I’ve held back on posting this for several weeks because I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.
There is a (big) part of me that is embarrassed, a part that is worried, but another part of me that is (quietly) proud and also a little amused.
Well, I’ve had time to think about it now and am ready to share.
Let me start by taking you back to the start of last year. 2020, remember it? You might want to erase it from your mind, but it most definitely happened. Back in March 2020 here in he UK, the coronavirus pandemic was ripping through the country and the world as a whole. That was when our government decided the best thing to do was to lock down the country, keeping most people off work and children off school. I don’t want to argue about that, as I think it was absolutely the right thing to do to prevent further spread of the virus and protect the lives of teachers. Work was posted on line for all students to complete every day.
My son is in year 11 (year 10 at the time) getting ready to sit his GCSEs this year, so doing the work was important, even though he was receiving no face to face teaching.
Read on for the embarrassing / fun bit.
He struggled to motivate himself for the first 4 weeks and as a result, fell significantly behind in his school work. Once this was pointed out to me by a helpful teacher’s email, giving me a friendly nudge, me and my son created a schedule that he would have to stick to. It included getting up every day before 1pm (!), we managed to settle on 9.30am starts. Next, him and me would sit together and look at what work was expected of him that day / week and then look together at some of the problems he might need help with, which were mostly maths related. Luckily, I’m okay with maths even though I would usually spend the night before brushing up on my knowledge of the next day’s problems using the mighty BBC Bitesize revision guides.
We would work together each day up until about 2pm at which point he would sit (where I could see him) and complete the work.
That went on successfully all the way through to September 2020 at which point schools were reopened and he went back for 1 day a week. That eventually moved to back full-time by mid October.
In November, the children were asked to sit mock exams, hard enough at the best of times, doubly hard if you’ve not seen a real teacher for months.
I tried my best to help him with as many of his subjects as possible, and in doing so, rediscovered my understanding of quadratic equations and picked up some physics knowledge as well!
But I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, plus the few lessons he did have after the summer break were often interrupted by having teachers off, self isolating, and lessons being delivered by substitute teachers who often didn’t know the subject or what they were studying.
This only became evident to me two or three weeks ago when I received an email from his chemistry teacher. She sent me images of his mock exam paper. The first image had me worried:
Okay, so he struggled on those questions. The rest of the paper must be okay, right? Wrong.
This is where my dilemma started. When I sat down with him and showed him that I had been sent these, I was upset and explained that this was not acceptable and that I would gladly sit with him and go through these questions and help with his revision.
But deep down, I was also very amused.
I think the way he depicted the runners on the track was very creative as well as amusing, and the car going up and down the graph similarly so. Finally, what made me most proud, was the final page. It shows that he listens to me and gets a lot out of our conversations.
Even his answer on his CHEMISTRY test paper was to extol the virtues of John Carpenter’s classic 1982 remake of The Thing, and he gives his reasoning behind why he believes Childs is actually the Thing at the end of the movie (I disagree):
His writing is a bit messy (pushed for time, I guess), so let me type it for you:
Right, so I’m gonna make the assumption that you’ve seen “The Thing.” Not The Fantastic 4 Thing, but the movie where there’s like an alien, but they don’t know who the alien is, and they gotta figure out who it is and kill ’em.
If you haven’t seen The Thing, OMG please watch it, It’s incredible. Right, If you haven’t watched it, too late, I’m spoiling it. So at the end, right when the only two that remain are Giles (Childs) and MacReady, which one do you think, if anyone, is the alien, or maybe they’re both the alien? I’m firmly on the side that Giles (Childs) is an alien. My dad seems to think he’s not, but the way Giles (Childs) talks at the end, and his actions, makes him seem like an alien. It’s highly plausible that this is the case.
However, a little earlier in the movie MacReady’s clothes can be seen scattered on the floor, a sign that you’ve been killed and taken over. However, the alien is smart and I think that was a ploy to make them think MacReady is an alien, which it does, but in reality the movie finished….[remaining text cannot be seen]
My son is doing okay at school. His predicted grades are As and Bs for most subjects, so this was way out of left field. I know the lockdowns (because we are back in another one) have been hard on a 16 year old who can’t go out to meet his friends or see his girlfriend.
When you’re 16, a year is over 6% of your life, which is a lot. These grades will shape how his next few years go; he needs certain grades to study his A levels, which will in turn, impact his university options.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be in lockdown, I’m just suggesting we should cut our children some slack.
On a side note, my daughter is in her 3rd year of a degree, studying German. She is supposed to be working in Germany for a year. She’s in Germany, but like the UK, they are also in lockdown, so she’s missing out on all the fun of being abroad on her own for the first time.
My question to you:
How are you coping in lockdown?