Included in our homeschooling work for this week was a lovely message from Nelly’s teacher.

In it she reminded us that we are not home-schooling – that is an option decided upon by parents – what we are actually doing is “emergency educating” and surviving during a pandemic.

I completely agree with her observation. As I have said before, I am not a primary school teacher and home-schooling is not for me. That said, I have learned a thing or two from last year’s “homeschooling” experience.

Hannah, Katy and Nelly Bolger. \ Claire Nash

Doing education in our own way

This time around, school books have a strict time limit. Routine is important and we start the day as if we are going to school-school.

We have gone so far as to leave the house out the back door and climb back in through the window, dancing to David Bowie’s Heroes, just to set the enthusiasm at the right level.

I have also made the bold move to encourage both girls to write letters to their friends.

Katy draws pictures and Nelly puts some thought into what to say and what questions to ask to each friend. In my own sneaky way, I am encouraging handwriting practice, checking spellings, use of capitals, full stops, etc.

Whilst the girls are staying connected with their friends, doing something with a purpose, learning something new and having a little adventure doing it!

We have incorporated delivering letters by pony-back to friends (post boxes) within the five kilometre limit.

This is adding the element of exercise to the mix. For those further afield, we visit the post box whilst getting our essential groceries. Shares in An Post seem like a good idea right now!

A reminder not to waste spurs action

Today my kitchen took on a sort of domestic laboratory look. I was talking to my cousin on the phone.

She’s a nurse and I haven’t heard from her in ages. So long, in fact, I was getting worried she’d contracted COVID-19.

She was making apple tarts while we were talking. Her apples were on the turn and the tarts was the solution so as not to waste them.

Considerable space in my fridge is taken up with cooking apples - for a considerable time now, too. I had bought the apples to make rosehip jelly and marmalade jelly before Christmas (yes I know; I hang my head in shame!).

I had difficulty in summoning up the effort to make the jellies, though, since our kitchen was renovated. My real stumbling block is that I have nowhere to hang my lovely homemade jelly bag; made from an old muslin cloth and string.

An afternoon of chatting and baking with her children ensured a good base to launch into another week of emergency education!

However, spurred on by my shame and (mostly) because Michael had the girls, I chucked my grand ideas of vacuuming and folding to the wind and chopped apples! As a girl who performs well under pressure I reckoned I would figure out where to hang my unique jelly bag as I worked. And indeed I did. Scouring the house, I decided two clothes baskets would give enough height to my first (rosehip) jelly bag.

It was then safely positioned out of the reach of little hands in the deep kitchen windowsill.

Katy returned just in time to help make a second jelly bag from the same materials. I had to borrow her folding picnic chair in order to strain my marmalade jelly!

An apple crumble made a tasty finish to the last of the apples. An afternoon of chatting and baking is a good base to launch into another week of emergency education!