'It was a struggle - but I'm going to miss home schooling my kids'

Close up focus on thumbs up of little girl learning at home wear headphones use pc smiles looks at c

Nick admits that although home-schooling wasn't always easy, it did provide a window on how engaging it is to be a pupil at school in 2021 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

So Joni Mitchell was right after all - you don't know what you got 'til it's gone.

'It' being home-school which went this week with the abruptness of exiting a Zoom call by accidentally hitting the leave button when you were actually trying to unmute yourself.

I can't say at times it's been easy getting my children to do their work out of the classroom, but they could usually be persuaded with the lure of an orange KitKat and half an hour on their Nintendo Switch if they just applied themselves with the help of their parents.

Of course I'm so glad they are back at school where they should be, learning from the best, but part of me feels a tad sad that us parents just won't be as involved in their school work as we have been for the first nine weeks of this year.

We've had some great times learning about things I've long since forgotten about - the story of Theseus and the Minotaur and Icarus flying too close to the sun. I didn't have any reason to think about these stories for decades, but suddenly they were back on the agenda.

We've had the joy of learning times tables again and even played a game of treasure hunt, where the kids have to find an object beginning with a certain letter. It's what home-schooling was made for.

There is nothing I have enjoyed more than frantically searching for something beginning with 'L' and finding a lemon which I then launched at my son from across the house for him to catch and present in front of the laptop camera.

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Such was my admiration for the teacher's patience and ability to enthuse the wall of young minds before us on the computer screen twice a day, I had to tell her how brilliant she was when I saw her in the flesh for the first time in three months on Tuesday, and admit that I'd love to turn the clock back and to have been a pupil in her class.

Students raised up hands green chalk board in classroom

Hands up if you're missing home-schooling? Nick admits it did brighten up the first two months of the year - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I remember with a touch of sadness how it was when I was eight. Most of the teachers seemed really old, they wore formal outfits and one of them even smoked like a trooper during lessons.

She had an ashtray of cigarette butts sitting on her desk at just the right height for us pupils to be greeted with if we dared approach her and ask a question.

It was as inviting and welcoming as the smoker's cough she would let out to puncture the quietness of the classroom, which we were ordered to keep.

There was no banter or casual chat. We were told to listen, do our work and keep our heads down..

How different it is today with teachers only just a generation older than their young pupils.

They share similar cultural references, they play the same video games, watch the same telly, read the same books. I can't imagine doing any of this with my teachers.

I have to admit that through the dark grim lockdown months of January and February when I hardly saw anyone else socially, the twice-daily Zoom calls with school and looking over my son's shoulder at all those smiling faces did cheer me up.

And now they've returned to school and slipped back into the schedule of being in a classroom with consummate ease, which is fantastic.

They realise that the combination of seeing your pals, playing sport, being quizzed on things and enjoying learning about new subjects is the perfect way to spend your days - and if you think about it, it's also the kind of thing most adults end up doing in their spare time when they are older.

Of course I hope we never have to go through home-schooling again, but just for those couple of months, it did provide a brilliant window on the education world of 2021.

Now it's back to the mysterious world of school where feedback on how their day went can only been described as minimal - and that's feedback straight from the horse's mouth.

I was no different though, I think I managed to conduct the same chat with my parents after school for the entire decade of the 1980s:

"How was school?"


"What did you do today?"

"Not much."

Motherly love: I turn 46 on Tuesday,  still clinging on to added time at the end of the first half - just about!

Being a mid-March baby, my birthday usually falls close to Mother's Day.

This week we had some interesting stats from the ONS on how women and mothers have struggled with life during lockdown and my fellow columnist Rachel Moore wrote an excellent article about how we need to understand the mental health of of women and mothers more.

I hope all mothers are spoilt a little tomorrow for the job you do is amazing. I know that rings true with all the women in my family.

My birthday has only fallen on Mother's Day once and I love the fact that it happened on the day I was born.