Learning in lockdown: Homeschooling in Islington after move from America

Yao Li, 44, and Marco Mendez, 33.

Yao Li, 44, and Marco Mendez, 33 - Credit: Yao Li

As schools get ready to reopen next week, an Islington couple have shared their experiences of homeschooling after moving from overseas during lockdown.

Yao Li, 42, and Marco Mendez, 33, moved to the borough from Chicago at the end of December with their eight-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, enrolling them at Abacus Belsize Primary School on Camley Street.

Marco said: “At first we were worried because they were joining a new country, a new school and having to make new friends and meet new teachers in the middle of a pandemic.

“However, the adjustment has been much better than we expected.”

To help with the change, the childrens' teachers sent welcome messages and stayed behind after virtual classes to chat to the new pupils one-on-one and see how they were adapting.

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There is also a parents’ group chat for all year groups, where Yao and Marco can see what other children are struggling with and share tips with one another.

Yao said: “There was one instance when it was my daughter’s birthday and she was feeling homesick.

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“Through the group chat, her classmates sent in videos of birthday greetings which made a huge difference to her mood, it made her feel like they really cared for her.”

The children have each had two sessions per day at 9am and 1pm, lasting between 30 to 60 minutes on Google Classroom.

Marco Mendez, 33, homeschooling with his child after move to Islington.

Marco with one of his two children. - Credit: Yao Li

Reference materials are provided, such as example sheets and videos, as well as resources such as laptops for families who require it.

However, Marco is concerned about the lack of social interaction the youngsters have been able to enjoy with other children during lockdown - since the move, they have not met or spoken in-person to any other child.

Finding the positives in the situation, Marco said the children are now much more independent.

Yao added: “I have personally loved the children being at home.

“The adult interaction with us has been really significant, they have been doing more chores and reading more.

“We have been talking about our bad days and why it is important to respect others. I hope that they come out of this lockdown more empathetic, responsible and learning other life skills.”

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