Covid-19: Last day of home-school is 'end of an era'

By Kate Scotter
BBC News, East

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image copyrightFamily photo
image captionKatrin's children Ada, Hazel and Remy are looking forward to getting back to some routine

For thousands of families up and down England, Friday is the final day of home-schooling. After weeks of lessons at the kitchen table and in the lounge, how are parents and children feeling about their return to school on Monday?

'It's left me even more in awe of their teachers'

image copyrightFamily Photograph
image captionHannah, pictured with husband Kelvin and their daughters Mollie and Nell, said their daughters' schools were "outstanding" at providing content

As Hannah watches daughter Mollie make her final Zoom call before she returns to school in Norwich, she says she's surprised at how emotional she feels.

"I thought that I'd be counting down the days till [home] school's out," says the mother-of-two.

She says being able to listen in on her daughters interacting with their classmates and teachers "has been a rare treat".

"It's feels a bit like I'm part of a fly-on-the-wall educational experience and it's left me even more in awe of their teachers and even a little more educated myself," she says.

image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionMollie and Nell did their classes at home via Zoom
image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionMum Hannah says listening in on the girls interacting with their teachers and classmates has been a "rare treat"

Hannah and her daughters Mollie, 10, and Nell, seven, say home-schooling has "definitely been better" this time around, compared to the first time, last spring.

Dog walker Hannah, 41, says the content provided by both of her daughters' schools has been "outstanding".

Mollie saw her teacher and classmates on Zoom every morning and this time the lessons were all on videos they could watch.

Sister Nell was also taught via Zoom and says her teacher was "so funny" she would sometimes watch his video lessons "over and over again as they made me laugh a lot".

image copyrightFamily Photo
image caption"Sledging for four days in a row was really good fun," says Mollie, right
image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionBoth girls say they cannot wait to go back to school to see their friends

When snow fell in Norwich last month, the girls got to go sledging for "four days in a row", which was "really good fun".

Despite the funny video lessons and adventures in the snow, they are both looking forward to going back to school next week and seeing their friends.

"I can't wait to go back to see them all," says Mollie.

'It feels like the end of the long school holiday'

image copyrightFamily Photograph
image captionKatrin and her children are looking forward to having some structure again

Mother-of-three Katrin is excited for her two eldest children Ada, six, and Hazel, four, to be reunited with their friends too.

"Not being able to see them is something they have struggled with more this time round," she says.

But the former teacher from Sprowston, near Norwich, says she also has a "certain level of anxiety".

"We're going back to the busy school-run and it will feel strange being near so many people again," she says.

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionAda, right, made pancakes as part of a school project

Katrin, who runs parenting community website Norwich Mumbler, says the final days of home-schooling have had "the same feeling as the end of the long school holiday".

"The house needs a good tidy, the kids are in an almost constant state of agitation with each other and I'm looking forward to a large, cold glass of wine on Sunday evening," she says.

image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionAda, Hazel and Remy enjoyed sledging for the first time

Their timetable has featured pancake-making, a chalk design project for BBC Look East and sledging for the first time.

Katrin, who also has 20-month-old Remy, says as time has gone on, the willingness to do the home-learning activities has "lessened and it is harder to motivate them to get stuck in".

"I think we're all looking forward to the structure and routine of getting back to nursery and school, but most of all I just can't wait to see their faces when they get to see their friends again."

'I have enjoyed learning with my children'

image copyrightFamily Photograph
image captionLiz, pictured with her children Joshua, Madeleine and Nathaniel, and husband Marc, says the children "are ready to go back"

Mother-of-three Liz says it feels like the "end of an era" as her son Joshua, 12, and daughter Madeleine, nine, return to school.

She worked out she has home-schooled her children for 131 days in total across the two lockdowns.

The freelance writer says she has "enjoyed learning with them", and discovering more about how her children learn.

image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionJoshua, 12, says there were some benefits to home-schooling

She says her youngest, Nathaniel, three, has also benefited from having his big brother and sister around.

"We have got into our stride with it and they have got used to being at home and now life is going to change again," says Liz.

image copyrightFamily Photo
image captionMadeleine, nine, is "fed up" of her mum being a teacher as well as her mum

The 43-year-old says her son Joshua has "quite enjoyed" learning from home as he has found it "sometimes easier to concentrate".

While daughter Madeleine "is fed up of me trying to be mum and teacher and she is very ready to go back".

She says one positive outcome has been the link between school and home, which has been "incredibly strengthened" and she hopes that continues going forward.

image copyrightfamily photo
image captionNathaniel, three, has benefited from his older siblings being at home

To mark the final day, the family has enjoyed pastries and will be tucking into a takeaway meal later.

And Liz is looking forward to getting the dining room - that had been turned into a school room - "back to normal".

"This time has been bit of a gift to slow down and appreciate what they are doing.

"But they are so ready to go back and not be on top each other," she says.

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