As Australia faced its first day of official online education today, disaster befell multiple families as Queensland Education’s online education websites crashed.
This happened in our house too – happily Year 6 kicked into gear after several attempts. But even if it hadn’t, it would have been ok.
As parents we worry so much. And we try so hard. When all we really need to do is relax and enjoy. And clean up a lot.
As the nation’s sheltering parents dive into their first day of official homeschooling the collective need to succeed is palpable, and I am reminded that Love matters. Not a forced, performance based love, but the kind that endures. This kind is unplanned, and leaves no short term sense of gratification. It is the kind that is likely to result in a headache for parents, and as such is the most sacrificial; it makes the most mess, holds more meaning than the best curriculum, and creates a lasting skillset.
It’s not that home schooling at this time doesn’t matter. It does, but it needs to be put into perspective, and held up against what our children will take away from the lockdown experience. Curriculum harried parents need to remember this. Find the love amongst the maths, and realise that real life is often the best teacher.
Take cooking for example. What child isn’t keen for the amazing scents, science and texture of the kitchen? As a parent of nine I cannot be more emphatic that all children need to learn to crack eggs. The sooner the better. They need to watch the whites form stiff peaks when whisked, experience the epic fail when a greasy bowl prevents this happening, and learn the science of why. Syrup also needs to be measured by the sticky, overflowing cupful for gingerbread and coconut needs to be stirred into Anzac Biscuits. Before your child can stir is the best time for this. The resistance provided by a stiff Anzac biscuit mixture is the best teacher for spoon control. Brace for a floury mixture of oats and coconut to fly from the bowl. Then gently teach the skill of wiping bench mess carefully into a cloth rather than swooshing it to the floor.
Older children struggling with fractions benefit from the chaos when a measuring cup goes missing and they finally understand that two quarter cup measures will fill in nicely for the missing half cup measure.
So when curriculum fails the test of real life, and the server crashes, make pikelets.
Helen Anderson is a mother of nine and lives in rural Australia.