Start up home schooling

The UK’s third Covid-19 lockdown has brought about yet more challenges for me as a parent, business owner, and ad-hoc replacement teacher. Due to the additional case count and virality of this new virus strain, schools have been closed for the majority of children, with parents taking up the enforcer role of getting their children to do actual school work. 

The situation is compounded by a severe inability to test our Eloy app with the broader public. No customer insight sessions or focus groups, no guerrilla coffee shop testing, and very little excuse to self-test (mini ‘dogfooding’ sessions) by driving the streets when we have been told to stay at home. 

This situation, along with my elder daughter’s inquisitive mind (“What do you do at work Daddy?”), led me to one conclusion. I was going to combine work, home-schooling and user-testing all in one go. This is Home-Schooling, Eloy Style. 

What do you do for work Daddy?

DD1: Daddy, what do you do on your computer?

Daddy: I build software. Software for cars.

DD1: Daddy, I want to build a car. 

Ok, I simplified what I do but it’s clear my daughter doesn’t really care. 

On a positive note, she wanted to build a car, which is better than watching Frozen 2 for the 27th time. 

Unfortunately, the potential to build a car replaced any desire to do her assigned school work which I knew was going to land me in hot water later in the day. But when faced with a choice between reading a story about bears with “ea” and “ee” sounds and getting her hands dirty building something that moves I can’t blame her for picking the latter. 

Luckily while she spent some time drawing pictures of the car she wanted to build I got a couple of hours of peace and quiet while I could get on with some proper work. 

Car Drawing

Technical drawings for the car

After finishing up my daily emails and putting in a team call, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she’d done a fair bit of work. I also hoped that, as children are wont to do, she’d forgotten that we’d talked about actually building the car.

DD1: When are we going to build a car?

Daddy: Daddy makes software, not cars

DD1: Like the seats? I want the car to have soft seats for my doggy. 

Daddy: Ok, we can make a car if you eat your lunch

DD1: Deal

I had now made a promise from which I couldn’t escape. If no car materialised, then there would certainly be no more schoolwork done this week.

It was time to see what I had in the shed. Luckily, I was able to find an old lawnmower which I should have disposed of last year but hadn’t as a trip to the dump was probably classed as a non-essential journey. And of course, there were some pieces of wood stashed away. I thought we might be in business.

Old Lawnmower

This is why dads never clear out the shed

As with all old lawnmowers, a bit of WD40 was required to get the bolts off which wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but meant I was able to sneak in a few phonics.

Daddy: Ouch. Jolly gosh. I’ve cut my hand!

DD1: Why did you shout?

Daddy: Because I cut my hand.

DD1: You’re bleeding.

Daddy: Can you spell ‘Bleeding’?

DD1: B-L-E-E-D-I-N-G

Daddy: Can you see any other ‘ee’ or ‘ea’ words?

DD1: F-E-A-T-H-E-R-S. Daddy, how did the feathers get in the lawnmower?

Time to move on.

We had wheels, wood, an axle, and a steering wheel (S-T-E-E-R-I-N-G) and were ready to go.

Old Wood

Precision engineering on the bodywork. 

The boxcar was going to be simple, designed to move forwards and backwards, but incorporating the best in-car software application on the market. The wooden frame was built, and we were ready for an initial stability trial with the dog.


The dog. Just because

Dog-testing passed, we popped the wheels on, added a steering wheel, comfy seats and a selfie-stick phone holder, and set out on our first road test.

Box Car

Hand-finished to a custom specification 

Despite the rain, the first road test went well.

DD1: Can I drive to town to pick up my sister?

Daddy: She is still at nursery, but we can go later.

DD1: How will I know where to go and where she is?

Daddy (with a smile): You can use Daddy’s mobile phone with the Eloy game. Your sister can press a button on her phone and then you just need to ask Siri where she is and it will automatically tell you where to drive.

Finally, we had moved on from schoolwork and play to what I really wanted to do; some UX testing with a really tough audience.  

So simple a 4 year old can use it

Overview of Eloy home teaching

It’s tough at the moment and the Eloy team hope you are all getting on as well as you can. I’m having to do most of my work in 3-hour shifts alternating with my indispensable wife, during the week, and spending more time in the evenings and weekends catching up,

The upside is that I’ve been able to share some of my work with DD1, something in normal times, I wouldn’t be able to do. And she helped my prove that Eloy is so intuitive that even a 4-year-old can use it.

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