The past 16 months have been full of challenges for the Lamont family of Ettalong but, second time around, home schooling during lockdown is a source of pure joy.
Mother of four, Lucy Lamont, says she doesn’t have a bad thing to say about home schooling during this 2021 Greater Sydney COVID-19 Delta Variant lockdown.
“The school has been excellent and home schooling is working out for us very nicely,” she says.
“There are things I find about it that are excellent, my kids are happy, we are all safe and well and no one has got COVID.
“What I probably love the most is that I get to actually have a bit of a look at what my kids are capable of.
“For example, my six-year-old is a very good reader but I didn’t know before how good he was and the level of book he was capable of reading.
“I love that my Year Four boy and my Year One boy are, for the first time, working together because they are working on the same topics even though the older one has more to do around it, so the older boy is helping and mentoring his brother and that is helping them to form a bond that is unbreakable,” she says.
If you’d asked Lucy Lamont how she was coping with home schooling during the 2020 lockdown her answer would have been drastically different.
Her son Hugo had just started Kindergarten at Umina Beach Public School and big brother Angus was in Year Three.
Twins April and Harry were born 10 weeks premature and spent two months in the special care nursery at Gosford Hospital in the middle of the pandemic so Lucy and husband Andrew were the only ones allowed to visit.
“I would home school my kids in the morning and sit with my twins in the afternoon because they were not allowed home,” she says.
“It was a difficult time for us, it was shocking, they were really tiny and I was worried about them so this year is a different home school experience.
“My brother, a paramedic in London, had corona virus and my uncle and auntie came off the Ruby Princess and they had corona virus so it was a very distressing time,” Lucy says.
This year, thankfully, the lockdown is proving less traumatic for the young family.
“My kids love learning so I definitely don’t have the struggles that some parents have.
“Each week we print out what the school provides, a kind of timetable with all the activities for the week, and stick it on the fridge then I let the kids do everything.
“I don’t actually care if they want to do something from Day One and then something from Day Three and throughout the week they just go to the chart and colour it in so they can see what they have achieved and I can see what they have achieved.
“Throughout the week we get this cool looking rainbow pattern on the timetable as the boys colour what they have completed.”
As far as entertaining 16-month-old twins while home schooling two primary school-aged boys, Lamont says having a multi-generational household is a big advantage.
“I am very lucky that my mum lives here with us,” she says.
Just before lockdown the Lamonts moved out of their sizeable house in Umina Beach into a much smaller one in Ettalong that they intend to renovate.
“We moved from a six-bedroom house in Umina to a three-bedroom house in Ettalong that the seven of us are living in so it is a busy house.”
The challenges keep coming – Lucy recently tripped over the family’s 50kg chocolate Labrador and is currently walking with the help of crutches.
“I don’t care because we are all so happy, we are all together, we live in a beautiful part of the world.
“The kids are happy and they are getting time with their little baby siblings that they missed out on last year.”
As a marketing professional, the owner of a start-up small business and president of the Umina Beach Public School Parents and Community Association (P&C), Lucy says the lockdown has been a forced “slowdown”.
“Even slowing down the extra-curricular activities has been really nice, we are living at a slower pace and I have been craving that quieter life.
“I definitely appreciate the help that the school is providing.
“We have had regular calls from our teachers and great updates online through the school’s social media on what is happening and where to get help.
“The schools have recognised that it’s a tough time for parents.
“That empathy really helps because it helps you realise you don’t have to be a teacher you just have to teach what you can, do what you can, keep them happy, work with what they want to do because there is more flexibility.
“And sometimes we are doing two hours of school work a day and then we do other educational things like learn how to ride a bike or do some cooking,” she says.