Welcome to Friday of the first week of homeschool, online, virtual, or whatever new form of school you and your children just completed. This short blog piece is intended to congratulate and encourage you on your new journey as our American nation pulls together to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on those vulnerable in our population.
And, truly, I mean it when I say you’re amazing as this first week of alternative site schooling ends. We now have the rest of the school year to get through this “new normal”.
From a Homeschooling Veteran’s Perspective
When all this unprecedented school closures started occurring in my corner of the world here in south Florida, I felt the anxiety of all my friends and fellow parents/caregivers here and wanted to help with any weblinks or advice I could lend. Last week is now a fuzzy memory of what our normal lives were as this week is like we’ve all stepped through Alice’s Looking Glass to a new dimension with the same characters but the landscape feels so different and otherworldly.
As this first week unfolded, I was impressed by the creativity of various parents/caregivers with setting up their school spaces versus their work-from-home spaces. Some were able to carve out spaces from their living room or kitchen areas. Others adopted the notion that where each student was comfortable worked well even if it meant sitting on their bed or in a cozy reading nook.
Also, I would like to thank many other moms who inspired my own program by sharing ideas of how to help others like having students write notes to those who are stuck in nursing homes without visitors or encouraging cards for the medics who are on the front lines of dealing with those suffering from the severe effects of COVID-19.
Even though I’m a mother who’s been doing the home- and multi-schooling thing for several years, I can get into habitual ruts and found this past week to be invigorating when reading about other households and how they approached this new world of blending school and work into the domestic home front. The comic relief shared between family and friends has also been a priceless and necessary help for our collective mental health.
Yes, Learning Can Be Messy
At risk of offering more unsolicited advice, I feel the need to tell parents and caregivers to not be too hard on yourself when you look around at the “school” area in your home and realize it’s devolved into a messy affair. This may be mostly true for those who have elementary school and younger children in their midst. However, it can also occur for those who are older and perhaps are having the opportunity to create and experiment in ways they were unable to in the conventional school setting.
Again, you’re doing great and perhaps having a mess is a nice visual to help us all honor our school janitorial staffs even more. Another inspiration for me this week was how many parents/caregivers started giving their children “life lessons” right away in how to help clean up in the home itself. I will start applying some of those ideas in my own school area as I’m certainly not a good janitor.
As for the inevitable bickering that can occur between siblings, I’ve applied the same mantra to my own as maybe many of you have this week. I remind my students that whether it’s their brother or sister is irrelevant, the conflicts they practice with them will come back again with their friends, future romantic relationships, work mates, and so on. It helps to diffuse the current frivolity by presenting a vision of what the future holds for them one day. Conflict resolution is a constant life skill that we can help our students recognize today.
You Must Do What Works for Your Household
What’s truly new about this experience for many is that your children are now at home and not in the fold of the school building. They’re now in your building. The stress for everyone is at a level I’m not sure we can measure at this point. Many others like myself would like to take this moment to say that you must do what works for your household.
If that means Spring Break starts this week, then so be it. If that means your school meets on the living room couch, so be it. If that means you let all your elementary school-aged kids out into the backyard for a few hours a day instead of sitting at a desk, by all means so be it. If that means no screens, great but if it means screens everywhere then so it shall be.
If there is anything I can share in terms of advice from my perspective as a homeschooling mother, it’s that having students at home means being flexible and ready to change the lesson plan and schedule as quickly as our kids have their growth spurts and mood swings. We are receivers in a way and can only respond to help nurture and calm at times. The school curriculum can wait if a snuggle or a rest period is in order.
In short, you make the call on what works for your household and the students therein and no one is grading you but you. Please give yourself grace. Remember that not only does it feel like your home is in a state of chaos, outside at the regular grocery store we see a surreal sight daily:
We’re All in This Together
School districts and the various private schools have spent this week scrambling together their efforts to rewrite and create a new path forward for how they will decimate your students’ curriculum for the rest of this 2019-2020 school year. We’ve all had to exercise patience under the most stressful of circumstances that our population has known, save that of the WWII generation.
In the meantime, it has been heartwarming to witness how parents and caregivers have pulled together to share ideas, information, and simply recognize what an incredible job school teachers and faculty have every day under normal circumstances. I appreciate the sharing of ideas through social media of how to help others, online school and learning ideas, and groups with chats online to help parents and teachers alike. Thank you all for what you’re doing to help not just those new to the homeschooling/virtual schooling arena, but also assisting us homeschool veterans.
In these abnormal circumstances, may we continue to remember that we’re all in this together.
It’s also more important than ever to share with each other if anyone is struggling and needs financial assistance, help with new ideas for homebound activities, and just commiserating with sharing photos of our respective cups of tea or glasses of wine to celebrate the end of each week:
I cannot applaud everyone enough as you navigate what works for you and your household as you figure out what facilitates your children’s learning at home—especially for those of you who must also delicately balance having to work from home, still leave home for work, or in some cases having just lost your paying job.
Good strength to us all.
Some Random Links to Share: