Lockdown with Children and neighbourliness

The last 3 weeks have meant I have spent more time with my children than ever before; even in the summer holidays my 5-year-old daughter did some holiday clubs and my son (20 months old) continued in nursery.

As my wife is a hospital doctor and therefore has been very busy, it has been down to me to do the majority of the childcare, whilst remotely trying to set and monitor work from the students I teach. In one sense this has been an opportunity to have significant amounts of time with them from which my youngest seems to have particularly benefited from, and of course, a challenge, how to occupy and look after them whilst I try to work. 

We are lucky to live a terraced house with a small garden, it gives the children an opportunity to get outdoors safely, and also a chance for my daughter to socialise with my neighbour’s children (fortunately they are approximately the same age both sides), though it has taken some creativity to make sure she has done so safely.

I have not pushed my daughter too hard in terms of school work; half an hour of maths, and the same writing and reading each day is enough. More and it risks a battle of sustaining her concentration, and it is hard to keep my Son happy at the same time. The rest of time has been filled with more creative activities, play-doh, drawing, Lego/Duplo and, of course, TV. 

Things could be far worse; my daughter is still making progress and is learning. I can’t help but think this reflects the wider picture though, that children from relatively advantaged backgrounds have the facilities to learn, far more so than those from less privileged backgrounds. It certainly shows in the work that I am receiving from my own students, there is a clear pattern for who is and is not doing it fully (or at all).

To learn remotely you need good broadband and access to a computer (if it has to be shared with siblings/with parents working from home, that can be limited) and somewhere quiet to concentrate. There are rumours that schools will be amongst the first places to reopen. As long as it is safe, that is a good thing, the lockdown is exacerbating inequalities.

Much as the time with my children has been a silver lining to the very dark cloud of this pandemic, I really want to get back to work and helping all my students.

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