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A Millfield Prep Parent's Remote Learning Story

Millfield Prep School parent, Lorraine Wells, tells us what her first day with her children remote learning has been like.

"Isolation was my ‘normal’ as a stay-at-home mum – my new ‘normal’ is being surrounded by my family. For my family, being out in a community, in a world of routines and social interactions was their normal – and their new normal was about to be isolation at home. My old normal was to slightly resent their constant use of technology, underlined with nostalgia for pen and paper; but now our two different worlds have collided, a new respect for how they live their lives has emerged.

The intrusion into my world happened gradually – first my husband started working from home, then my eldest from Year 10 at the Senior School, and lastly the youngest from Year 8 in Millfield Prep (who had held on until the bitter end, as she really did not want to finish school).

I thought I had homeschooling cracked – I would lead them into the ways of self-discipline and routine: traditional school desk, set by the window, in a shared family space, and an old fashioned bell to toll breaktime and the end of the day. I set up a work station for each, away from their bedrooms, as advised, to enable supervision – I suppose I was expecting resistance. How wrong could I have been in expecting my children to think it was a holiday!

The first thing the girls did was to recreate their ‘strength and conditioning’ training – in true Millfieldian spirit - as they wanted to incorporate healthy exercise into their routines. But in the evening? Really?! In Notes, they drew up a list of exercises, that involved running from the sitting room to the top of the house and back down again -  repeatedly  - whilst we were trying to watch the telly. Now who is role modelling?

First thing Monday morning, roused by the inspiring email from the Prep School Deputy Heads to don their Kukri kit and "Be Kind, Be Brave, Be Brilliant", we all set to work. I must say I am loving these daily emails – almost like a school assembly, to make us all think how we can start the day positively.

Day one, lesson one – English. Task one was to take a photo of two pages of their book, record reading it and send to the teacher. Miraculously, in what seemed like a matter of minutes, our youngest daughter received feedback on Showbie, of the strengths of her reading and kind guidance about words that had been mispronounced. I was so impressed – we didn’t feel isolated at all! Someone was out there, what my daughter did and learned mattered.

It now did not seem like remote learning – it felt like the teacher was in the room. I did not need to morph into a teacher or a warden – they were on it. They were all following their usual timetables, they both had their teachers just a Showbie step away. I was redundant – I could go about my usual daily tasks. We met for break, lunch and tea and cake. I began to understand and respect the role that technology had in their learning and I even began to value social media apps like House Party, as a means for them to maintain relationships in their down time. I began to reflect on how they were independent learners, who have their own routines and were actually role-modelling to me the importance of embracing technology to learn and to be part of a community.

Lastly, I rang the traditional school bell to toll the end of the day - only to be told off for ringing it five minutes too early! Kids of today…"

Find out more about Millfield Prep's remote learning provisions, for academics, sport and pastoral care here.