Nothing

It’s nearly 1pm. I need to pinch myself. Is it really a school day. School at home day. So far absolutely nothing from school this week. No lesson material, no assigned work, no idea what the class is doing. Nothing. That’s three blank lessons so far.

It’s been that quiet we even checked to make sure we hadn’t got the dates wrong and school is on holiday. But no, it’s a full school day.

What shall I do Dad then….”

Well as we have no idea what his class was doing. No idea even what subjects the class was looking at. It’s a blank sheet of paper. A good chance for Hawklad to set the agenda. Take control of what he learns. So I said what any self respecting Dad would say.

Well Son you can go and wash my car……

No Dad. What school work shall I do.”

What one subject do you most want to learn about.

History, definitely history. Second World War.”

Ok spend the morning indulging yourself in the that. And when you finish. You can get off your backside, go outside and clean my car 😂😂😂

***********

And that’s what he did. He studied the Nuremberg War Trials. He so far hasn’t got round to cleaning my car. But here’s the problem. He’s taller than me so I can’t really put my foot down anymore. I might just have to do that job myself.

Road

Yes it’s another one of those massive, multi lane Yorkshire motorways.

We are a couple of weeks into the start of trying to help Hawklad build bridges back towards the wider world again. It started with us taking the mad dog for a walk at night. Nighttime as it would be quiet with no other people out and about. Small steps in breaking out of walls that surround our little house and garden. The isolation which started 15 months ago.

We quickly realised that actually it’s always pretty quiet here, not just at night. So we started going for the walk a little earlier. Now nearer 7pm. Guess what. We still hardly see another soul. Currently that’s perfect for Hawklad. Very rarely we see a farmer or another dog walker. When that happens Hawklad immediately turns on his heels and heads quickly home in the opposite direction.

The other thing is that Hawklad doesn’t like to walk on the path. Just doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. So we walk on the road. Our massive and very busy road….

Well you can see just how big our road is. Just how busy it really is can be gauged on one fact. We have been walking every night straight down the middle of the road. Not once have we encountered a vehicle. The road is ours….

That’s such a cool feel. Such a cool feel for both of us. I can concentrate fully on talking and in the quiet bits, on dreaming.

Leaning

A beautiful little leaning tree we pass on the dog walk… A favourite watering hole of a mad four legged one. No wonder it leans. It leans but it still has a purpose.

I was looking at an email sent from school setting out the upcoming year end exams. Day after day of exams. Often two a day. But what is the purpose. Whose purpose do they represent. Are they really Hawklad’s purpose. Apart from History, Geography, English and Maths, would he freely choose the other subjects. Would he put himself through these exams. Even with his favourite subjects, would he not focus on other areas rather than the predetermined ones set for him by the Government.

A Government Minister was waffling on about how our children should be focusing on this subject and that subject. They were doing too much of this and not enough of that…. Has he bothered to ask what the children want. He’s thinking about the purpose specified by the economy, not the purpose which necessarily the children would pick for themselves.

Ok I get the point of learning the basics but why should some out of touch numpty in London determine which subjects my child is taught. Determine which areas are looked at. Which textbooks are read. Set the teaching method. Determines how much religious education is taught. What art is studied. Basically setting everything…..

So whose purpose is this. Is it really Hawklad’s.

Surely he’s still not going on about emails….

Surely he can’t be still going on about work emails……yep those work emails often more about social nights out…..

Trips to pubs, meals out at restaurants. Even growing excitement for some to returning to nightclubs.

Each to their own…..

Since life changed for me these things seem like alien concepts to me. It’s been years since I’ve been to a pub, to sit down at a restaurant. Actually I don’t think that I’ve been a to nightclub this century… it’s that long that when I last went they were still called DISCOS…. My only social outings now are the occasional football match or rock concert.

Parenting, Aspergers Parenting, Bereavement, Single Parenting, Reduced size of the close family support network. These all contribute to a different social life. A struggle at first but not anymore. I’m relaxed about my changed social life.

So if you offered me a free pass out today. Definitely no pub. Definitely no nightclub. Probably no sit down at a restaurant. Actually probably no football now. Yes a concert would be fun. But this afternoon I would definitely take one option. Sat on a seafront, maybe sat on a beach. Tucking into a takeaway. Enjoying salty fish and chips. Thinking just how lucky I really am.

Can’t ignore it

Somethings you can ignore and other things you simply can’t. You can can’t ignore how you are feeling but it’s very easy to ignore how someone else is feeling. You can ignore the ‘do not enter sign’ but you can’t ignore the large, foaming at the mouth guard dogs stood behind the sign. You can ignore a bit of rain but you can’t ignore a thunder storm. Well it’s not easy to anyway….

Last night was a massive, noisy storm which went on much of the night. No chance for sleep until the storm blew itself out, sadly well after dawn.

Hawklad received two emails from the same teacher this week. Both saying effectively the same thing. The teacher couldn’t open the work files Hawklad had submitted this week. In addition the teacher moaned about where he had saved the files.

Ok….

Well here’s the issues which kinda made me reply in a slightly tetchy manner to this teacher. First of all these are the first communications Hawklad has had with this teacher in over a year. Secondly he is saving the files in the same way he does for all the other subjects. Thirdly Hawklad has been diligently saving all the work and homework for this teacher for over a year in exactly the same way, in exactly the same format and in exactly the same location – all in line with school instructions. Fourthly Hawklad has never had any feedback, marks or comments about any piece of work submitted to this teacher since a certain pandemic appeared. The only thing approaching feedback was a couple of random assessment numbers appearing on the quarterly school report. Numbers which unlike other subjects have never changed.

Call me cynical but I don’t think the teacher has looked at any of Hawklads work until this week. Ok class work may not always be marked but surely homework should be marked. Marked and feedback provided.

But I guess you can ignore some things.

Catch up

Can you believe it. 14 months of school at home. Just over half of that time has happened with most of his classmates back at school. Trying to maintain a remote link with his class was always going to be difficult. It can never be perfect. Especially when the Government’s attitude has been to try and force all children back into classrooms as soon as possible. Schools instructed to make it more difficult for children to work remotely. Schools and parents threatened with legal action if pupils are not back in the class. Our school wanted to offer a remote learning option. Wanted to change the school week with most pupils spending part of the school week, remote learning. Wanted to tailor education and create a better school working environment. Unfortunately that was not allowed so the remote learning option had to be largely turned off. That makes things much harder…..

Revision is supposed to start for the upcoming school year exams this week. No idea how they will work for Hawklad. But the individual subjects are now issuing revision guides. Indicating which pieces of school work have to be revisited and revised. In a couple of subjects there are no surprises – we have covered those areas, undertaken the work required. But then there are other subjects. Areas that the class have undertaken that Hawklad was not aware of. In a couple of subjects clearly large tracts of class work, entire areas have not been shared. Is it ok to call it revision when he’s visiting an area for the very first time.

It’s such a mixed bag. Yes a couple of subjects have exceeded expectations, Hawklad has done the entire teaching requirements. A couple have been kind of as expected, covered most areas but with gaps. And some subjects have gone so much worse than expected, with Hawklad being so far behind his classmates.

Surely in the modern world, with everything that technology has to offer in terms of keeping connected, surely my country should be so much better at remote learning. So much better at EDUCATION.

Transition

Have we transitioned to home schooling without thinking.

Another week of family lockdown. Another week of school at home. But things are changing. Increasing amounts of the school day being unsupported. Yes a couple of lessons still try to provide good teaching support but…… The other subjects provide support which is at best patchy and often not there at all.

So what are the scores on the school doors this week….

Lessons this week 20

4 lessons well supported

7 lessons providing a little support, enough to allow us to try and fill in the missing sections

9 lessons absolutely NO support, no idea what was done in the class, don’t even know which area the teacher looked at.

So the amount of classroom radio silence is creeping up every week. Some subjects have gone weeks without any feedback or guidance. Without support we are having to do our own thing. No idea if Hawklad is working on the same areas as his classmates in a range of subjects. So increasingly what he is learning is determined by him and his hapless dad, not be his teachers. That’s starting to feel like homeschooling. With no classroom return imminent, maybe we have transitioned to homeschooling by accident.

Dinner plate

That’s some dinner plate. Newly planted vegetable seeds. What to start with…..

It’s been one of those school at home days. Only one communication from a teacher about lessons today. That was ‘just revise’ for a test which is coming up. The other lessons it was just about trying to see what bits we could find on the online system and then trying to fill in the blanks. Which is quite apt as alongside the homeschooling I was also trying to get work done for the company that bizarrely likes to employ me. Apparently I’m a ‘valuable asset’. I’m sure that has been autocorrected at some stage from the original description.

Voluminous Ass….

Apt because today I was scratching my head at WORK and blankly trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. Yes definitely filling in the blanks. I can’t have been doing very well at either tasks as I ended up watching our garden pigeon and his dinner plate.

At least somebody knows what they are doing today….

Going round the bend

As part of the long process of helping Hawklad building bridges back to the wider world, we ventured out in the car. Further this time. In to the city. To get a take out burger.

All went well until we hit the city. More car, more people. Even though he was in the safety of the car he was on edge but willing to push on.

Finally we arrived at the burger place. You will know the one. It’s got some whopper burgers. The plan was Hawklad to stay in the car while I ventured out to get the takeout. As soon as I left the car Hawklad panicked. So plan B. The drive through. I’ve never tried one of those but they seem super cool in the movies.

We joined the queue of cars and and snaked our way towards the intercom. With excitement we finally made it to the marked intercom bay.

I started to patiently wait for the helpful voice.

Dad what are you waiting for.”

I’m waiting for the person to speak to me,

Dad you don’t wait you just say the order out. Come on Dad the cars behind will start to get annoyed”

####Pants so I blurted out the order. NOTHING. Is that it. Do I drive off now####

Dad they didn’t hear you, shout the order louder”

#### So I did, really loud this time. This time Hawklad got the giggles####

Dad you are a muppet”

####And suddenly the intercom whirled into life – ‘afternoon can I take your order’.####

I’m definitely going round the bend.

Nothing to see here

I was reading a news article about home schooling during the lockdown. A government politician was quoted as saying basically that all children needed to be in the classroom. No exceptions. Pupils discipline and grades had deteriorated during lockdown. Homeschooling could never work properly.

Ok so the last year must have a write off for Hawklad

Well let’s think about that…… Over the last year his grades have gone UP. So well that he was moved up sets. Look at his best subject. A year ago he could talk for days about British medieval history. He could name and describe every English monarch. He could talk well about Roman history. A year later he can still do that but now listen to him confidently talk American, European and Chinese history. Listen to him talk about recent world history, Classical Greek times…. you get the picture.

He’s expanded his knowledge on the animal kingdom.

He’s getting great marks now in English Literature. Macbeth, Animal Farm are well within his grasp.

A year ago we were fighting to get him support for his dyslexia. He needed assistance to read even the simplest text. A year at home and he hardly ever needs to ask for help with reading. He can do it himself. Yes he has to skip some words but now he can read articles on line. He can read books now. Slowly yes, but read definitely. 7 years of classroom teaching and he’s made the leap forward at HOME.

I’m no superman. No Yoda. No expert in teaching. Watch me look blankly in most subjects. I’m a bang average parent. Homeschooling has just suited Hawklad. He’s more relaxed. Can pace around. Can jump around subjects. Take breaks. Look at things he wants to. No pressure asking questions, no anxiety putting his have up in front of an overcrowded classroom. It just works for him.

Here’s the thing, the traditional classroom will suit some children. But not everyone. So why do THEY force all kids through the same hoops. Through the same moulds. Through the same exam routes. If the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that we need to cater for all children. One path just isn’t enough.