Home schooling should be embraced by parents; it’s the future – GP Taylor

THERE is a national obsession to keep schools open no matter what. It was only when the infection rate went ballistic that the sensible thing was done and classroom doors were finally closed to the majority of pupils several weeks too late.

Is home learning good for youngsters? Columnist GP Taylor poses the question.

From that moment, the doom mongers of Lockdown 3 were quick to predict that our nation’s children were being thrown on the educational scrap heap. The trouble is that politicians haven’t taken into consideration the resilience of our children. After all, did we write off the futures of millions of children whose education was severely disrupted during the Second World War?

This is something I have seen at first hand when my youngest daughter was taken ill at the age of nine with a serious medical condition. She had no regular schooling from then until the age of 16. When she was able to return to the classroom, I was staggered by her achievements in one year.

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Whereas, I was of the belief that her lack of formal lessons would be a drawback, my daughter turned the tables and has gone on to be quite a success in life and has made me very proud.

A Major debate is taking place about the safety of reopening schools.

For a number of children there is a positive side to being at home. Many will be having extended periods of time with their parents and carers and this is a very good thing. These times will not be forgotten. Others will be free from the pressure of school.

Some children find school a very stressful and worrying place, especially 
in secondary schools. Low level bullying is a common issue and is one that schools do not like to admit happens. Teenagers can be cruel and, having done book signings in schools, I have seen this at first hand.

Yes, I am fully aware that not being at school is a bad thing for a number of children and that some homes are not safe, but I would say that the majority of parents are committed to their child’s welfare and education.

One parent I have been speaking to this week told me that her nine-year-old daughter, who suffers from dyslexia, learnt to read and her attainment in English and Maths increased significantly during the first lockdown.

Should more be done to encourage home learning?

The child had been unable to tell the time or know the months of the year and in September, when school returned, knew them all. The parent said that sadly, since her daughter had returned to school her education had slipped back as she spent most of the time in class with her hand up waiting for someone to help her.

Going to school is not a one size fits all approach to learning and many children actually benefit from being taught at home, especially if they have special needs like dyslexia. However home learning does need a lot of commitment from parents – something some cannot or will not give.

Many parents are still working in non-essential jobs in order to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It is hard for people in this situation to provide the time to help their children. That is why the drive for remote learning is so important.

This last week, I have been privileged to see at first hand the resources provided to children by Ruswarp School just outside Whitby. The online lessons have been truly inspiring. They were presented in a very professional way, as good as anything you would see on television. Educational, attention- grabbing and informative, they certainly hit the mark with the young learner I shadowed for a day.

I was especially impressed, as it was obvious that the Government had not given schools a lot of time to prepare. Even so, what Ruswarp School managed to pull out of the hat was a remarkable achievement, one which the parent of the child I observed was very impressed with. The parent found it easy to support her child with the additional work and said that she had learnt a lot herself from home schooling – especially the fractions in maths.

If other schools have online lessons half as good as this, then I am sure the education of children is in safe hands. I realise that some children do not have willing parents or access to the internet on a regular basis. I was shocked to see an interview of a mother complaining that online learning got in the way of her using Facebook and talking to her friends.

What parents have to get a grip of is that this is a national crisis and old ways have to change. Being involved in your child’s education is a very good thing and will improve the quality of life for all involved. It is imperative that the Government does all it can to make sure that all children have access to a home computer and internet connection.

Covid isn’t going away anytime soon and remote learning may become an annual norm for children. Closed schools is something we are going to have to accept as variant strains outwit the vaccines. We shop, quiz, chat and party online, so why not educate our children as well?

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