Harm Jagerman

A meltdown about a red pencil and other homeschool moments

It’s the third week of the lockdown in The Netherlands and homeschooling, I think. It’s sometimes hard. Especially when you are confronted with meltdowns and other challenges. More about a meltdown about a red pencil and other homeschooling moments.

It’s impossible to ignore the posts on social media these days. Parents all over the world about this phenomenon of homeschooling. It’s not just limited to The Netherlands. All over the world, parents are the new teachers because of this global pandemic. There are some moments you think you’re just doing fine, compared to others and there are moments, you realize you are just the same as all the others…

Red pencil

So, what’s up with the red pencil? It’s very simple. A red pencil, dear reader, can lead to the conclusion that you can’t do your schoolwork anymore. It’s the absence of this red pencil that makes you decide you simply can’t go on. A red pencil that is absent can be a good reason not to do your schoolwork. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing this from home or – at some point in time – at school.

Red pencil

This pencil was vanished and searching for it wasn’t an option, according to my daughter. Filled with emotions, she lay on the couch and concluded this was the end of her school career. Until the pencil was found. That was mostly because the dog found the coloured papers inside her schoolbag very interesting and decided he wanted to take them out. You know, the kind of schoolbag certain parents told about that it needed to be put away in a safe place, so the dog wouldn’t find it…

“I’m in a meeting!”

This phrase is not uncommon in this household. These words are combined with an undertone that shows how irritated the person is. The sentence “I’m in a meeting!” is one with certain leverage and holds the same value as: “Be quiet!” Strikingly enough: this sentence seems to be the favourite sentence of my children. When their mother is attending an online meeting, they seem to have no problem whatsoever with the volume of their voices or the sounds they make.

Asking once isn’t enough. That also goes for us parents who are so foolish to ask our children if they should get ready for the meetings they attend (they seem to resemble online education, but I’m not an expert). We are kindly and not-so-kindly told that getting things ready ten or five minutes in advance is way too early! One minute before class starts seems to be a better moment. Especially when you take into consideration that this seems the perfect moment for computers to install Windows updates…


Headsets are such interesting devices. Did you know you can also use them for listening and speaking with others? Apart from throwing them or smashing them on the desk or table. It doesn’t matter that they are made of plastic. There’s always the alternative to use the speakers of the computer or laptop you’re using. This will lead to interesting discussions with your classmates or even your relatives.

I think he knows us by name…

With ‘he’ I mean the delivery guy. By now we’ve ordered so much online, that he’s got to know us. That is simply because all of the non-essential shops are closed because of the lockdown and we seem to encounter problems when it comes to the defect of headsets, keyboards, mouses and other IT products.

Oh, I remember those days when you could escape homeschooling or being a homeschooling teacher by going to the shops.

Press conferences

This may seem unbelievable, but the press conferences given by the Dutch government have a major impact on home education. Whenever a press conference starts, the youngest chooses to comment that they use too difficult words, by the way. Over and over again. The eldest invariably says that the expectation is that schools will reopen sometime before Christmas (it’s January).

There are moments when all goes well in this Coronaschool. Those are the moments when one of the children decides to finish something. We always tell them there will be a new day or (on Friday), there will be a new Monday. In between the moments when everything goes well, there are these meltdowns. For instance the one about a red pencil.

Image source top of this page: Pexels.

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