is not obliged to agree to your request, but should consider it.  When making such a request, it would be helpful for you to have a plan or solution that could suit both parties.

Flexible Working

Could you do different hours and speak to your employer?   Another thing to think about is don’t feel under pressure for the school work to be done during normal school hours – if you need to do some things early evening, or weekends, that’s fine too.

Teaching

Remember, we’re not teachers.  Don’t put yourself under this pressure.  I caught something on the TV over the weekend where a teacher had said the best environment to learn was where it was fun and enjoyable.  Try and make the atmosphere at home as relaxed and as enjoyable as you can.

Wellbeing

Joe Wicks is back!  He’s live on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Your children’s wellbeing is important, and so is your own.  Could you do this together?  You don’t need to do the live session, you can fit this in whenever suits you.

There’s loads of alternatives to Joe Wicks on Youtube – and if you have a Fitbit, they have some great options you can cast to a TV or device.

Getting outdoors for a walk too and some fresh air is encouraged.

BBC

The BBC is pulling together some educational resources which can be accessed on the TV rather than online – this is helpful where children don’t have access to a laptop.  You can find out more here  and here

Books

Encourage reading.  If you need to get on with some work, this could break up an hour or so, this could be a good way for you to do so.

Alternatives

There’s some good educational TV programmes.  If you need to get on with some work, this could break up an hour or so – look at programmes your kids could watch, and then perhaps ask them to write a brief report on this for you.  A good way to check their learning, and they still work on their writing and spelling.

There’s some free stuff on Youtube, and if you’re a Netflix subscriber they have some good content too.  One we’re encouraging to watch in our house is Our Planet

Timetable/Plan

Why not create a plan/timetable for the week, built around your own work commitments?  This gives you clarity and your children are used to structure too – this will make things a bit less frantic and you could agree the plan together, rather than imposing this on your kids.

Employers

Please be mindful that your employees are trying to juggle work and home schooling.  Check in with your employees and see what support they need from you.  Be flexible, accommodating and listen to their concerns.  Can the work be done at a different time and is furlough or flexible furlough an option?

Finally

Don’t panic!  Talk to your children about their learning, don’t beat yourself up – it’s not forever and take time to look after you too!  We’re not school teachers so don’t try – we can only do our best.