Opinion: Matthew Munson – world of facts from home-schooling

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

Do you know how many dwarf planets there are in the solar system? I do; five.

How about the meaning of the word velociraptor? It means “sneaky thief”.

This whole home-schooling lark has been as educational for me as it has been for Bryan; he’s taught me a lot of random facts that I never knew I needed. This includes the names of many moons in the solar system, the size of the Red Spot on Mars, and which planet is the hottest – Venus, in case you were desperate to know.

I’ve also learnt a lot of patience and creativity this week, as a nine-year-old child needs to remain focused whilst I’ve been on Zoom meetings that have also needed my attention. I’ve not always been as calm as I needed to be, but I do try.

Have you heard of Thanet Rock Hunters? I hope so, because they deserve a lot of recognition; they have a Facebook group and hide lots of brilliant rocks all over the place. Cycling home the other day, Bryan found a brilliant rock, painted light blue with beautiful balloons – and I wouldn’t have imagined that such a simple thing would have ever caused such delight. But delight was suitably caused, and it is currently in pride of place in Bryan’s bedroom – I hope soon it will find its way back into circulation.

In a couple of weeks, I’m taking some time off work and we’re doing a nature week. We bought a couple of bird feeders this week, and watching some birds peck their way at the fat balls has been far more entertaining than TV … and I can’t quite believe I’m saying that.

We’re fortunate to have a lot of brilliant parks and beaches right on our doorstep and, whilst we can’t spend as much time in them as we like, we can still use them and enjoy them. We’re going to be building a garden box (an idea stolen from Bryan’s sister), some more bird feeders, and spending time in the fresh air together. That’s what I can’t wait for – with the strictures of work an ever-present necessity, I can’t always concentrate on his needs every second, but he’s also learning the need for self-reliance and independence.

Bryan leaned over my shoulder as I sat writing this, and he peered closely at my screen. I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell you, and he grinned and reminded me that I once told him that I was perfect – before then tripping down the stairs. What a beautiful example of poetic justice.

His school has been particularly great, checking in with me as I’m a single parent (bless them – what a thoughtful gesture) and arranging class email addresses so that weekly schoolwork can be sent home to us every Monday morning. This week will be the first week it’s trialled, so I’ve signed us up; it’ll be a learning curve for us, to see what works and what doesn’t work – I suspect it might be mostly maths work that I desperately hope he understands more than I do.

When I was at school, it took me two goes to pass my GCSE – the first time, I got the worst grade possible, and the second time, I barely scraped a pass. I was happy with that; I had no intention of ever using it ever again, except for the barest essentials, and happily forgot it all.

How I regret that decision now. But on the other hand, Bryan is convinced that I am a world-famous author and seems affronted when people don’t recognise me. I don’t have the heart to correct him – and that outweighs my desire to learn any maths skills any day of the week.

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