Homeschooling is an utterly unworkable solution for so many

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“They’re off again already,” my friend texted. “Who?” I asked. “The class WhatsApp groups,” she replied. “They’re posting inspirational quotes and ‘we can do this’ messages. One has even said she’s going to print the quotes off and post them around her kitchen for the difficult days and I can’t take anymore of it!” she wrote in block capitals, lest I was under any misapprehension that she saw these helpful suggestions as a good thing.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See

I know how she feels. I thought my homeschooling days were over. At the end of last summer as RTÉ Homeschool Hub waved goodbye and President Michael D Higgins and Bono left me in tears with their words of hope and inspiration for the nation’s children, I reminisced about how the children of Ireland had learned through the pandemic of 2020 and hoped we’d never be there again.

When my youngest child had his first day in big school last September while his older siblings galloped down the path, eager to see their friends and teachers again, I was hugely grateful to the school community for all they did to get our children back to the classroom safely. School was the one thing that got us through the last few difficult months of 2020 when we couldn’t see family, when restrictions increased and when the days got shorter and getting outdoors was a little more challenging.

As sentimental auld me lamented the absence of nativity shows and school carol services, my school brought in snow machines and Santa and made sure that even if it had to be a different Christmas at school, it would still be a magnificent one.

And I felt we could cope with most things, if the schools could manage to stay open.

But I knew what was coming when the Christmas holidays were extended until January 11th. I’m not sure there was a parent in the country who believed schools would reopen then.

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