CSA Catapult Lockdown Life: Home-schooling

Date: 03.06.2020

When the UK went into nationwide lockdown at the end of March, little did we know how much our lives would suddenly change. Working from home quickly became normality and staying at home was a requirement of being able to stay safe.

So here we are, three months on from the initial shock of the new way of living. Have we adjusted? In this blog series, we spoke to members of the Catapult team about their lockdown experience and how they are managing through the new normal. This week’s post is about home-schooling. Many of our colleagues at CSA Catapult are balancing a busy life between work and home-schooling their children. Read more about some members of the team’s experience below.

How are you finding home-schooling during lockdown?

Catherine Lundie, HR Business Partner: It’s a challenge. Even though I have 7-year-old twins with the same fairly simple tasks set each week, I have realised that they learn in different ways and at different speeds. I am not a schoolteacher and have no idea if I’m doing it right, so I concentrate on reading, maths and some project work.

We have good days and bad days. If it is a bad day, we just leave it so that it doesn’t become a battle.

Tudor Williams, Head of RF & Microwave: At the start, it was more home than schooling! But as time has gone on the children have accepted that there is a new normal and we have had to find a balance and start to plan more school activities in advance.

I have been helped by having an awesome support system, my partner and my mother moved in at the beginning of lockdown, they have been amazing.

Lydia Abele, Marketing and Communications Manager: I have two children, a daughter and son, and they both learn in separate ways. Their characters are different and I’ve noticed that my daughter will happily work independently, whereas my son needs a little more guidance.

We try and do bits of home-schooling when we can. I think when you try and force something it never works out quite as planned. We try and break it down so that we do a little bit each day and that seems to be working well.

How are your balancing home-schooling around work?

Catherine: I’m lucky that I work part time, so I concentrate on the schoolwork that needs me to be there on the days where I don’t work.

I try to work a slightly shorter day so that I can set the children up in the morning and finish early enough to get out for a walk before they get too bored. Then I make up the hours on non-workdays or evenings.

My husband is also working from home, so we have been taking it in turns to take one day of annual leave each week. This takes the schooling pressure off a little but isn’t using too much entitlement as the future is a bit uncertain at the moment.

Tudor: I feel very, very lucky to have support system that I have, this lets me get good chunks of work done throughout the working day. When I am on calls (which is probably 4-6 hours a day) the children understand and have been brilliant.

Focused work time has been more difficult so some work in the evenings and weekends has been called for. I actually feel like I’ve been more productive in work and had more quality family time.

Lydia: Myself and my partner are both working from home at the moment so we’re lucky that we’re able to balance the task of being the teacher. My daughter is the eldest out of the two, she able to self motivate, which is great as it allows me to focus on my own tasks for work.

My son requires a little more guidance, so we’ve found that our home-schooling times are varied. We sometimes do a little before I start work, during my lunch hour or after I finish for the day. I think you have to be flexible in times like these and accept that home-schooling can’t be done during the regular 9-3 that the children are used to.

Do you have any tips for any other parents who are embarking on the home-schooling journey?

Catherine: I think I’m just winging it the same as everyone else at the moment, but I have tried to make a plan.

In the mornings, I print off the schoolwork for each subject and spread it out over the week. I save activities for the days where they can work independently, and difficult tasks for days where I have more time to sit with them.

I mark their work like their teacher (they love this!). We’re also building a scrapbook of drawings keeping their maths sheets so they can look back at what they’ve done during lockdown.

Tudor: Enjoy the good parts. Be flexible too. I was being quite worried about home-schooling at the start, but I’ve rather enjoyed the whole experience and a little bit of me will not be looking forward to getting back to normal.

Lydia: Take each day as it comes! This is an unusual situation for everyone at the moment so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you can do a bit of learning each day, that’s great. Some days will be better than others so just enjoy the extra time you’ve got with your children spent at home.

Learn more about how the Catapult team are navigating their way through the new normal in our next blog in our Lockdown Life series – coming soon.