There is a group in the hybrid home school phenomenon who are being largely mentioned but, I’m not sure if they are receiving the support they need.
The *new* Work-From-Home-School-From-Home parents.
The assumption seems to be that Work-From-Home parents are using all of those “how to work from home” tips that have miraculously appeared on Google and are adjusting just dandy to the new normal.
But I don’t think that’s the case at all. I call BS on the harmonious timeshare arrangements on the kitchen table, a quick batch of cupcakes for morning tea and a gallery-inspired artwork after lunch as both parents and children shift to live remotely from their usual place of work or school.
Maybe I’m missing something? Is it just happily ever after?
Being a parent who works outside the home is often stressful enough without bringing work home at short notice. The ‘Supermum” or “Superdad” “handle it all” pressure just got amplified ten-fold. Add School from Home, and I think Work-Life balance just got shot to Mars.
Am I making assumptions? Or is there a conversation about privilege, equity and expectation that is going unspoken in my social media channels?
I admit that I am a believer in letting kids be kids and not recreating ‘school’ at home. I am an encouraging of up-skilling our children to be independent thinkers and self-directed learners (even if that same ethos has me pulling my hair out as my own independent, self-directed learners drive me batty). That is my privilege. I have the time, the resources and the pedagogical insight to approach our Home Education journey in that fashion.
I don’t need to Zoom into a meeting with stakeholders or, try to take a call with a Human Resources boffin about my past and (maybe) future performance. Nor do I have a hundred new emails before morning tea that are demanding my attention now, before the close of business, yesterday even.
That is my privilege.
Our home has the room to have a designated learning space, 24/7. My expectation of cleanliness and order matches my ambivert personality. Some parts of the house are ‘everything in its place and a place for everything’. Others, ‘That’ll do”. I’m not on the hop setting up a home office plus learning spaces for kids who have different needs.
We have WIFI, and we’re used to the vagaries of its dropouts. We have enough pieces of hardware for everyone to access digital platforms as they wish along with subscriptions to music and more. We have bookshelves of books and games and educational resources. We chose to make our home a place where learning can happen at any time.
That is my privilege.
Right now, some families do not share my privilege of time and resources. That does not mean that they have less. They did not choose to work AND home school, their families in the same space. They are not getting the airplay and acknowledgement that navigating this upheaval deserves.
Everyone is traversing new ground.
A common theme that I am uncomfortable with is the assumption that families can and will, access education online. This expectation is unfair to families and schools for that matter. “Schools will move to online delivery” has been a common phrase in the last month. The digital divide is gaping when a family does not have hardware for all family members or, their metered internet plan has runout by day 10 of 30. Different homes, different family structures, different stressors all competing for space at the dining table.
The unchartered territory sees staff and students on a precipitous learning curve adapting to provide and engage with such broad stroke online programs. Let alone delivery to infants students. Have you ever taken an ICT class with Kinder or Year Ones? I have. It’s like herding bumblebees in a spring garden! Fabulously busy organised chaos.
So comes the question of educational expectation. I must reiterate, I take a more relaxed approach to timetabling my day. But for those holding down a job from a makeshift office in the corner of the lounge room, these parents need their kids quiet and self-contained. Yet, to expect that these kids are “set and forget” and able to self-direct and troubleshoot for the equivalence of a five and a half hour school day, it could just be a bridge too far even with strong school supports in place. Those parents are set up to go headfirst into the “I’m bored”, “She’s breathing my air”, “I’m finished”, “What can I do now?” vortex. Those are the parents that I’m worried about.
There are tonnes of resources floating around the interweb with much better graphic design that I can come up with if you need timetables, independent projects, worksheets or, pick n’ mix activity matrixes. There are fabulous livestreams, audiobooks, interactive games and classes available. Oh, that’s right if you have the digital capabilities.
I don’t have the answers. I wish that I did.
I want the working parents in my life who read this to know that I have no idea how you’re doing it. If I can help, sing out.
And know that if the ‘school day is going to sh*t and you are considering locking the fruits of your loins on the verandah…It’s normal.
Do one thing first (other than making a coffee, that goes without saying).
Focus on getting your work done and being a parent.
As difficult as it may be, let the unwanted title of “home school mum” go. Trust me. It gets you nowhere if it’s on your resume anyway.