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Mandy Thomas (La Chât parent)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Mandy Thomas

In what year are your children at Ecolint?
Years 5, 7 and 9.

How has your everyday life changed since the lockdown was put into place?
Everything has changed. Five of us together in the house trying to find enough quiet space for my husband’s never ending calls and the kids being homeschooled. We’ve moved desks into the lounge and dining room so they are not isolated in bedrooms. I teach yoga and have moved my classes online and changed my class times so I can supervise online learning.
And of course with 5 people home the food shopping, cooking, cleaning etc is never-ending. We are sharing household chores including the deep house clean and bed-changing. My kids have certainly learned new skills - like how to clean a toilet - but not without some moaning! We have tried to insist on outside and exercise time and tried to limit screens but this gets increasingly difficult. In the last couple of weeks the kids have been seeing one or two friends outside  to try and increase their physical activity and give them at least a small social outlet.

What has been your greatest challenge as a parent during this time?
t's a long list but at the top is trying to support schooling without falling into the role of school police. It continues to be difficult and schoolwork sometimes becomes a bone of contention and somebody falls apart a bit. (Or perhaps it's just an excuse to fall apart a bit!) The other huge challenge is getting them to move and be physical. They all did 4-5 sport sessions per week plus PE and cycling to school before lockdown. It is so much less than that now, just when they need it the most and it is getting harder each day to motivate them. We’ve just come up with physical challenges with financial bonuses for the month of May!

What have you learned that you would like to see carried through beyond confinement?
In some ways I think we have all enjoyed the slower pace - less rushing around in general, although we desperately miss many of the things we normally rush to!  Getting into nature pretty much every day has been vital. We already did that regularly but with even more requirement to get out after all the time inside on screens - it has become a vital lifeline to our mental health and general sanity.  And we have appreciated the lack of cars and incredible birdsong.

What do you think about remote schooling, and are there parts of it that should continue after confinement?
I think school has done a great job - remarkable given the speed of the lockdown. But for us, the whole experience has highlighted the parts of physical school that can’t be replaced. The kids need each other. They need to play and touch and move physically. They need group activities. They need interactive learning (some subjects/ teachers have done this better than others) and someone checking in, supporting and holding them to account. And most of all, sitting on a screen all day is exhausting and is not positive for anyone's mental and physical health. At the end of the day there is a general malaise.
And this is when we miss organised physical activity the most. Receiving lessons online seems to make it easier to disengage, to not ask questions, to not finish the work, to do less rather than more. Perhaps we have found some new tools - like Razzkids in primary - and my kids are certainly managing online fora like seasoned executives. But I don’t want them to be like seasoned executives. They are kids! Overall I have seen the losses more than the gains. 

Any thoughts on how the pandemic might impact people's views on family life, teaching, and school? 
Despite the shared circumstance I do believe we are all experiencing things differently depending on our family situation and roles. The fear to re-engage in society right now surprises me. Although I’m not critical of that, given how many unknowns remain.
For our own family I think it has reinforced that at this age (especially 14 and 11) the kids should be out there exploring the world, developing their independence and learning with friends. Much as I love having them around and doing things together more, this has not been easy for them. It has firmly reminded us that school offers so much more than ‘just’ academic learning. And however well this is delivered at a distance the kids are missing all the other aspects of the experience. We are looking forward to the return in whatever shape it can take. 

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