It was a bright and sunny morning, and with sun streaming through my window, I got up earlier than usual. I went to my window and saw my neighbours across the street. They had just finished their family run and were starting callisthenics in their living room.
My mind wandered to my children and I was inclined to wake them, but thinking of the inevitable bickering, shouting, running around and fighting over the computer I had a coffee instead. I couldn’t help wondering why my children aren’t like my neighbour’s.
My first inclination was to blame the school, but the kids having been home for the last month made that a little difficult, so with another sip of what really was excellent coffee, I came to the realisation it must be my spouse!
When our children are born, we have great hopes and desires for them, and as they grow older these can turn into unrealistic expectations. I remember speaking to a friend who was upset his child was underperforming at school.
It was interesting to see how his attitude changed after I pointed out his son was in fact doing far better than his father was at his age. Years later and this boy has grown into a wonderful successful family man, just like his father.
Two weeks ago there was a unified message from every parent to our Prime Minister, “Close the schools”. Yet, when he listened and there was a realisation that our children were going to be home for weeks, there was a collective cry of “No! Wait!”
The weeks and months ahead will be challenging, but they are an opportunity for us to stop and reassess the way we are leading our lives. This must also include the way we educate our children. For years educators have been questioning the increasing shift of responsibility from home to school, and how the role of a teacher has transformed from educator to a counsellor, health advisor and confidante.
Every child is a partnership between the parents and God and it underlines the fact that the role of the parents is still critical in the success of the children. Any teacher will tell you one of the critical factors in the success of a child is the support they get at home.
I know we are desperate to see our schools remotely deliver lessons to our children. I can assure you that school leaders are working tirelessly to ensure this in place. Pajes is working to help schools and is also setting up a website which will have resources and advice for parents, including a section on wellbeing for you and your family.
However, do bear in mind that this is an exceptionally challenging time; schools are suddenly required to deliver a curriculum through distance learning, while accommodating the needs of the children of key workers, those with education, health and care plans and those requiring free school meals. All this is being done by staff who are looking after their own families, sadly too many of whom are ill.
It is also important to be aware that the values and priorities you want to give your child may not be the same as those dictated by the Department for Education and Ofsted. The next few months is your opportunity to redress the balance.
Don’t bother looking out, everyone’s neighbours have perfect children. But you are someone’s neighbour too, and they are no doubt looking with envy at how your children interact, play, share and care for one another.
Take this time to connect with your children and imbue them with love and a realisation of why it is so special to have you as their parent.
Rabbi Meyer is executive director of Pajes