13th July 2020

Science Star Wars and sunflowers: Your home schooling stories

Science Star Wars and sunflowers: Your home schooling stories


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After 12 weeks, parents and pupils are struggling with home learning

It’s 14 weeks since schools across Scotland were closed as part of a plan to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Although some children have continued to go to childcare “hubs” at schools, most have spent lockdown at home and parents have had to juggle home-schooling with their own employment.

Now that many pupils are now officially on their summer break, parents have been telling us how home-schooling worked for them – and how they feel about the prospect of their children returning full-time in August.

Science ‘It’s been a challenge’ – Derek Miller, Aberdeenshire

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Derek Miller

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The Millers have tried their best with home schooling but have struggled with a poor internet connection

For Derek Miller’s family, home learning has been a challenge. He has been trying to juggle working from home while his two sons, who are 13 and 15, get on with school work.

They have struggled with a poor internet connection at their rural Aberdeenshire home.

But he says this is only part of the difficulty – while his sons’ school is trying its best, the absence of traditional classroom teaching has made things tough.

“We are relying heavily on them self-disciplining and supervising themselves”, he added.

He said that not always having access to a teacher to clarify simple queries has presented problems. How available teachers are to pupils has been mixed. He suspects some teachers have struggled with working from home.

“When they get stuck then sometimes I can help with things if I remember it from school – a lot of the time I can’t help because I don’t have time. It is a bit of a farce really”, he said.

Derek said that the news children might be able to go back to school full-time after summer was a welcome relief.

Science ‘A disaster’ – Carole Lyons, East Renfrewshire

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Carole Lyons says home schooling has been “a disaster”. She has one daughter, and Carole says she can’t imagine how difficult it must be for families with more children.

There has been the odd taught class, and a few lecture-style videos. Most lessons have been more like home work rather than teaching.

Her daughter, who is finishing first year at high school, has been given reading and research to do, with very limited teaching taking place.

Carole was concerned and asked the school how to help, and was “basically told to back off”.

She says she doesn’t fault the teachers, because they are trying their best, but had been concerned that blended learning would be an “absolute shambles” in August.

She had been concerned about the prospect of blended learning after the summer, but is not too worried about her daughter catching up on what she has missed if schools return full-time in August.

Science Virtual piano lessons – Mark Cummings, East Dunbartonshire

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Mark Cummings’ daughters attend a fee-paying school, and he is very pleased with how quickly it adapted to the circumstances.

His youngest daughter is in nursery and has had video calls with her teacher and classmates every week.

His eldest daughter is finishing primary one. Twice a day she has virtual lessons with her teacher, with other work set to be completed independently.

She has even been able to keep up with her piano lessons – virtually, of course.

Science Learning life skills – Sandy Rennie, Inverness

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Sandy Rennie

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The Rennie children have been using the afternoons to learn life skills and take in the fresh Highland air

While dad Sandy Rennie has “really enjoyed” spending so much time with his children, it has also been very challenging.

Teachers issue work in the morning, and then the children are left to their own devices. But, Sandy says, it can’t be easy for teachers either.

“I don’t envy the teachers. there’s more appreciation for teachers when you’re home schooling.”

One saving grace, he says, is that his children have been given laptops by the school.

The Rennies often manage to conclude their assignments by lunchtime, so mum and dad have been using the afternoons to teach them life skills – like cooking, cleaning and gardening.

Science Star Wars and sunflowers – Heather, Fife

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Heather’s sons have enjoyed Star Wars themed science experiments

Heather and her sons have taken a hands on approach to home learning. One of the examples they have enjoyed was growing sunflowers. They planted them back in March and she has since incorporated them into lessons about maths, writing and biology.

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Sunflowers planted in the spring have been used as props in different home learning lessons

Another highlight was Star Wars Day, where the boys thought they had a “day off” but actually did science experiments and cooking.

Heather says their teachers have been excellent, but despite this the enthusiasm from her sons has dropped off.

As time goes on, they are missing their classmates more.


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