Psychology, Psychology in the world

Life under lockdown: home schooling and other stresses

Dr Johanna Motzkau from the School brings her expertise as an academic and a psychologist to the realities of parenting under lockdown.

Our first week under lockdown was quite challenging. I found that no amount of the OU module production team management skills that I thought would get me through this seemed quite up to the task. I had it all planned out – Gant charts, timings, tasks and deadlines to get a toddler (two yesterday) and a hyperactive seven-year-old (now being home schooled) through the week. My son is very anxious as he does not trust us to get his schooling right, and he has a point 🙂

It all went pear shaped very quickly. My son lost a filling and got toothache on Wednesday, and while saying he may need an extraction, the dentist asserts that all they can offer now is telephone triage (clearly they are working from home then). The cat decided to almost die and needed the vet (she is very old but the timing was impeccable). The vet was much more organised than the dentist and did see her at once, and after some painkillers she is almost as good as new, so all is well. We are now considering whether to dress my son up as a large macaque and ask the vet to do the extraction

Amongst all this, we did do some work and some schooling. We had a violin lesson on Zoom, and even a toddlers’ birthday tea party via Zoom group chat, with dolls and soft toys being served tea all over the floor. That was very funny as they all talk at once – Zoom needs a toddler setting. And we are still all talking to each other* so not too bad.

*Even the cat turned a corner and now thrives on a diet of smoked mackerel and Greenland prawns (yes, our closest grocery store is a Waitrose, which brings its own problems, but at least empty shelves do not worry us as there is always some high end seafood to stockpile… ).

Homeschooling is interesting.

Day 1: We wait for them to email the materials but it takes until 11am for them to come through. All the mums on Whatsapp are beside themselves. We declared it an Inset day.

Day 2: Some of the links don’t work! What are they thinking? It is sooooo annoying when a link doesn’t work. We really can’t do any work today! Okay, there are some things we can do, but can’t they explain the tasks more clearly and make them simpler? After all we don’t have all day to get our heads around this as the child keeps wandering off. And Year Two maths is just a bit complicated.

Day 3: Ahh well. They have provided a sample answer for the story we were supposed to write so I guess it’s enough for us just to read through that!

Day 4: The website with the phonics play reading software seems to have crashed due to demand. My seven-year-old explains to me that Guided Reading means we spend 20 minutes looking at the pictures in the book! (This is just one of many surprises.) Also, Mental Maths involves sitting under the table solving the set problems using a bowl of raisins, as it is mental as long as no one sees you using small objects 🙂

Day 5: Due to toothache, we cannot proceed and will be watching ‘Paw Patrol’ for the rest of the week… we might have to ask for an extension.

Suddenly I realised that all the things that were annoying us most, like confusing instructions and links that don’t work, are exactly what our students always complain about. So, if only in that respect, it has been an educational week.

…and next time you get to an activity with a reveal… ah well, just read the reveal!


You can read about Johanna Motzkau’s research here



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