With the spread of COVID-19, as of the 20th March, the schools all closed in the UK. This has left a lot of people with the issue of needing to ensure that their children get an education whilst also ensuring that they’re able to continue to work. I’m in the fortunate position where my employer is happy for me, within reason, to choose my own hours. My wife works three weekdays during the week, so we decided that on a Monday, Thursday and Friday, I will be a teacher to our four-year-old between 9 am and 2 pm then will work between 2 pm and 10:30 pm. I’m going to do my best to document this extremely odd experience.

Day one of being a teacher, my plan was fairly flexible as I had no idea how long my son was likely to be able to sit and do a task. I had sketched out that I wanted to: -

  • Start at 09:00.
  • Do some handwriting and reading.
  • Have lunch sometime around 12:00.
  • Do a science experiment with a mirror, water and a torch to show how light can split into a rainbow. Transition to art and drawing rainbows.
  • Finish at 14:00.

With handwriting practice, I had bought a workbook on Amazon with the lines he expects. On each line, I wrote the capital and lower case character that I wanted my son to copy and that line. I did this on three pages, before adding some small words (jolly, joy and icy). I found that these three pages plus small words took my son about 30 minutes to complete and that he was attentive during the whole period. He particularly enjoyed the challenge of writing actual words at the end. Post this, we played a game for 15 minutes as a break.

At 9:45, we started our reading practice. Thankfully, our school has been sending my son home with cardboard cut-out “keywords” since he started in September and my wife, heavenly being that she is, has been keeping them even after he masters a pack. I simply spend 30 minutes testing his ability to read each of these keywords. We successfully completed ~150 words during our lesson (proud daddy moment, he got them all correct). Post this, we had another 15-minute break, this time including an apple to eat as a snack.

My son, like his mother and father, really enjoys doing maths at school. My wife has been playing maths games with him for some time, starting with counting games and more recently with arithmetic games. I started him with a sheet of 5 math questions to perform (fairly simple since I was gauging his ability; 2+2, 7+3, 3*2, 8+4, 7-3). I’ll be honest, I was expecting some of those to stump him but he just quickly trotted out the answers with no difficulty. I decided that the next 5 would be a little more difficult (6*2, 300+400, 9+6, 12-8, 2*3) but again he had no difficulties. I upped the ante again (3*3, 6+4, 6-2, 15-5, 10+20), again (3*4, 7+7, 7*2, 14-7, 20+40) and again (4*2, 10-7, 16+4, 22+2, 3*5, 6+5) but didn’t reach anything that he struggled with. It wasn’t until I added clock faces and asked him what the time read that we finally found something he struggled with. We’ll continue practising maths, but I think telling the time can be one of our challenges. After 30 minutes of this, 11:00 rolled around and we played a game for 15 minutes.

After we’d finished our game, I showed my son how to bake a jacket potato. He prepped it, placed it in the oven and then we played for another 45 minutes before he ate his lunch.

Post lunch, at about 13:00, we started our science lesson. I asked my son if he’d ever seen a rainbow before, then asked him if he could explain how a rainbow occurs. He dutifully informed me that after it rains, the sun comes out and a rainbow comes in the sky. With that as our starting point, I briefly explained that light that comes from the sun is actually made up of lots of colours even though we can only see it as white. He was skeptical as expected, so I took a pan and filled it with water then placed a mirror in the pan at an angle. I took a torch and shone the light through the water on to the mirror and held a white piece of paper above it to show a rainbow of colours. Next, we decided to draw a picture of a rainbow that we could show my wife when she gets home from work. I wrote at the bottom of his piece of paper “Roy G. Biv” and explained that if my son could remember that man’s name then he’d always know the colours of a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). We finished this slightly early (around 13:45), so we did a little more writing practise (up to 14:00) before ending the day. Day two and three will be dealt with by my wife, before I start again for Thursday and Friday (days four and five).

I’ve always felt that teachers have a hard job and teaching a single fairly easy student has not changed my mind. After this, I’m completely wrung out and then had to start my normal working day! Kudos to you teachers of the world, especially those at Kempshott Infant School.

Finally, as a favour, could you have a look at this petition? This is a request to stop all routine eye examinations in England to keep us in line with the rest of the UK. My wife is an optometrist who is currently, during social distancing, working in close proximity to many members of the public over the course of a working day WITH NO PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. This is dangerous not just to her, but to her patients as well.