Schools are back on Monday so after almost a year, if things go well, Maddy and I have finished home schooling on Skype.
Looking back on the experience, it’s been a mixed bag. Some of it has been lifesaving for me, and probably for Maddy’s parents. In the first few months of lockdown, way back in March 2020 having to teach a lesson at 10am got me out of bed, showered and breakfasted. It gave a structure to my day which otherwise would have ambled and shambled down a rapidly depressing path.
Once I’d got into a routine, other things clicked in too. Because Maddy became an expert at diversionary tactics with visits to the loo, drinks of water, snacks and the “Granny let me show you…” line I had to retaliate with bribery and some strictness to keep her working. If she did what was required in the lesson, then we had story time, out of which came “The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia.” The third book I published last year and which because Maddy and I had worked on it together, was a total joy to write. Confession time here, all the funny bits, except for the bicycle in Chapter One, are hers.
So far so good. Maddy learned stuff and so did I. Thanks to her I can use gifs, screen share and take a screen shot. She can use Word and write stories on the laptop. We both have a more or less adequate knowledge of modal verbs, fronted adverbials and expanded noun clauses. At least I have. Maddy knows them all. She’s also a whizz with the apostrophe, but I can’t take any credit for that because she was proficient before our lessons started.
If all this sounds great, it was, mostly. The problem was with the lessons from the school. I have every sympathy with the teachers who had to put them together with very little training or preparation, but there were times when both Maddy and I had had enough.
The worst was one morning when the lesson, what it was I have expunged from memory, was so dire that I actually gave in and suggested we gave up as what we were doing was so awful I could scream. Maddy however refused to be daunted. She said we should finish but “Then Granny you get a pillow and I’ll get one too and we’ll scream together.”
We screamed, we learned, we laughed and we wrote a book. While I won’t miss setting the alarm for 7am, or the lesson preparation which demanded I teach in ways that are totally opposed to my philosophy of teaching and learning, I will miss spending time with my lovely talented granddaughter.