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Home schooling

After what we’ve been through it’s OK to feel differently, and it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. This week, father-of-two and journalist Paul Speller shares an open letter to parents, about some of his experiences with home learning.

Dear Fellow Parents,

Tell me you haven’t cried or wanted to cry this past 12 months.

I dare you to tell me that. I double dare you.

There’s a good chance some tears have been shed in frustration at the difficulties faced with home learning for our children.

One of the first things I learned was, no matter how you portray it on your Facebook page, home learning is not all enrichment, togetherness and magical new relationships with your kids.

Brilliant if it has contained some of that, but I dare you to tell me you haven’t wanted to swear yourself silly at other times.

Our schools and teachers have been immense, but it’s still been hard.

The moment I discovered that a home learning method working once does not mean it will work every time was disheartening – but liberating at the same time. It’s okay to admit defeat. Try something else.

Remember schools do not expect miracles. They understand the pressure families are under. Teachers more than anyone will know the difficulty of competing demands on wi-fi with everyone at home.

Remember your teachers know children aren’t robots. If yours wants to re-work a sum so that the blue ice creams are more plentiful than the pink ones, pass them the felt tips and worry about how horrible bubblegum flavour is some other time.

Talk to the teacher if your child is struggling – or you are! Your wellbeing is important.

Don’t always try to rationalise your children’s moods. It’s no surprise if you cannot find a specific reason for a meltdown – although remember there’s a global pandemic. Think of the cumulative effect on the contacts of a cola bottle each time it is tapped.

If your child explodes because the blue felt tip runs out before enough bubblegum ice creams have been coloured in, it’s likely to be the last in a long line of things going wrong that day, week or even month.

Share your thoughts and frustrations with other parents, but don’t set yourself or your children in competition with anyone. It’s what works for you and your kids that matters.

A good few years ago, a primary school head teacher told me that the majority of parents’ main concern was that their children were happy in school – and safe. Apply the same at home.

And for all the positivity we’re told to try, I’ve also learned that not every child appreciates the superhero analogies ­– for some it may exacerbate feelings of inadequacy if they do not regard themselves as heroic. That’s okay. Every child is different.

But, while some children may not want to hear you call them a hero, you can still as that is exactly what they are. Every. Single. One.

And you know what, fellow parents? So are we.

For more tools and resources on mental wellbeing visit: or if you would like to speak to someone call the Community Support and Information Line team on 686262.