By Stephanie Richardson - 7th April 2020 6:08am
Home Schooling Week Two — A Nature Walk.
If you had asked any parent what the hardest part of battling a global pandemic was, it would be quarantine with their kids. Twenty five years from now children everywhere will be saying 'I remember the Spring of 2020, that's when I learned how much alcohol it takes to be a parent'.
It's hard to keep calm in the face of all this bubbling hysteria, and now, for parents, that hysteria is sprouting little baby micro-panics pertaining to the logistics of the thing they're all really most afraid of — home schooling.
In the unlikely event that your child has survived week one of my home schooling advice, it is imperative that you do not inform them that the clocks have gone forward. This will ensure that they awaken refreshed at one o'clock, enabling you to watch 'Loose Women' without disturbance.
As they spend so much time in bed, it is important that they up their vitamin D levels. This gives you a choice, either get them some tablets from Boots or take them out for an exhilarating nature walk.
Your child will learn that exercise is better, and cheaper, than popping pills.
Having opted for the latter, dress your child warmly, a Liverpool football outfit will do, and fill a thermos flask with hot chocolate for yourself. Throw in a packet of digestives as you may have forgotten to feed your child lunch in all the excitement. This is also an opportunity for you to put on your new Joules jacket, which you bought at a bargain price because Joules is desperate, and you want to keep them in business.
Your child will learn that their parent is always thinking of others.
On a beautiful Spring day, your child should happily hop, skip and jump — daily exercise — as you perambulate gaily along the canal together. You will be pointing out a variety of wild flowers to your child. Always use their Latin names so your child can appear more intelligent than they really are when they finally return to school in the far distant future. Atropa belladonna — (Deadly Nightshade) and Digitalis purpurea — (Foxglove) are some of the more popular species. Encourage your child to examine and touch these flowers before explaining to them that they are also poisonous. If your child has any common sense they will rush to wash their hands in the contaminated water of the canal.
Your child will learn to carry hand sanitiser at all times.
As you continue your nature walk there is every possibility that you will meet another person taking their Government allotted daily walk. Your child has already learnt to allow the correct social distancing, now known as social swerving, and they proudly move aside two metres to allow the walker to pass. As a parent you should feel proud of your child's commitment to the rules, but unfortunately they accidentally plunge into the canal unnoticed.
Your child has learnt that sometimes social rules have to be broken.
After checking that your child's ears are above water level, after all you don't want to waste your breath if they can't hear you, you decide that this is an auspicious moment to teach your child Archimedes principle of displacement. They may appear uninterested as they flounder around, however be assured they have taken in your wise words regarding 'the occupation by a submerged body or part of a body of a volume which would otherwise be occupied by a fluid'. You can test them later to see if they have retained it.
Although this is also an opportune moment for a swimming lesson, hold back as you don't want to overload them with too much new information. You bravely lean out, grab them by their Liverpool shorts and fish them out carefully as you don't want to spoil your new Joules jacket.
Your child has learnt that the best way to learn is by self experience.
You explain to your child, who at this point is looking extremely pale, that canal water can cause stomach illnesses or Weil's disease, so it will be necessary for you to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation training on them to expunge any water they may have retained in their lungs. You should give them a running commentary, in between breaths, on what you are doing so that they can retain the information for future use. Because you are a kind and considerate parent you allow them to drink your hot chocolate in case they are suffering from hypothermia. They refuse a biscuit as they are still feeling nauseous.
Your child has learnt that their parent is selfless.
After returning home, you encourage your child to strip off all their wet clothing and put them in the washing machine. You explain carefully how to put the machine on and leave them to it whilst you pop into the kitchen for a well deserved gin and tonic as you have been under a lot of stress during the walk. Meanwhile, your shivering child is struggling with the childproof soap pods container. You kindly direct them to read the instructions so that they can learn how to open it, however you fail to explain that the pods are dangerous in the hands of young children. Fortunately your child is too exhausted to consider popping one in their mouth. After they have switched the washing machine on they wearily dress themselves in their pyjamas as they feel they have absorbed enough new information for one day and are looking forward to their bedtime.
Your child has learnt that childproof containers can always be opened by reading the instructions and sometimes you can have too much of a good thing!
As you relax by the blazing log burner with your second gin and tonic, you contemplate how well your child has done today and how much you have taught them. Although this teaching lark may appear to be a piece of cake, perhaps you can arrange an inset day for tomorrow?
No-one can promise us that everything is going to be alright, but I can promise you that if your child learns nothing during this pandemic but how to deal with the unexpected and how to care for themselves amid chaos, they will have learned more than any book could teach them. You are not your child's teacher, but you are the parent. Take a deep breath.
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