Opinion: Matthew Munson- Back to school and ending lockdown on a high

Matthew Munson Photo Thanet Writers

Five and a half months. That’s how long it will have been, all in all, that my son has been off from school by the time he returns in September. He’d go back now if he could; he misses his friends, the mental stimulation, and the new experiences he gets in the classroom.

He knows I can’t wave a magic wand to make it all better, but he’s nine; in all reality, he’s not interested in the whys and wherefores, he just wants everything to be back to normal. He’s not the only one. I suspect this hit home when I had an email from his school this week telling him who his new teacher would be in September – and then he realised that he wouldn’t be returning to Year Four.

He’d invested in it emotionally; it was going to be the first full year of Kentish education that he’d experienced. If I’d had to miss so much school thirty years ago, then perhaps I would have felt the same; actually, strike that, I wouldn’t have felt it as much. Whilst I enjoyed learning just as much as Bryan does, I wasn’t as gregarious as he is; I would have just been even more introverted during lockdown and undoubtedly enjoyed it (disturbingly).

So now we go into the next phase of this strange and unusual time, and I start helping Bryan prepare for school without his peers going through it physically with him. I should say, his school is doing well at keeping me updated with it all; I’m just sad for Bryan that he’s not experiencing all this with his friends. He’ll be going in for a morning picnic in a couple of weeks, and there’ll be a lot of excitement there; I might well avoid as much sugar as possible for a couple of days either side, just to help calm things down ever so slightly.

I wonder how Bryan’s generation will look back on this in years to come. In many ways, Bryan is fortunate; he’s in Year 4, so hasn’t had exams affected, his Kent Test is still an academic year away, and he can just go back to school and enjoy himself. I’m glad about that, because school should be pleasurable. When it’s not, we have a problem and it needs to be dealt with. How it should be dealt with is a question best left to the experts.

But the topic of conversation that has occupied us most of all this week has been – “How soon can we get our hair cut?” I’ve made use of clippers a couple of times, but it’s not the same – and Bryan has made his displeasure known, even when I’ve threatened him with an even-shorter cut. Next Saturday can’t come soon enough to avoid any further domestic disputes, and I would never have imagined it could have been over that. Matt’s Headroom will be doing both of us a huge favour.

I intend to end our lock-down learning on a high, however, and am planning a two-week session on history, religion, and myths & legends. Well, I say planning, I currently have a few notes, and have a week to finish it off before we begin – and, hopefully, I make some memories with Bryan whilst I take him on a couple of field trips. I’m strangely excited about ending the “formal” home learning on a hopeful high, and I just need to work on bringing history alive – that’s what makes learning so much more fun.