Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘home-schooling

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 6

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I suppose it was inevitable. There was always going to be a bad day – and today was it. 

DS and I got through last week powered by the novelty of home-schooling, the joy of technologies newly discovered, the exhilarating freedom of video-chats and the excitement of swimming in our own pool after ‘school’ – not to mention the stern figure of DH working from home for the first time in his life.

But today it all went to pot. DH disappeared upstairs to work, and DS had to reach inside himself and yank out enough 11-year-old enthusiasm to get dressed, brush his teeth and start his maths lesson alone. 

It didn’t help that DD’s now on Easter holidays and prancing about in silk pyjamas eating waffles and making Tik Toks… DS, on the other hand, had to begin his day with a two-day maths project that he claimed not to know how to do, followed without a break by the continuation of the Shakespeare project. I mean… poor guy. The closest I get to liking Shakespeare is watching Upstart Crow.

So, I helped. But apparently not very well. We did the maths project: so far, so good but, during English, there may have been tears. There may have been a stand-off that led to sulking on the sofa. There may even have been both of the above – but, eventually, DS sidled back up to me and wrote three really rather good paragraphs straight off the cuff without any input. So, what on earth was that drama all about? Was your day any better?

Phrase of the day: ‘I just want to go back to school!’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer (DH is in charge of that)

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (different to anything I’ve read in a while)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder (‘the last book on screen-writing you’ll ever need’ – let’s hope!)

Anyone else watched it?

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 4

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DS has discovered Zoom. I’ve no idea what witchery this is and prefer to keep it that way, but Zoom appears to mean that my boy can fill his iPad screen with the happy little faces of his classmates and chat with them about all the things that fill their 11-year-old boots with joy. Fortnite, obviously, and what they want from the Item Shop, and Minecraft and Tik Tok and crushes and how boring the Shakespeare English project is, I imagine, not that I’ve been listening in. Not at all.

            And I have to admit, it appears to be a wonderful thing. They’ve had a little pet show where they’ve paraded their pets for each other; I think there may have been a dance-off involving Renegade (if you’re that way inclined, you can learn it here); I’ve heard rumours of a talent show… and today I found DS video-chatting with a girl in his class as they did their maths together. Props to the switched-on class mum who got them all interacting in these strange times. 

            But, of course, I’m not used to having a son videoconferencing at the dining table. Oh no I’m not. 

            ‘Mummy,’ DS said today as I pottered about the kitchen singing along to that self-isolating version of ‘I Will Survive’ that’s gone viral. ‘Mummy, you do know everyone can hear you?’ 

            So, of course I went over to say hello to DS’s friends. 

            ‘Hi!’ I said, waving happily from behind his head and doing a little dance move of my own. Tik-Tok-famous, here I come!

            ‘Who’s that?’ asked a lovely girl who’s in our house so often I sometimes think she might actually be my own daughter (she’s not).

            ‘It’s my mum,’ DS said in a resigned tone, and then I caught sight of my image on his screen: post-exercise hair, no make-up, dark eye bags accentuated by the dreadful angle, several more chins than I thought would ever be possible on a human face, and a strangely grey skin tone – I should be glad his friend didn’t associate that face with the, cough, ‘real’ me.

            ‘Enjoy maths!’ I chirped, diving off the screen as fast as I could while DS shook his head sadly at me.

            ‘Oh, Mummy,’ he said. ‘You’re really going to have to learn to stay away when I’m on a call.’

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, you’re good at English. Can you give me five ambitious conjunctions?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (not far to go now)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder 

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 2

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There was a certain calmness in the household today. DH was in charge of the morning alarm and, as I slapped him awake at 7.50am thinking we’d overslept by a couple of hours, he admitted he’d only set it for 8.00! Eight o’clock! 

Honestly, I can remember when we last woke at 8am on a school day – and, for sure, I had a lot more oestrogen and a lot less grey hair and back then. It was back when DD – now pretty much 15 – was two-and-a-half years old and still wearing twirly skirts and sparkly shoes (not Lelli-Kellys but that’s a whole different blog).

In fact, I’d thought her nursery teacher was pranking us when she suggested with a smile that we got the babies into nursery by 8am in order to prepare them for ‘big school’ which, over here, starts at 7.45am. I’d probably laughed and nudged her in the ribs – ‘Good one! Haha ha!’ – but no. There was no pranking and, ever since that dreadful day, we’ve been getting up at six. School holidays mean a lie-in till seven – so what in God’s name was DH thinking setting both the alarm and the coffee-maker for 8am? Oh, that’s right: he was Working From Home too. Ye gods, this COVID-19 has a lot to answer for.

DS was unfazed as we trundled down the stairs way later than usual. 

‘I can do my learning whenever I want,’ he said without looking up from his killing spree on Fortnite. ‘The stuff’s posted at 9.00 but I’ve got till 4.00 to do it, so…’ 

One shoulder shrugged in that annoying way Tweens have and, as I stood there looking at him, I realised that this was an Important Moment.

This, my friends, was a slippery slope and, I was teetering at the top of it, right at the start of Day 2.

It was a slope that could, by Thursday, result in DS spending the next sixty years, or however long we’re going to be socially isolating, lying on the sofa all day playing Fortnite and WWE wrestling and racing supercars on Forza whatever else Tweeny things he does, then bashing through his entire day’s curriculum in the frantic minutes between 3.50 and 4.00. 

I could see it happening. I could so see it happening. 

I pictured his teacher and tried to channel her no-nonsense approach. 

‘No,’ I said. ‘Maths, English, science and PE before lunch. Languages after. My way or the highway.’

And you know what… bar a ‘headache’ during Arabic, that’s exactly what happened.

Phrase of the day:

‘Can I have more V-Bucks?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (still).

The garden today. There are worse places to socially isolate.

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 1

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As someone who usually works from home in absolute silence, I’m finding it #interesting to have at home a 10-year-old (‘Leave me alone; I know what I’m doing’ / ‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy help!’) and a 14-year-old whose lessons from her school in the UK don’t begin till 1pm (‘Mummy. I’m going to make the whipped coffee off Tik Tok this morning… it’s fine, I know what I’m doing. Where’s the instant coffee? Where’s the whippy thing? Can you just film me doing this? Oh, and what’s for lunch?’).

Today DS was supposed to log in for a video chat from his teacher at 9am before starting lessons. We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this moment… but have we prepared? I’ll just say he’s a 10-year-old boy and park that there.

On the timetable: Maths, English, Social Studies, Spanish, PE, ‘optional tasks’ (the spirit shrivels – oh, how the spirit shrivels at the word ‘optional’) and 20 minutes of reading.

‘I’ll be ready at 8.50,’ DS said at 8.30, sprawled on the sofa with his Nintendo Switch glued to his face. He’s just made Level 70 of Fortnite, which meant he could get a new skin – the gaming equivalent of getting ‘Star of the Week’. I should have known not to tell him to get up and clean his teeth.

At 8.57am, DH buggered off to work before I even managed to say ‘Is that really necessary?’, and DS was still swanning about the world of Fortnite in his fancy new skin instead of sitting, poised, ready and logged-in, at the workstation I’d set up for him at the dining table.

There was shouting. I’ll own it.

But then something strange happened. DS logged in. Grouchily, he got out a book and burrowed about among the stale remnants of long deceased packed lunches that live at the bottom of his school bag to find a pencil. He did the maths. It was easy! He did the English. Even easier! He even did the extension! Glory be! This may actually work!

I wasn’t so lucky with my own work. While what I do is not ‘serious’ in the way that the work of, say, first responders, is, it does involve a lot of thinking. Thinking that usually gets done in silence but today was punctuated with: ‘Mummy, how do I upload it?’; ‘Mummy is this right? Mummy, why don’t you know? I thought you knew everything!’; ‘Mummy, look at my Shakespeare answers!’; ‘Mummy, how many kilometres in a mile? Can I have a snack?’

By 12pm, not only had my phone had pinged itself off the desk with a hailstorm of Seesaw updates from teachers and DS’s classmates but I’d developed a nervous twitch from DS appearing behind me in the door brandishing the iPad, then it was time for the daily PE video: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest; eight exercises; two rounds. I joined DS to do it in the family room… I’m fit. I managed. Better than the PE teacher, if I’m honest, but then she was doing it outdoors and I suppose it was quite warm…

So – Day 1 and I’d give us an 8/10 for success. But I fear for my own work still lying, undone, on my desk. I fear for the never-ending piles of house admin that constantly need attention; I’m nervous about the strange patch of damp that’s appeared on the ceiling above my desk; I fear for how distance-learning will continue when the novelty’s worn off – and I haven’t even dared remind DS he still has homework to do.

At the moment we’re reading:

DS: Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Me: Those People by Louise Candlish (it’s a great book but I warn you now, I’m a slow reader)

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy, go away!’

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The damp patch: not looking good, is it?